By government standards $62,500 is not a lot of money, but there’s more to learn for taxpayers, parents and students in this San Diego Union-Tribune story. A lawsuit by the California Taxpayers Action Network charged that San Diego County superintendent Randy Ward, with collaboration from chief financial officer Lora Duzyk, gave himself unauthorized raises totaling $70,000 to $100,000 over eight years. The means, the network charged, was the “me too” clause giving administrators a raise whenever teachers got one. The county board launched an audit, at a cost of $70,000, which it failed to complete. The board released no report and would not comment on the Union-Tribune story.
Ward said he did nothing wrong, but the San Diego County Office of Education settled with the Taxpayers Action Network for $62,500. By law, the county office is required to represent Ward and Duzyk. So taxpayers are on the hook, not the bureaucrats their own selves. That also applies in settlements for sexual harassment and such.
As the Union-Tribune learned, the county paid Randy Ward more than $300,000 in 2016 and he retired that year with a pension of $181,000. In government monopoly education, the big bucks and lavish benefits flow to non-teachers who add no value in the classroom. As with teachers, bureaucratic pay is not linked to any gains in student achievement or accountability. So merit and results play no role.
For their part, the county offices of education are another layer of absorbent bureaucratic sediment though which taxpayer dollars must trickle down before reaching the classroom. These offices tend to be holding tanks for bureaucrats between jobs. Like school districts, they tend to get active when education spending is on the ballot, the Proposition 30 tax hikes of 2012, for example.
In this collective farm of mediocrity and failure, more money is always the answer. If parents opt for independent schools, their tax dollars still go directly to the government system. Like veterans on the G.I. Bill, parents and students deserve full educational choice, with the dollar following the scholar, as a matter of basic civil rights. If politicians at any level support educational choice, they sure are keeping quiet about it.
K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at The Daily Caller.