The myth of California’s underpaid public school employees

The myth of California’s underpaid public school employees


Prop. 30Eduardo Benard, a custodian at San Francisco’s Leonard R. Flynn Elementary School, received $107,912.31 in pay and benefits in 2013.

He was one of 31 custodians employed by California public schools that boasted more than $100,000 in compensation last year, according to just-release figures revealed on Transparent California, a database maintained by the nonpartisan California Policy Center.

The handsome compensation packages enjoyed by Benard and the other six-figure custodians almost certainly aren’t what California voters had in mind when they approved Proposition 30 two years ago.

The measure, championed by Gov. Jerry Brown and the Democratic-controlled Legislature, and bankrolled by such special interests as the California Teachers Association and SEIU/California State Council of Service Employees, imposed $7 billion in new taxes for seven years, 89 percent of which was supposed to reach the state’s K-12 classrooms.

But Prop. 30 has proven a bait-and-switch. Indeed, 80 percent of the Prop. 30 money the state has collected has gone to salaries and benefits of public school employees, according to the state Controller’s Office.

$763,000 compensation

That includes Jose Fernandez, who left his post this month as superintendent of the Centinela Valley School District after revelations by the Daily Breeze in Torrance that he received more than $763,000 in total compensation last year.

And if that was not excessive enough for the superintendent of one of the state’s smaller school districts, Fernandez’s contract with the school district entitled him to a 9 percent annual raise. It also allowed him to secure a $910,000 low-interest loan from the district to purchase a home in Ladera Heights.

While none of California’s other public school superintendents was as extremely well compensated as Fernandez, they haven’t exactly been shortchanged by their school districts. Indeed, at least 100 superintendents received more than $250,000 in compensation last year.

Then there are the state’s unionized public teachers, who were portrayed during the Prop. 30 campaign as grossly underpaid.

The reality is that the average full-time teacher received nearly $85,000 in pay and benefits in 2013, according to Transparent California. And nearly 35,000 teachers received more than $100,000 in compensation.

Among the well-compensated unionized teachers are more than 1,000 “retired” instructors, the Los Angeles Times reported, who have taken advantage of a loophole that allows them to keep on teaching (and receiving a salary for doing so), while receiving their taxpayer-funded pensions at the same time.

These are the kind of abuses opponents of Prop. 30 foresaw in 2012. And in 2014 their fears have been realized.


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  1. S Moderation Douglas
    S Moderation Douglas 28 July, 2014, 16:40

    More dumbassery.

    To quote another wise guy:

    ” he should look up what the ancient logicians called a “non sequitur“: “a statement that is not connected in a logical or clear way to anything said before it.”

    ” 80 percent of the Prop. 30 money the state has collected has …………………NOT…………….gone to salaries and benefits of public school employees”

    After you look up “non sequitur”, look up ” fungible”.

    With or without prop 30, teachers would be paid. Custodians would be paid. 30 did not increase the pay of any of these employees.

    Reply this comment
  2. S Moderation Douglas
    S Moderation Douglas 28 July, 2014, 17:15

    Transparent California is apparently like giving a loaded handgun to a five year old.

    What kind of “journalist” divulges two pieces of information: name and total compensation, without any context or investigation? And why? Did Mr. Perkins call Eduardo and ask about his pay? Or inform him that his pay would be published?

    For those who are contemplating applying for a ” six-figure custodians” job, try to rein in your envy. The top pay scale for a custodian in the San Francisco Unified School District is $3,800 a month. Off the top, subtract 8% for CalPERS. Not a lot of take home pay for San Francisco cost of living.

    Mr. Bernard apparently worked a LOT of overtime, and it appears that a large part of his compensation *may* have been from cashing in vacation upon retirement.

    I’m sure Mr. Perkins made his momma proud with this tripe.

    Reply this comment
    • S and P 500
      S and P 500 29 July, 2014, 13:36

      So what did he do with that overtime, besides taking long Starbucks breaks? If those $100K custodians work so hard, then why are the rest rooms in such poor condition that nobody want to use them?

      Reply this comment
  3. bob
    bob 28 July, 2014, 22:53

    RAWGI gone wild

    As in Detroit and the Roman Empire
    Government pensions destroy society, says Martin Armstrong

    Reply this comment
  4. T.Steele
    T.Steele 29 July, 2014, 06:41

    The teachers are the 1% ers!


    Reply this comment
  5. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 29 July, 2014, 09:03

    Governor Brown said from the moment he rolled out Prop. 30, that the revenue collected would go into the General Fund, therefore, freeing up other funds to help the State fulfill the requirements of Prop. 98.

    It is a big lie for you to describe the California Policy Center as a non-partisan group! It is a right-wing think-thank whose ultimate goal is to eliminate public-sector unions. Non-partisan–my foot!

    Reply this comment
    • S and P 500
      S and P 500 29 July, 2014, 13:45

      Well I can’t disagree with you on that point–Jerry did say that Prop 30 money was not specifically earmarked for education. And anybody who knew a little bit about the stock market knew that Prop 30 money was really paying for pensions. Just 4 months after the election, CalSTRS announced that it needed an extra $4 billion a year to keep itself solvent–that’s 100% of Prop 30 money.

      Reply this comment
  6. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 29 July, 2014, 09:07

    What does one over-paid Superintendent’s salary have to do with rank and file teachers? A custodian is a classified employee–he might have worked 80/hrs. week for all we know–what does any of that have to do with teachers!

    Reply this comment
  7. CA conservative
    CA conservative 29 July, 2014, 10:27

    This peant gallery seems to be full of Rizzo worhsipers.

    Reply this comment
    • SeeSaw
      SeeSaw 30 July, 2014, 07:29

      Don’t be ridiculous! I am on the side of workers–the honest kind, which most are.

      Reply this comment
    • S and P 500
      S and P 500 30 July, 2014, 12:43

      Or Mayor Kilpatrick fans. Watch the new season 8 Hulu episode “American Greed” about the Detroit mayor, narrated by Stacy Keach. He was charismatic and a great speaker but apparently a crook from his first day in office. He stole millions from the city. The money he stole is just a drop in the bucket compared to Detroit’s $20 billion bankruptcy but what he did is a declaration that the public sector is crooked and we are here to steal taxpayer money for new cars, big houses, expensive restaurant meals, and gold Rolex watches.

      Reply this comment
      • S Moderation Douglas
        S Moderation Douglas 30 July, 2014, 18:14

        If Mayor Kilpatrick is ” declaration that the public sector is crooked and we are here to steal taxpayer money for new cars, big houses, expensive restaurant meals, and gold Rolex watches.”, what is Bernie Madoff?

        Reply this comment
        • S and P 500
          S and P 500 31 July, 2014, 00:48

          The importance of Madoff in public pension finance can hardly be overestimated. Madoff should be another proof that all ponzi’s will eventually collapse, but instead he set an example for union leaders that it’s possible to operate very large ponzi’s involving billions of dollars and make them last for decades. Union leaders have used the Madoff model to prop up their own insolvent pension funds. They promise workers big pensions and hope that unrealistic investment returns and future contributions will provide the money to send out the checks. In return they have the gratitude of the workers as well as six figure salaries.
          The $4.5 trillion of unfunded pension liabilities must be the greatest pool of phantom investment returns in history. Whether it brings down the country like the South Seas Bubble crippled Great Britain for 100 years is anybody’s guess.

          Reply this comment
  8. sarge
    sarge 29 July, 2014, 10:52

    California teachers average 4th highest pay in the nation? Quality of education 48th? Seems the more money we give schools the less we get in return.

    Next time you drive past a school look in the teachers parking lot. No sympathy here. “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” George Bernard Shaw

    Reply this comment
  9. Queeg
    Queeg 29 July, 2014, 17:04

    Who will teach your ruined brats?

    Your spawn emulates your poor manners, cursing, drinking, fighting, disrespect for authority.

    Get over it……

    Reply this comment
  10. Bill
    Bill 30 July, 2014, 14:55

    California, with voter approval continues to tax itself to death. I retire in 4 more years and already own a home in Texas. When I leave, I won’t even take a last look at this once beautiful state.

    Reply this comment
    • S Moderation Douglas
      S Moderation Douglas 30 July, 2014, 18:06

      I’m sure you’re aware of this, since you own a home there, but Texas ain’t exactly tax nirvana, especially if you’re poor.

      And California isn’t really “taxed to death”. Total state and local taxes in California are about 11.8% of income. Tenth highest tax burden as a percent of income. Barely in the top 20%. (Texas is 9.4%, ranked 41st, so it’s in the BOTTOM 20%.)

      BUT, if you are in the lowest 20% of income earners, on average, you will pay more in Texas than in California. Very regressive state. (No income tax, but third highest state in property tax). Its apparently a VERY good place to be a millionaire though, they pay less than 5%.

      How do they exist with lower state and local taxes? For one thing, for every dollar they pay in federal taxes, they receive about $1.40 in federal spending. California gets back about 94 cents on the dollar. So the po folks in California are subsidizing the rich Texans.

      Reply this comment
      • Richard Rider
        Richard Rider 31 August, 2014, 16:12

        Moderation (MY ASS) — I see you persist in your dishonest dissemination of propaganda. Your claim that Texas is the “third highest state in property tax” is patently false.

        Nonsense, and you KNOW it — you are a knowledgeable, skilled prevaricator. Texas has a high property tax RATE, but because real estate is SO much more affordable in Texas, the property tax PAID is not so bad — and significantly less than California.

        In 2009 (latest figures I can find) the median California homeowner paid $2,839 — 10th highest in the nation. The median Texas homeowner paid $2,275, 14th highest in the nation — almost $600 less than California.

        Moreover, you constantly claim concern for the poor, but fail to note that your California policies result in our “Golden State” ranking 49th worst for percentage of home ownership. I suspect the only “poor” that really concerns you are union members.

        How come you quote stats without ever providing sources? Wait . . . no answer is necessary.

        Reply this comment
  11. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 30 July, 2014, 16:39


    Remember to Pack and Ship with us!

    Reply this comment
  12. Bill
    Bill 30 July, 2014, 17:10

    Got my own truck.

    Reply this comment
  13. thetruth
    thetruth 30 July, 2014, 18:17

    Many teachers will retire in their mid 50’s with a modest pension averaging $65000 over the 30 years of retirement. That gives them only $900,000 at 55 for the those 30 years at a 7 percent discount rate. Who only has $900000 saved at age 55? Every corporation can afford to do that. This is easy. The president can fix, with no cost to anyone. Everyone should have a $65000 pension at age 55.

    Reply this comment
  14. Queeg
    Queeg 30 July, 2014, 19:37

    We got people who provide road rage protection!

    Never know……all the exiting frustrated doomers just may get fiesty out there on # 66 or # 10.

    Reply this comment
  15. John Galt
    John Galt 31 July, 2014, 08:56

    It’s unfortunate the responsibility and costs for elementary and secondary education were shifted to the public domain about 110 years ago. Early on, public education may have been a competitive international advantage for the US as its prominence increased internationally. However, like all tax based, government-sponsored monopolies, public education has grown increasingly undisciplined and expensive due to layers of state and federal laws, and, increasing income and property tax burden on families. An estimated 95% of families have no choice but to enroll their students in public schools. Private education of children is available to wealthy families, or to families with strong religious identification who make significant sacrifices to afford the added costs. There may be some hope for families who desire alternatives to California’s public schools. Another state regulated monopoly, private electric power companies, are now required to allow customers an option to provide their own generation and stop payment to the serving utility (SCE or PG&E). If a similar alternative was enacted in public education, the state or counties would offer tax credits or “school vouchers” to families to enroll their children in private schools. District-run charter schools are a start, but a simple voucher system, or property tax credits, would be optimum as parents are typically more involved in their children’s education when they multiple alternatives and pay for it. Service marketplaces work more efficiently when service providers negotiate payment with customers directly, rather than look to government (e.g., VA Hospitals) or other 3rd parties (e.g., health insurance companies) for payment. One can be sure that Adam Smith is alive and well, and, will survive public education and all other state-run monopolies. Would we have iPhones and residential high speed Internet if the telecommunications marketplace had not deregulated in the mid-1980’s?

    Reply this comment
  16. david
    david 31 July, 2014, 16:08

    “$85,000 in pay and benefits in 2013”
    That is total compensation including healthcare, and pension contributions, not straight salary. That is not a huge amount just 5 x what a minimum wage worker makes.

    Reply this comment
  17. david
    david 31 July, 2014, 16:12

    “Would we have iPhones and residential high speed Internet if the telecommunications marketplace had not deregulated in the mid-1980′s? ”
    Are you kidding me? We have some of the SLOWEST and most EXPENSIVE communication services in the world thanks largely to privatization!
    The internet was a public project. Private networks in the past were highly expensive, complex and incompatible.

    Reply this comment
  18. thetruth
    thetruth 3 August, 2014, 11:57

    $900000 at age 55 for the underpaid teachers. Everyone should have more than that saved by that age in private business. Tax the excess earning at 100 percent for the teachers. It is all about the kids.

    Reply this comment
  19. Get Real
    Get Real 4 April, 2022, 11:56

    Propaganda website

    Reply this comment

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Tags assigned to this article:
Jerry BrownJoseph PerkinsProp. 30Jose Fernandez

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