Monday, January 03, 2011

New PAC in town; education reform is about to heat up

Another article along the same lines:

GIVEN the importance of California's public schools, you'd think the critical decisions that affect the education of our children would be debated and vetted with all due diligence in Sacramento. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Votes on education policy are often determined by a single question asked in back rooms: Does the CTA support it?

Apparently, the unwritten rule is that if the California Teachers Association supports an education bill, then the Democrat-controlled Legislature can pass it. The reason? Money, lots of it. CTA is one of the biggest spenders on lobbying in Sacramento in the past decade, according to the California Fair Political Practices Commission. If the powerful CTA opposes a bill - or a candidate - it has the money to make sure it goes away.

So says termed-out state Sen. Gloria Romero, who championed education reform such as the Parent Trigger Law while serving as chairwoman of the Senate's Education Committee. She should know; she was pounded by the CTA in the primary race for state superintendent of public instruction, which mobilized to make sure she didn't get elected. It worked. Of the three top candidates, she came in third.

When Romero sought partners to push education reform legislation, she had to rely on Republicans and a handful of Democrats willing to buck the CTA. There's nothing wrong with bipartisanship, but in a Democrat-controlled Legislature, successful bills need strong Democrat support.

But, Romero found, her fellow Democrats were afraid to bite the hand that feeds them - or, more accurately, antagonize the interest group that spends tremendous amounts of money and manpower supporting Democratic candidates. Too often, legislators who could be persuaded to support reforms essential for California public schools - such as using student scores as a measure of teacher performance and making it easier to convert traditional schools to charters - buckle for fear of losing CTA support in their next election.

It's politics, pure and simple. And, Romero knows, the only way to counter politics is with politics. That's why she signed on to head the California chapter of Democrats for Education Reform



Daily News editorial: New PAC in town; education reform is about to heat up

Posted: 12/26/2010 08:50:27 AM PST

Updated: 12/26/2010 08:51:55 AM PST

 Subscribe in a reader