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Edward Ring

LAUSD Offer Worth $122,938 Per Year – Will They Strike Anyway?

“Our demands, they’re not radical. When did it become radical to have class sizes that you could actually teach in? When did it become radical to have staffing and to pay people back after eight years of nothing?” – Alex Caputo Pearl,President, UTLA, February 26, 2015, Los Angeles Times

If the 35,000 members of the United Teachers Los Angeles, the union that represents employees of Los Angeles Unified School District, actually go on strike, in large part it will be because they want an 8.5% salary increase and the district is only offering them 5%. They also want smaller class sizes – tough to do when you’re passing out salary increases. But how much do these teachers actually make?

If you review the most authoritative source of public information on LAUSD salaries, the California state controller’s public pay website you will get the impression they aren’t making much. Thesummary page for LAUSDshows “average wages” of… Read More

Edward Ring

Issue of Government Unions Divide Candidates More Than Party Affiliation

“Agent Keen, in this world there are no sides, only players.” – Raymond Reddington, played by actor James Spader, NBC’s “Blacklist,” February 12, 2015

To exemplify the intensifying battle of players regardless of sides, look no further than California’s two competitive State Senate special elections set for this March. In Orange County’s Senate District 37, Republican John Moorlach is running against Republican Don Wagner. In Contra Costa County’s Senate District 7, three Democrats are competing for the open seat, Steve Glazer, Susan Bonilla, and Joan Buchanan.

What differentiates these candidates? It certainly isn’t their party affiliation.

In Contra Costa County the reason these candidates differ is very clear. Steve Glazer has taken positions that are hated by the unions, and the other candidates have not. In particular, Glazer was critical of the 2013 BART strike, and he has been outspoken for years on the need for pension reform. The city of Orinda, where Glazer has served as a councilmember and currently serves as mayor, offers a defined contribution plan to city workers.… Read More

Edward Ring

The Glass Jaw of Pension Funds is Asset Bubbles

“Calpers argued that the California constitution’s guarantee of contracts shielded pensions from cuts in bankruptcy. The fund also asserted sovereign immunity and police powers as an ‘arm of the state,’ including a lien on municipal assets.” – Wall Street Journal Editorial, “Calpers Gets Schooled,” February 8, 2015

If you want powerful evidence ofcrony capitalismat its worst, look no further. In the Stockton bankruptcy trial, the pension fund serving that city’s employees threatened to seize municipal assets to pay pension fund contributions. They’ve made similar threats to other cities that protest against the escalating contribution rates. And they’ve made the cost to exit pension plans confiscatory. It is hard to imagine a bigger or more blatant example of collusion between business interests and government employees at the expense of ordinary private citizens.

In the Stockton bankruptcy case, judgeChristopher Klein’s ruling left… Read More

Edward Ring

Senator Huff Fires Victim of Alleged Assault by Member of Teachers Union

[Publisher’s Note: We are pleased to feature this weekly column from Ed Ring. The opinions expressed are his. See Senator Bob Huff’s response to this column— Flash.]

What would you say to someone who displayed extraordinary courage and initiative to stand up for a law you wrote?

“You’re fired” is probably not the first thing that comes to mind, but that’s what happened to Arturo Garcia on January 29, after he stepped onto some very big toes. Garcia, a full time district representative for California StateSenator Bob Huffsince early 2013, had been assigned to work with parents and activists who want to save a failing elementary school in Anaheim.

Palm Lane Elementary School had been underperforming for twelve years. Frustrated parents went to the teachers, principal, school board and the district superintendent seeking change for their school to no avail. They learned about California’sParent TriggerRead More

Edward Ring

Anaheim Teachers Union Faces A Gathering Storm

If you drive by Palm Lane Elementary School in Anaheim, California, nothing seems amiss. With modern buildings, partially surrounded by a park, the school seems like a tranquil refuge. Like so many settings in sunny Southern California, palm trees and sycamores compete for space on the spacious lawns, beckoning skyward, swaying in the warmth of a slight breeze. By appearances, Palm Lane seemsa perfect place to send your children to get an education.

Appearances can be deceiving. Palm Lane does not deliver educational excellence to its students, and it is the latest epicenter of an escalating war for control of California’s failing public schools.

Despite investing to create and maintain an impressive campus, academic achievement at Palm Lane has been sadly deficient. According to a report earlier this month in the Wall Street Journal,“In 2013 a mere 38% of students scored proficient or better on state standardized English tests and 53% in math. About 85% of its students are Latino and 60% aren’t native English speakers.”

Read More

Edward Ring

Parent Trigger and Open Enrollment – Ways to Cope With Union Controlled Schools

In January 2010 the California’s legislature passed into law, perhaps uncharacteristically, an excellent new law. Entitled “Public schools: Race to the Top,”SB 54created two mechanisms for parents to exert greater control over the education of their children.

There are two components:

(1) The Open Enrollment Actmandates that the California Department of Education to annually create a list of 1,000 schools ranked by their Academic Performance Index. Parents whose children are enrolled in these schools have the right to transfer them to a better performing school.

(2)The “Parent Trigger” Law, which allows parents to transform their own schools if 50% of parents sign a petition to seek a change at their chronically underperforming school.

Open enrollment has had an immediate benefit to California’s parents in poor schools, both because individually parents have been able to get their children out of poor schools, and also because the mere ability of parents to remove their students from poor schools provides a powerful… Read More

Edward Ring

Is Deficient Recruiting the Real Reason for Police Understaffing in San Diego?

Whenever there is a shortage of police personnel in a California city, a common reason cited is inadequate pay. When officers at a particular agency are paid less than their counterparts at some other agency, so the theory goes, they quit in order to start working where they can make more. This seems to be sound logic. But is it supported by facts?

According to a new study “Analysis of the Reasons for San Diego Police Department Employee Departures,” released last weekby the California Policy Center, the answer to that question is a resounding “no.” Authored by Robert Fellner, research director for theTransparent Californiaproject, the study’s findings contradicted the conventional wisdom. They were:

Claims that SDPD officers were leaving to join other departments misrepresented the data on attrition, by focusing on the 10% who left to join other departments, instead of the 60% who retired. These claims also misrepresented the overall data regarding staffing and … Read More

Edward Ring

Money for Nothing – Public Administrators Have Minimal Authority or Accountability

On January 14th the Orange County Board of Education will meet to consider, among other things,approving a 2% increase for the Orange County superintendent’s salary. Using data provided by the Orange County Dept. of Education to Transparent California, it can be seen that in 2013 the superintendent, Al Mijares,earned a base salary of $293,500, along with additional employer paid “benefits” of $50,482, for a total of $338,482.

To evaluate whether or not this level of compensation is appropriate, the first step is to evaluate how much superintendents make in other California school districts. Using data provided by theNational Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Dept of Education, and California Department of Education, and compiled bySchoolDigger.com, we downloaded enrollment and academic performance information for 786 California school districts.… Read More

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