Changing CA politics: What’s the biggest potential shift?

Changing CA politics: What’s the biggest potential shift?

CA_politicsThe open-primary success of relatively moderate GOP candidates in statewide races has prompted lots of thumbsucker punditry lately. For example, Dan Walters sees Tuesday’s results as suggesting a mild GOP comeback.

There’s also the evidence that the Legislature isn’t as wacky as it used to be since open primaries became the norm in 2012. In a U-T San Diego editorial, I looked at some theories as to why that might be:

“[There is] evidence that 2012’s elections — in which all Assembly and half the Senate seats were up for grabs — had the moderating effect that [open-primary proponent Abel] Maldonado hoped, specifically on majority Democrats. In 2013 and so far in 2014, the Legislature has not been the liberal self-caricature it often seemed over the past 15 years.

“This is backed by a study of voting patterns from 2011-2013 by USC professor Christian R. Grose. It showed significantly more moderate stands among Assembly Democrats and some signs that Senate Democrats have moderated as well.

“But are open primaries driving this development? Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, says there may be more moderate Democrats than before, but they’ll vote the union line when Senate and Assembly leaders apply pressure. Coupal also says Senate Democrats have been weakened by the scandals hanging over three members of their caucus. And he says Gov. Jerry Brown’s pragmatism and sensitivity to ‘job-killer’ bills may also inhibit lawmakers from acting on their normally liberal instincts.

“So it’s probably far too soon to decide whether Abel Maldonado will be a footnote or a key figure in state history.”

More consequential: Rift pitting Latinos vs. teachers

But for my money, there’s potentially much bigger news unfolding. That’s the possibility that the Vergara lawsuit over anti-Latino state education policies and the Tuck vs. Torlakson race for state superintendent of public education could finally make teacher unions and the Latino community the adversaries they should have been for years.

Who is best served by the state education status quo? Mostly white teachers who belong to the CTA and CFT. Who is worst served by the state education status quo? Mostly Latino students in poor communities.

If/when this dynamic comes to the fore, it would be far more potent than a change in election rules. The CTA/CFT are the Dems’ fiscal muscle. Latino voters are the Dems’ key voter base. If they get into it — and they should, they should — California will change in dramatic ways.



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  1. Richard Rider
    Richard Rider 8 June, 2014, 07:22

    “The single most evil Democrat policy? Tough call, but I’d say it’s opposing school choice.”
    by Richard Rider

    Progressives have many, MANY wrongheaded ideas about the economy, incentives — and generally “what works” and HOW it works. But there’s one area that particularly galls me — perhaps the most evil Democrat policy of all — their fanatical opposition to school choice.

    There is NO rational reason to oppose giving parents such choice. The results have been proven to usually be superior for students — and never worse. The article below discusses some of these studies, and is worth reviewing.

    But the Democrats’ allegiance (at least the Democrat LEADERSHIP’S primary concern) is the health and wellbeing of education unions and their members. If that means minority urban kids are limited to a substandard education in dangerous schools — so be it. The KKK fully agrees!

    BTW, many Democrat blue collar and poor parents DO want school choice. But their party does not. And for too many such hapless folks, by continuing to vote Democrat, they are demonstrating that their party loyalty is more important than their kids’ future. Or perhaps they just don’t connect the dots.

    In general, studies comparing public vs. private/charter schools reach one of two conclusions (depending on how ideologically liberal the researchers are).

    1. School choice improves the lot of kids who take advantage of it.

    2. School choice works no better than government monopoly schools.

    But here’s the thing — NO reputable study (even biased studies) concludes that school choice — especially private schools — provides an INFERIOR education. This is a KEY point.

    Here’s why: Education vouchers and/or tax credits provide as good or better an education than government schools — at a significantly lower cost. Every kid that chooses to take advantage of vouchers/tax credits reduces the cost of “public schools.” Hence there is no rational reason to continue this government monopoly — at the very least, we should offer students and their parents lower cost school choices.

    Perhaps the most dramatic example of this cost disparity is our nation’s capital. It has a pathetic little voucher option for a few hundred students — picked by lottery from a FAR larger pool of hopeful qualified applicants.

    The D.C. education vouchers are for $7,500, though only about $6,700 is actually expended per student on their private schools. Contrast that with the $23,000 per student D.C. district outlay for government centers of learning.

    BTW, the “per student” cost of public schools is grossly understated. Progressives love to use just the A.D.A. per student cost figure, but there are dozens of other “target” funding sources for school districts. Plus they don’t count local funding in the form of school bonds. School district costs begin at $10,000 per year per student — not counting school bonds and other local funding.

    But there’s more. Not included in the per student public school cost is the antiquated, redundant COUNTY school boards. They teach few students (they might have a small “wayward student” school), but they can spend a LOT of money to little classroom benefit.

    Our San Diego County Board of Education has an annual budget exceeding $450 million! Good luck finding budget info on their website — a PR puff website that hides the budget info in a sub-menu not easily located. And even then you have to “thumb” through the auditor’s report to get the (outdated) information. — page 15

    And let’s not forget the budget for the California state public schools bureaucracy — not to mention the cost of the U.S. Department of Education. None of that is counted in the cost per student of a government education.
    Even socialist SWEDEN has concluded that school choice is best — they’ve offered universal school choice (including religious schools) since 1992, and even their Socialist Party has since concluded that it’s a good idea. Many other countries have some form of school choice.

    Here’s the UnionWatch article I recommend. Not too long or wonky. Indeed, it takes apart several education labor union straw man arguments.

    Reply this comment
  2. Ken
    Ken 8 June, 2014, 09:10

    “…California will change in dramatic ways.” Maybe. But you might have added “how.” For better or for worse? That we even have Latino education issues is pathetic.

    Reply this comment

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