Senate Ed committee balances school needs, parents, unions and worms

At a meeting of the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday, a dirty little secret about the Capitol came out. There are apparently worms in the drinking fountains.

SB 687 was on the agenda in the education committee. The bill would allow school districts to permit adults to volunteer time or resources for maintenance or improvement of a school, volunteer time in the classroom or help during the lunch period.

And the bill would prohibit a collective bargaining agreement from prohibiting a school district from using volunteers.

Needless to say, SB 687, authored by Sen. Joel Anderson, R-Alpine, but presented by Sen. Mark Wyland, R-Solana Beach, elicited a great deal of discussion and plenty of union pushback.

Despite the need for maintenance at so many of California’s public schools, most of the committee concern seemed to center around the displacement of union employees with volunteers and “faulty work.” The bill analysis by the committee staff said volunteers “may not have the proper qualifications and training to perform capital projects.”

Committee members cited several school volunteer projects that went awry, including a heating and air conditioning replacement and a broken drinking fountain. “It puts the safety of kids in jeopardy,” said Sen. Marty Block, D-San Diego.

Torres’ comment draws guffaws

“There nothing in the current law preventing parents from volunteering in schools,” said Sen. Norma Torres, D-Chino, who noted that parents and volunteers do community beautification projects at school campuses in her district once a year. “And they are always done side by side with the classified employees, to plant flowers, remove graffiti, to do small things that improve the quality of life of that student while they are there,” she said.

“I am concerned about infrastructure improvements,” Torres said. “I don’t know — I am very concerned that everybody is talking about a water fountain as if it was no big deal. But some of our water fountains here in the Capitol had been infected with worms.”

Her comment prompted some guffaws and giggles.

“I don’t think that’s funny,” Torres said. “Our children deserve better than that. There’s asbestosis — some child may not know until 30 years from now that they got asbestosis from some parent cracking a wall and tapping into those types of contaminates.”

Torres continued: “Lead poisoning — we tried to do a painting project that included painting fences around the school, unknowingly that there was lead. Thank goodness that the classified employees, the people in the building trades that were assigned to work with the parents that day, understood what the volunteers did not understand.”

“I think this is a slippery slope and going down the …  um … wrong tube here with this proposal, and I’m not supporting it.”

Long list of unions oppose bill

After testimony in opposition of the bill by the California Teachers Association, California School Employees Association, California Federation of Teachers, and California Labor Federation – all labor unions or groups — Committee Chairwoman Sen. Carol Liu, D–La Cañada Flintridge, said she would keep the bill in the committee to allow Anderson to make changes to it.

Bill Lucia with Ed Voice, offered support for SB 687, saying it should be a local control, district by district issue, particularly to deal with irregular maintenance in schools.

But don’t expect to see parent volunteers at schools doing anything but planting flowers.


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  1. Left of Rio Linda
    Left of Rio Linda 17 January, 2014, 10:22

    Where did the parents get “lead based paint” it’s been off the market since the 70’s! I spent a summer as a “temp employee” years ago at a school district and I replaced drinking fountains without “classified employee drinking fountain repair training” I just had a mechanical aptitude for fixing things. This is union job protectionism and even then they don’t fix anything.

    Reply this comment
  2. LetitCollapse
    LetitCollapse 17 January, 2014, 11:16

    Boy, as much as we are gouged by the teachers and by the school districts for K-12 education the last thing I would ever do is offer my free labor to repair school buildings. I’m no masochist.

    Will any of these legislative bills reduce our taxes? Of course not. If I volunteered to repair school buildings for free and consequently put some poor carpenter out of work the savings accrued would only get transferred into the teacher’s pension fund! lol. This has got NOTHING AT ALL to do with the little ‘children’. But that’s how they love to play it: ‘Please sign up to give us your free labor to help our little children’. Oh, doesn’t that sound so innocent and sweet??

    How stupid do they think we are??? lol.

    Reply this comment
  3. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 17 January, 2014, 23:33

    I miss Queegie!!

    Reply this comment
  4. Ted Steele, CEO
    Ted Steele, CEO 18 January, 2014, 07:58

    El Collapso Back Peddlo–

    Volunteering is a thing of beauty little buddy– 1000 points of light!

    Reply this comment
  5. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 18 January, 2014, 12:13

    Any time you can improve schools….encourage it. Cannot understand why some posters always bash schools and teachers. They are unhappy in their personal lives and continue dumping on the readers….such a shame.

    Volunteering is admirable…..whining is unbearable!

    Reply this comment
    • LetitCollapse
      LetitCollapse 18 January, 2014, 12:35

      Always has to throw personal barbs and insults at other posters. Can’t just stay on topic. Must criticize and demean other posters. Puerile. Please desist, Queeg…oops…I mean Uhaul.

      Reply this comment
  6. LetitCollapse
    LetitCollapse 18 January, 2014, 12:42

    I would no more volunteer my free labor to put working class carpenters and janitors out of work while surreptitiously bolstering teacher’s pensions than I would stick needles and pins in little kittens for pleasure.

    As a youngster I was taught the difference between right and wrong.

    Reply this comment
  7. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 18 January, 2014, 17:12


    Reply this comment
    • LetitCollapse
      LetitCollapse 18 January, 2014, 22:27

      Yeah, the issue is why would I hurt some working class stiff to benefit some public school prima donna queen who gets paid top dollar on a national scale to educate kids who on average test out below the kids in Mississippi on the standardized test scores!!! LOL. Who in the real world would garner top dollar for such dismal results??? Only in government!!! lol.

      Reply this comment
  8. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 19 January, 2014, 08:44


    Reply this comment
  9. hondo
    hondo 20 January, 2014, 16:51

    Once again the liberals here change the subject, accusing the conservatives of calling people names to change the subject from the horrific nature of Kalifornia’s schools. Since they are ranked at the bottom in the country, I’m sure they could use some help. Looking at the close to trillion dollar unfunded mandates in unfunded pension funds, you’d think the public sector would welcome all the help they can get. But no.
    It was just a couple years ago, several dozen public entities in Kali were headed towards bankruptcy. And they aren’t out of the woods yet. The next recession ( they always happen every 6 years or so) will make things worse. The democratic fix of these issues was a tax increase that has kept the unemployment rate in kali among the highest. Far higher than it should be for California has more economic assets than anyplace on earth. Kali’s unemployment rate should be among the lowest and it’s pensions among the safest.
    I can only hope the liberals are right. Just like they were with Obamacare.

    Reply this comment
  10. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 20 January, 2014, 17:34

    Hondo…..Kali is fine. Are you still living in RedNeck Utopia?

    Reply this comment
  11. Hondo
    Hondo 21 January, 2014, 08:04

    Are you still living in Stalin’s Russia? You seen to have a brain but you only use it to call people names. You can’t seem to answer my comment’s facts or theories. The more you call me names, the more it proves me right.
    I win again because I am civil.

    Reply this comment
  12. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 21 January, 2014, 17:45

    Hondo……breathe deep. Pension fund is fine. Purple is s regal color. Republicans lose every election. The sun will come up Wed.

    Fair and Balanced

    Reply this comment

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