Crossposted at Calwhine

(Editor’s Note: Calwhine is a new internet site on California politics launched today published and written by San Diego Union Tribune editorial writer and former host of KOGO Radio’s  “Top Story” weeknight news talk show, Chris Reed. Check it out.

The report that the California Teachers Association had rejected a plan that would have brought billions in new dollars to schools could not have been more predictable.

Why? Because the Think Long For California Committee conditioned higher taxes on school reforms that would have weakened teacher tenure and Prop. 98. In other words, the CTA is offering its same old insistence that the status quo must be preserved at any cost, and that nothing about the status quo should be changed except that it should be way better funded.

It brings to mind the famously grim statement in 1983′s “A Nation at Risk” report about American public education:

If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre education performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.

Not to be hyperbolic, but why don’t we think about education in 2011 in that same framework, but with the word “domestic” substituted for “foreign”?

Public education is so larded with entrenched dumb ideas that encyclopedias would be needed to document them all. But let’s just start with one: the absolutely batguano idea that all teachers in all categories should be paid broadly the same, with pay adjusted for years of experience and accumulation of graduate coursework that doesn’t even have to be in the teacher’s field.

I’m going to zig here on you and not bring up the lunacy of paying? hard-to-keep science and math teachers the same as other categories. Instead, let’s bring out a social justice argument of the sort that the CTA allegedly should embrace, because it cares so so so much about struggling kids.

If there is credible evidence that kindergarten teachers have a hugely disproportionate impact on kids’ lives — and there seems to be — then why aren’t they paid the most of all teachers, and by far, to attract the very best teachers?

So many kids who don’t come from lives of privilege, who aren’t exposed to early learning or structured preschools or who have parents who haven’t mastered English, could benefit hugely from this.

But no, we can’t do anything like this, sez the CTA. All teachers are of equal importance and all should be paid under the same basic framework, now and forever. To do anything else is unfair, you see, and isn’t that what K-12 education’s primary purpose is — to protect the interests of teachers?

The only good news is that the public and much of the media have finally figured out the CTA’s moduss operandi. Few people can parrot the CTA’s claims that it cares deeply about helping kids without either laughing aloud or projectile vomiting.