Despite rhetoric on policy, there is often a more strident, hidden agenda behind a number of bills that are vying for passage the last week of the session. Take two examples: AB 484 to change school testing and AB 711, a statewide ban on lead bullets.
The school bill would eliminate the test used to measure student achievement that has been in place for almost fifteen years and move toward a test based on a Common Core of learning. During the transition period from one set of tests to a new method, there will be no measuring stick applied to students at all.
While supporters of the change say the lack of testing is temporary, others suspect there is more at work here. In his column, Dan Walters wrote that it is widely believed that the goal of the teachers’ union, which is behind the bill, is to see that testing is “quietly killed.”
Teachers don’t like to be judged by test scores. In a longer view, the teachers’ union is adamantly opposed to any form of merit pay, in which a teacher’s salary is determined by his or her success in the classroom. One way to measure that success is through student test scores. If there are no standardized test scores, that pillar to establish a merit pay system is removed.
AB 484 may be designed to find a testing system based on better parameters for learning, but a more certain goal is to strengthen the hand of the teachers’ union.
On the contrary, a number of unions want to defeat AB 711, the bill to prohibit lead bullets in California. Some union members want the bill defeated because they feel jobs could be lost and hunting and sport shooting would be crippled in the state.
Conservationists behind the bill say its purpose is to protect the California condor who can die from lead poisoning after eating lead-tainted animal remains in the wild.
However, many believe bill supporters’ true agenda is to end hunting in the state. Replacement for lead ammunition is costly and hard to get. Eliminating lead ammunition would simply eliminate more hunting.
While advocates often build a case for legislation based on appealing arguments, its always wise to check behind the curtain to see what they’re really up to.