Teachers win Torlakson battle, but does Brown want them to win war?

Teachers win Torlakson battle, but does Brown want them to win war?

Brown JerryState Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson’s defeat of reformer and fellow Democrat Marshall Tuck on Tuesday prompted analysis pieces that outlined how California’s union-dominated education establishment had rang up another win.

While Tuesday night was grim for liberals, embattled teachers unions have won a big victory in California.

Incumbent state school superintendent Tom Torlakson repulsed a strong challenge from reform-minded charter school executive Marshall Tuck, defeating him by a margin of about 52-48 percent.

That’s from the Daily Caller. But given the stakes, it seems obvious that Torlakson’s relatively narrow win was a battle in a war that’s not going to end any time soon.

Who started the war? You’ll be surprised

And who touched off this war in California? As I wrote in the U-T San Diego, a case can be made that it was Gov. Jerry Brown — allegedly the close buddy of the CTA and CFT.

The education establishment is like a supertanker that requires the application of vast energy to make it change course. There are subtle but unmistakable signs this course change has begun.

The first factor driving this change was Gov. Jerry Brown’s declaration that the single most important issue in the Golden State is ensuring struggling minority students get a strong education so they can have productive lives. This was followed by Brown’s 2013 overhaul of school funding formulas, which was meant to ensure such students benefit from extra resources. Though the governor was careful not to frame this as an indictment of how these students are now being treated, that is the only interpretation that makes sense.

The second was Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu’s June ruling in the Vergara vs. California case that minority students received such inferior educations that it “shocked the conscience.” Treu cited the vast evidence presented in the Vergara trial that because of several state laws, bad teachers are almost impossible to fire, and are funneled to the minority schools most in need of the best teachers.This led to national news coverage, which accepted the premise that teacher union power hurt minority students.

The third was Tuck’s candidacy and its universal support among California editorial boards — conservative, libertarian and liberal alike. They too embraced the view that union power had metastasized in the public school system to the detriment of the most vulnerable students.

Finally, the canard that teacher and student interests are one and the same has been routed. Now it is only a matter of time before state Democrats are forced to address the emerging conventional wisdom that teacher unions, their most powerful faction, are doing harm to their most loyal factions: Latinos and African-Americans.

Is the gov a modern Machiavelli?

I have tried out this theory — that what’s happened appears to show how Jerry Brown is downright Machiavellian on education — with many people over the past few months. Journalists are more skeptical than non-journalists.

But the comments of a friend who is a sports fan have stuck with me. He said what Brown had done reminded him of a newly hired football coach commenting in obliquely negative ways on his roster. The goal is putting the who-is-to-blame focus on the general manager and the spotlight on the bigger picture, not the next game.

That’s sort of what Jerry Brown did. In a subtle way, he said California’s biggest problem was the CTA’s and the CFT’s fault. He’s framed the issue as if he were … Marshall Tuck.

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