Prediction: CTA, CFT will kill Brown push to help English learners

Feb. 27, 2013

By Chris Reed

bizarro.jerryOn the Fox & Hounds website, veteran Sacramento watcher John Wildermuth has a sharp piece about how Gov. Jerry Brown’s push to give more money to school districts with students with higher numbers of remedial English speakers inevitably is going to lead to pushback from the wealthier districts which stand to lose funding as a result:

“To Brown, it’s not only simple fairness, but also a smart use of state money.

“With two million children living in poverty and three million who don’t speak English at home, ‘equal treatment for children in unequal situations is not justice,’ the governor said in his state of the state address last month. And if California fails to properly teach the children who are the state’s future, ‘we will sow growing social chaos and inequality that no law can rectify.’

“But that soaring rhetoric doesn’t necessarily reflect the political reality of the zero-sum game that’s state financing: If some schools get more money, than some others will have to get less. And what local legislator is going to volunteer to let the schools in his district take the hit?”

That’s absolutely right. Wealthy liberals in the Bay Area and affluent L.A. suburbs — at least the ones with kids in public schools — may talk a good game about “social justice,” but how will they feel when it means their school districts get less funding?

But here’s another angle: How will the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers react?

Governor offers subtler version of Gloria Romero’s critique

I think former state Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, is right when she frames school reform in California as a civil rights issue — one in which the interests of veteran teachers too often trump the needs of the state’s increasingly Latino students. The CTA and CFT responded to Romero by depicting her as an extremist and killing her 2010 bid to be state superintendent of public instruction.

However, it would be politically risky to go after the popular Brown, who appears to agree with Romero’s critique but has framed it in a completely different way.

So here is my confident prediction: The CTA and the CFT will never publicly oppose the governor’s plan. But since it displeases the many veteran teachers who would rather teach low-maintenance affluent kids than higher-maintenance kids with relatively poor language skills, the unions will quietly work to sandbag Jerry Brown — and will get their way

At which point, we’ll have two moments of reckoning.

1) Will the 74-year-old governor with a clear path to re-election call out the CTA and CFT? Or will he look the other way and depict the opposition to his plan as reflecting inertia or a lack of appreciation of its merits?

2) Will the mainstream media finally realize the absurdity of teacher unions depicting themselves as agents of “social justice”?

We shall see. This should be fun.

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