Meanwhile, California's teachers are the most highly paid in the nation, with an average annual salary of $68,000. That's for an average annual workload of 180 days, only two-thirds the average total of days worked in the private sector. And don't forget retirement benefits: After 30 years, a California teacher may retire with a pension equal to about 75% of his working salary. California teacher pensions average more than $51,000 a year — more than working teachers earn in more than half the states in the nation.
Meaningful change probably won't come from elected officials, at least for now. The CTA's size, financial resources and influence with the state's Democratic Party are enough to kill most pieces of hostile legislation. Nevertheless, there are some encouraging stirrings. Parents in groups such as Parent Revolution are starting to revolt against CTA orthodoxy, and unlike elected officials, parents are hard for the union to demonize. The state's many excellent charter schools have demonstrated that another way is possible, and they are growing in strength by the day.
These efforts have reframed the education question in starkly humanitarian terms: In the California public school system, are anyone's interests more important than the students'? It was a question that the CTA itself might have asked back when teachers entered the classroom to "teach good citizenship."
Troy Senik is a senior fellow at the Center for Individual Freedom and an editor at Ricochet.com. This piece was adapted from the spring issue of City Journal.