The Los Angeles Unified School District ( LAUSD ) is in a bind. The Tuesday after Labor Day is usually when school starts for schoolchildren in Los Angeles. But not this year. Due to budget cuts, LAUSD could not open most of its school’s doors. This latest development is in direct contrast to the bailout bill that had $10 billion earmarked to bail out schools who were facing budget cuts and layoffs. Wasn’t this the point of this bill that HAD to be passed in an emergency House session? Who is getting bailed out? What was the point?
Spending is not the problem. In 2008, LAUSD budgeted nearly $30,000 per student. That is a staggering amount, especially when you consider that less than half the kids graduate. Nationally, we spend about $600 Billion on education. That’s 27 cents of every dollar, compared to 8 cents of every dollar for Medicaid. Part of the problem is that 80% of the school district’s operating budget is consumed by teacher salaries and benefits that last a lifetime. According to the LAUSD web page, a 1% cut can save $40 million.
This is a trend that will continue until our broken education system is repaired. Heritage has written extensively on education and what can be done to fix it. The National Education Association (the teachers union) wrote an article blaming a funding crisis for the layoffs, but failed to mention their unwillingness to work with the county to help solve the crisis. For parents practicing school choice and attending charter schools in Los Angeles, the LA Times had this to say:
And students in nearly 200 independently run charter schools are starting whenever school administrators want them to.