Is governor picking fight with CTA, CFT? Apparently

Jan. 11, 2013

By Chris Reed

Is Jerry Brown knowingly picking a fight with the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers? Based on his remarks Thursday, that’s what it seems like.

The governor wants to change the basic education funding formulas to give more money to underperforming schools, with the prime metric being how their students do in writing and reading English. This could lead to a change in the California education status quo that we have seen for decades in which everything about K-12 schools is built around the interests of veteran teachers.

What do they want? To retain the current status quo — the one that allows veteran teachers to teach in schools in affluent neighborhoods where students have fewer academic, crime and behavioral problems. No, they do not want to be noble public servants who try to help society by teaching the students who need the best teachers.

Critics of this attitude should get off their high horse. Of course people should pursue career paths that suit them. But elected Democrats in California for at least two decades have ignored the fact that the CTA and the CFT don’t give a damn about the “social justice” that arguably would result if the best teachers were given the most challenging students.

Hey, Assembly Speaker John Perez! Are you going to back the governor? Or are you just another union puppet?

Gloria Romero is right to frame the fight over California public education as being about civil rights — the interests of mostly white teachers vs. majority-Latino students. Gov. Brown’s budget, if not his rhetoric, implicitly agrees with her take on California.

Will the media notice? We shall see.

My newspaper, at least, did.

“When Romero said the inequities facing Latino students were California’s biggest civil-rights issue, she got little support from fellow Democratic lawmakers – and the CTA pronounced her ‘dangerous’ and used its clout to kill her 2010 bid to be state superintendent of public instruction.

“The governor didn’t frame the issue as dramatically as Romero. But it’s quite telling that the first time he had enough budget flexibility to pursue a big idea, he focused on the inequities facing Latino students. It may not be long before the CTA calls Jerry Brown ‘dangerous.'”

As I wrote Thursday, it is highly likely that Brown is rebuffed, and that Sacramento’s status quo of always doing what’s best for veteran teachers is preserved. But it’s interesting to see the governor take on this status quo, given how widely he’s considered the sharpest guy in town.

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CFTChris ReedCTAJerry BrownK-12studentsteachers

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