CA Latino lawmakers value careers over Latino students

by Chris Reed | April 2, 2014 6:00 am

The recent dissent in California Democrat ranks — in which Asian lawmakers balked at racializing UC admission policies in a way that would punish current smart Asian students for the history of white racism — drew lots of deserved attention.

ca.hispanicBut in the U-T San Diego, I made the case that another Democratic faction has far more reasons[1] for dissent:

” … if any part of the Democratic coalition should consider bolting over basic calculations of self-interest, it is Latinos. They are poorly served by the state’s public education system — which is dominated by the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers, the most powerful forces in the state Democratic Party.

“Everywhere around California, there is a cold war playing out between teachers unions and those who want to shake things up to help Latino students.

“In San Diego Unified and elsewhere, we see a renewed assault on charter schools that are often championed by minority parents unhappy with the status quo.

“In Sacramento city schools, an Obama administration-endorsed effort to improve the performance of struggling, largely minority schools is being sandbagged by the local chapter of the CTA — because the program seeks to determine which teachers are most effective in helping students from impoverished families.

“In Los Angeles Unified, this reflexive effort to protect veteran teachers above all else has long since left sanity behind. For the worst of many examples, a teacher who fed semen-laced food to his poor, mostly Latino elementary school students couldn’t be fired because of the immense job protections dictated by the local CTA chapter. Administrators had to pay him $35,000 to get him to resign.”

Teachers blame kids, parents — absolve themselves

“This disconnect between the interests of Latinos and the interests of the teachers unions that dominate California’s Democratic Party is hammered home by these unions’ increasingly open attitude of ‘don’t blame us for not being able to educate these kids.’

“Yes, of course, it’s going to be more difficult to help a student whose parents aren’t English speakers or who have other difficulties related to poverty. Nevertheless, it is a matter of fact that some teachers, schools and districts do objectively better at educating these students than others. Yet instead of supporting a “best practices” approach to help these kids — as Sacramento schools are trying to do — the CTA and CFT try to nuke any change in the status quo that might cost any teacher anywhere her or his job.

“If college admission policies drive a wedge between Asian-Americans and the California Democratic establishment, public education policies should be 100 times more likely to divide Latinos and state Democrats.”

Career comes first. The kids? Bleep ’em

gloria_romeroInstead, Latino lawmakers by and large never pick fights with the CTA and CFT. With the gigantic exception[2] of former state Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, Latino Dem electeds want to stay on the career-advancement gravy train. As I detailed in 2012, they’ll even put up with a CTA member feeding semen to Latino elementary-school kids:

“The Berndt case prompted state senator Alex Padilla, a Los Angeles Democrat, to introduce legislation that would have made it easier for districts to fire sexual predators. That bill never made it[3] out of a state assembly committee. Lobbyists from the CFT and CTA portrayed it as an assault on teachers’ due-process rights, and legislators fell right into line with the unions. As for Berndt, instead of firing him, the union-dominated Los Angeles Unified hierarchy paid him $40,000 to resign[4].

“Siding with classroom sexual predators over Latino students and parents was no big deal for the CTA-affiliated United Teachers Los Angeles. Consider what happened in November 2009 at Gratts Elementary School (94 percent Latino enrollment[5]) in the Pico-Union neighborhood of Los Angeles. Latino parents who wanted to convert the struggling school to a charter and force out poor teachers were warned in Spanish-language fliers that they risked deportation[6] for their efforts. UTLA denied any involvement with the scare tactic, but union members were the sole suspects.

“It might seem remarkable that the California legislature’s powerful Latino caucus tolerates union bullying and intimidation, but then most of the caucus members — including Assembly Speaker John Pérez, a former organizer for the United Food and Commercial Workers — ascended through the labor movement. By allowing the CTA and CFT to dictate the agenda, Latino legislators are keeping the best teachers out of schools where they’re most needed and helping channel the worst teachers to the most troubled schools. They evidently prefer keeping mum to risking teachers’ union support.”

To repeat a point I made in the U-T San Diego’s pages, many Latinos’ assumption that Republicans just don’t like immigrants or minorities or Latinos make it unlikely they would even consider switching parties. But should that anti-GOP view make them blind to the fact that when it comes to public education, California Dems are objectively anti-Latino?

Of course not.

  1. far more reasons:
  2. gigantic exception:
  3. never made it:
  4. $40,000 to resign:
  5. Latino enrollment:
  6. risked deportation:

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