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Richard Rider

We need FEWER and FEWER California public schools — and colleges!

For a variety of reasons, the number of California children under age 18 has been steadily dropping — EVERY year from the 2004 peak.  From an education spending standpoint, this rock-solid trend is a BIG deal!  And it’s a big deal not only for public school age children, but also when deciding about the future need for expanding college facilities.

But first, let’s look at our youth population trend. Here’s a simple chart of the “18 and under” children in California during this century.  This number includes babies, toddlers and kids in both public and private schools.  Many of these kids will later be seeking to go to college.


Less than age 18

Year                  Number

2000                9,267,089

2001                9,325,466

2002                9,365,142

2003                9,404,594

2004                9,418,497 (peak number)

2005                9,405,565

2006                9,370,884

2007                9,335,620

2008                9,321,621

2009                9,294,501

2010                9,280,524

2011                9,244,709

2112                9,193,419

2013                9,157,076

2014                9,133,697

2015                9,116,168

2016                9,086,671

2017                9,044,860

2018                8,989,955

Note that the “under age 18” number peaked in 2004.  Since then, in EVERY SINGLE YEAR, there are fewer kids in CA than the year before. And this is true even while our overall CA state population has been  growing (ever-SLOWER growing, but growing) annually every year this century (check the link above for the total CA figures by year).

While I don’t yet have the 2019 CA child figures, the growth of the state population continued to slow, so it’s a SOLID assumption that the under-18 number continued to shrink as well.

Soooo, why the push for massive new school building programs?  Several reasons, but MOST IMPORTANT, it’s part of the ongoing effort to shift routine school district costs to 30+ year school bonds.

In the not-so-old days, maintenance was a general fund cost for a school district.  Now the unions are so powerful that they want essentially ALL the general fund money spent on the district public employees.  And, after all, the number one financial backer of any school board’s majority are these very labor unions.  Unions LITERALLY rule in most CA public school districts.

Stated another way, it’s NOT really about building NEW buildings with the bond money (though some will be built) — it’s about having the district taxpayers pay more for repairs, periodic building painting and even the electronic gadgets that are taking the place of school books — freeing up district money for higher pay and to fund the badly underfunded public employee pensions.

Moreover, because of the lack of routine school district maintenance, our public school structures are aging before their time.  Buildings that should last 60-80 years are shabby after only 20-35 years.

But back to the demographics.  Consider our diminishing future demand for more bricks and mortar colleges.  Sacramento is busy trying to expand our public college system, PLUS add some totally new college campuses.

Moreover, the far more efficient online education option is expanding at a dizzying pace — especially so in the liberal arts.  Instead of needing to meet three times a week, a liberal arts class can meet once a week — if at all!

Clearly we are going to need to educate fewer and fewer college students — and need fewer classrooms to provide such education. But the college building juggernaut rambles on without adult supervision.  Why is no press outlet revealing this obvious con job?

This March, vote AGAINST the miss-numbered “Prop 13” — the $15 billion CA state school bond boondoggle.