Unwarranted Influence of Education Establishment Blunts Reforms

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

In hearing that a number of common sense education reforms were turned away by the majority Democrats in the Assembly Education Committee last week I couldn’t help think of the famous line from President Dwight Eisenhower’s farewell address. Yes, quite a leap from a California assembly committee vote and Eisenhower’s call to be wary of the military-industrial complex. But, in considering the broad idea behind the president’s thought there is a connection.

Eisenhower said: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

Substituting the powerful education establish, led by the teachers unions, for the military-industrial complex there appears a similar concern that councils of government should guard against an unwarranted influence which leads to misplaced power. Read any news report about the influence of the state’s teachers unions over legislative action and you can see that the power is real.

In light of a judge’s decision in the Vergara decision that said poor school children were disadvantaged under the rules governing teachers, Republicans introduced bills that were designed to reveal the best teachers and protect them.

Assemblywoman Catherine Baker’s important bill to end the last-hired-first-fired regardless of teacher merit was pushed aside as was Assembly Minority Leader Kristin Olsen’s teacher rating system and Assemblyman Rocky Chavez’s extension of tenure period, I bill I discussed previously.

Nothing outrageous here. These reforms that have been discussed for years and now have a greater urgency given the court ruling. Yet the bills ended up with the same fate as similar reforms because of the unwarranted and powerful influence of the teachers unions.

Interestingly enough, it is many minority communities who want to see changes that suffer under the current rules. In the recent Public Policy Institute of California education poll, parents of school children overwhelmingly identified quality teachers as the most important factor in their child’s school. While 33% of white parents chose this factor as the top influence for their child’s education 47% of Latino parents made teacher quality their first choice.

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