The ongoing strike by the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) union against the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is about teacher pay, classroom size, support staff, and especially charter schools, which the union says take money away from the district.
Left unspoken, however, is the cost of educating illegal aliens, and their children — which could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars per year, if not billions, experts say.
Steven A. Camarota, director of research, at the Center for Immigration Studies, told Breitbart News on Friday that “between one-fifth and one-fourth of the students in LAUSD are the children of illegal immigrants — though most of those were born in the U.S.” He said that a smaller percentage of the students (“in the single digits”) are illegal immigrants themselves.
With roughly 700,000 students in the district, at a cost of over $13,000 per student, that means the district could be spending about $1.8 billion annually on educating the children of illegal immigrants. The total annual expenses for the LAUSD in 2017-2018 amounted to $7.52 billion.
The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) put the cost of educating the children of illegal aliens statewide at over $12 billion in a 2014 study. A significant proportion of those students are served by the LAUSD.
Twenty years before, with a much lower population of illegal aliens, the U.S. General Accounting Office — in a study prepared for then-Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) estimated that California spent $1.6 billion on educating the children of illegal aliens. The cost has increased almost tenfold as the “undocumented” population has grown.
The exact numbers are elusive, but even a conservative estimate would put the costs of educating the children of illegal aliens in the LAUSD in the same ballpark as the costs of charter schools, which unions complain cost the district some $600 million per year in lost funding.
The U.S. Supreme Court held in Plyler v. Doe (1982) that students could not be denied a free public education on the basis of their immigration status.
However, the continued arrival of illegal aliens has arguably strained the public education system — and will continue to do so unless the country’s borders are secured.
Yet no one in L.A. seems to be discussing the problem.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.