Teachers Union Throws Kids Under the Bus
July 5, 2011 - By CalWatchdog Staff
By KATY GRIMES
In an 11th hour budget move, Democrat lawmakers slipped a bill through the Assembly and Senate on behalf of the California Teachers Association. It protects teacher jobs over the educational rights of California’s children.
Authored by the Democrat-dominated Assembly Committee on the Budget, the 100-page bill was presented to the entire Assembly only 20 minutes before it was to be voted on.
AB 114 is filled with many troubling provisions. One concerns Proposition 98, which mandates that about 40 percent of General Fund spending go to K-14 education. And AB 114 diverts 1.06 percent of the existing sales tax revenues to fund welfare programs.
Earlier in the year, Assembly Republicans had presented a balanced budget plan, which fully funded Proposition 98 without any tax increases.
Instead, beholden to the CTA, Democrats manipulated Prop. 98 and appropriated the same amount of funding for K-12 schools as last year — as all other state agency budgets were cut. They also authorizing districts to cut seven teaching days in the school year if financially beneficial.
And, using AB 114, the Legislature and governor gutted the oversight laws requiring school agencies to adhere to minimum levels of financial reserves.
Gov. Brown has, in essence, allowed teachers to avoid layoffs under any circumstances in the next fiscal year. And school agencies will not be scrutinized financially. That’s a recipe for disaster — and a gift-wrapped treat to the CTA.
“This is shocking,” said Lance Izumi, Koret Senior Fellow in Education Studies at the Pacific Research Institute, CalWatchdog’s parent think tank. “It’s obvious that unions do not care for the kids at all if they are willing to shorten the school year. This is about protecting teachers’ jobs, whether they deserve it or not.”
Izumi said that many other states are going in the opposite direction, and implementing more school choice opportunities and teacher evaluation processes, while “California is regressing into 19th century union vogue.”
Izumi’s analysis appears to be spot on given that Brown appointed the former chief lobbyist of the California Teachers Association to the state board of Education. “Any need of further evidence that Brown is bought and paid for by the CTA is unnecessary,” said Izumi. “This is the real face of the governor.”
What this means for teachers is that CTA members get to keep their jobs without the oversight or input of the district in which they work.
School Services of California, an advocacy resource for educational agencies in California, called AB 114 “some of the worst political actions to affect public policy in a very long time.”
School Services CEO and President Ron Bennett explained, “Stripping the county superintendents of their oversight responsibilities in 2011-12 will almost certainly bring dozens, if not hundreds, of school districts to the state’s door for emergency loans in future years. The authority of the county superintendents to protect the state should not be taken away when it is needed most.”
Described as “intruding on the ability of school boards to manage their own resources, AB 114 would limit the ability of school boards to act now to ward off the possibility of midyear budget cuts that the Legislature acknowledged would be necessary if revenues are more than $2 billion short,” wrote John Fensterwald, a California education journalist and analyst. “One provision will prevent districts from using July and August to make additional layoffs; the other requires districts to maintain programs and staffing levels ‘commensurate with’ last year’s levels.”
“This is blatant self-interest. The CTA has no credibility anymore talking about kids,” said Izumi. “This bill takes away county superintendents’ ability to create stability within school districts.”
The California School Boards Association applauded Brown and Democratic lawmakers for approving “the best budget scenario possible without the necessary two-thirds support to extend taxes and protect education from deeper cuts.” Those were apparent justifications for the deal made between the CTA and Democrats.
However, the association did ask Brown to repeal two sections of the bill. One would prevent school districts from using July and August to make additional layoffs. The other would require districts to maintain programs and staffing levels “commensurate with” the previous year’s levels.
But Brown had a different view of the state’s position: “Let us not forget that schools would have enjoyed billions more in state funding if Republicans in the Legislature had allowed the people of California to vote on tax extensions. Today those taxes — on personal income, sales of goods, and motor vehicles — end.”
Ironically, after pushing for months for tax increases, Brown may be surprised by the additional “revenues” that could come in because the 2009 tax increases expired four days ago — pumping up the economy and expanding the tax base. That proves once again that putting more money in the pockets of taxpayers is always a win-win-win: for the state, for taxpayers and even for schools.
The Democratic Assembly members named as authors of AB 114 are Blumenfield, Alejo, Allen, Brownley, Buchanan, Butler, Cedillo, Chesbro, Dickinson, Feuer, Gordon, Huffman, Mitchell, Monning, and Swanson.