Governor Jerry Brown, while continuing to ignore the astronomical costs of educating California’s 1.5 million K-12 non-English speakers, many of them illegal immigrants, is now lobbying hard for $12 billion in tax increases in part "for the children." My estimate, based on an ultra-conservative $5,000 per pupil average daily attendance (ADA) is that the total annual expense for ESL students is $7.5 billion.
The same claim has been made by tax advocates, this time it’s Brown, for decades. Higher taxes will supposedly avoid massive cuts in the schools’ budgets and will save the kids from suffering from a further decline in the quality of their education.
But local school districts have proven over and over again that they’re administratively unqualified to act prudently. In fact, they can’t even find toxic free campuses to build their school on.
The Los Angeles Unified School District, for example, constructed the infamous Belmont School on a toxic dump and earthquake fault. Before it finally opened its doors after years under construction, experts calculated that nearly $1 billion taxpayer dollars were wasted in Belmont cleanup efforts.
Now comes the latest scandal. The LAUSA has picked another contaminated site for its new Gassell Park campus, a 2,295 seat high school. [LA Unified Sues Over Contamination of New Gassell Park Campus, by David Zahniser, Los Angeles Times, May 1, 2011]
This means more of the same: tax payers foot the bill for LAUSD’s mistakes and will pay for not only the contaminated property but also its cleanup as well as lawyers representing the city and the school.
An analysis of California’s dysfunctional education system confirms several things. As long as legal and illegal immigration continue in California, the state will never be able to build enough schools to accommodate that growing population. School bureaucracies are unlikely to ever be managed efficiently enough to act in the taxpayers’ best interests.
The Los Angeles Unified School District, it should be noted, is the second largest (to New York) in the nation with an enrollment of nearly 700,000 students and a total budget of $7.3 billion. Of the total enrollment, 73 percent is Hispanic.
If taxpayers are on the hook for educating illegal immigrants and their children, the least we should get is prudent handling of our money—something we've seen little evidence of at LAUSD.