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Larry Sand
Students vs. Status Quo « Back to Story

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You write that it shouldn't take multiple lawsuits. Yes, and wouldn't it be better to avoid the recourse to courts in the first place? It is tempting to fall back on shaky constitutional arguments, inviting overreach, out of frustration for lack of traction. But I don't like running to the court like this when it is done by progressives, reactionaries, left or right. Not in a box. Not with a fox.

Massachusetts seems poised to get rid of seniority rules by virtue of a deal brokered between the unions and a group threatening a referendum which would be worse from union point of view, and which would almost certainly pass. Give me the political solution.
The interest in maintaining the status quo in education in California and elsewhere is a purely monetary consideration based on an agreement that Democratic Party has made with teachers unions. The teachers union agreed to subsidize the Democratic Party with what are essentially taxpayer funds and in return the Party agreed to give the union whatever it wants. It is a corrupt bargain that leaves the students and education wholly out - they are an irrelevancy to the parties to the deal.

All that matters under this arrangement is continuation of the money and benefits on the other side - why should the Democrats agree to reduce the amount of money and benefits going to teachers since by giving teachers more the Party gets more money. Again, I'll use the word corrupt, since this arrangement fits into the very definition of corruption.

For some reason, the Democratic Party's deal with teachers unions never gets spelled out in these terms. And, there are also no calls to limit the union's ability to donate to political causes - not even by Republicans. That is mystifying, when you think of how much could be solved by the simple act of prohibiting public unions from making political donations. Or if they must donate require they donate equally, to both parties - since there is no 'right' of government workers to unionize (unlike the private sector government unions are entirely created by state statute, and what state legislatures can give, they can take away or limit) state governments are free to place any restrictions on unions they wish.

But, of course, that would mean the Democratic Party would have to give up a major source of taxpayer subsidized campaign funds, without which the Party may very well shrivel up and (do the nation a great favor) wither away. It would also require that the Republicans get a spine - don't hold your breath for that!

So until the Democrats and the unions squeeze the last penny out of the last taxpayer, don't expect these bloodsuckers to go away, or anything to change.

These lawsuits present band-aid solutions - the second one is doomed to failure since it would take a great leap for the Court to agree with the plaintiffs. I don't see the first case being successful either - so we get teacher evaluations, what then? The system is still corrupt from the ground up. While I do see the frustration here the methods are wrong - the union/party relationship has to be severed before any real change will happen.

Don't hold your breath - this cozy arrangement is way too good for both parties ever to change without - I don't know what - revolution? Since the Democrats have bought off major media with a revolving door policy I don't see any great calls for change in the future. I pity the children who are subject to this corrupt bargain - they deserve better than to suffer at the hands of these people.
Hard to imagine these lawsuits being successful, given our rather timid court system, plus the fact these issues should have been challenged long ago.

But even if the lawsuits fail, they will draw attention to the fundamental problem that our kids are NOT the priority of our public school systems. Nor the parents nor the taxpayers. It's a government security employment program -- performance and results be damned.
Jacqueline O'Connor June 06, 2012 at 11:22 PM
I liked something I heard the Gates Foundation promoting: teacher evaluation using student grades as the first step in a teacher training and mentoring program prior to termination. There is truth in the statement that teachers can't offset a dysfunctional family by themselves, but kids need to learn - and reading early is key. Giving teachers a hand up in improving those test scores seems a reasonable compromise. I'd also like to see parents having to do some volunteer work at schools to help them (often school drop outs themselves) improve so they can help at home.
I say if Eric Holder can make a cause celebre of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, then the next attorney general should join the feds to this California tenure lawsuit. Also funding in the Dept of Education should be reframed to force school boards to apply spine in writing and adhering to performance based contracts. Is anyone with Romney listening?
Put the lid on it and walk away. It will self-destruct in 5 seconds.
Barb Teachblade Reynolds June 06, 2012 at 9:05 PM
Wow -- this article is "spot-on"! It's not surprising that the only Teachers supporting your article -- are the Competent Ones. I retired from the system after 27 years, teaching competency and being unjustly despised for doing so. I was one of a handful of teachers who EDUCATED to functionality in the work place. Rest assured many that support the status quo didn't fall into those positions. They know the systems' failures to perform and will KILL to retain a failed status quo because of their own SELF-serving interests--and they don't give a damn that 30 years later--Johnnie still can't read. This lot is "classic form over substance". There is no "substance" and hence, why the system is as failed now as it was 30 years ago; and they'll maintain the system with Nepotism as they alway have. It's all smoke and mirrors and the system LOVES incompetence. Incompetents will KILL to ensure the only flawed mechanism that will sustain their survival as they have come to enjoy it. The Competents could no longer participate in the dirty little kingdom run by persons who are threatened by Competency for no other reason than the competent person lives. Hence, why the Top Teachers have left and the system rides towards its certain demise because it's predicated on the self-serving interests at the top with no regard whatsoever as to effective learning. This isn't new news. It's time has come, however, in a 2012 Economy of scarce resources, for a failed 30-year old system to explain why Johnnie still can't read when Johnnie had an alleged Teacher in front of him daily. I could tell you stories that would make your hair stand on ends. Competence doesn't tenaciously hold on to incompetent systems that fail to work for 30 years. The proponents of a 30-year old failed system are indicting themselves and the same warmed over toasted stories, don't work anymore. A Retired Teacher who has never retired from Educating.