Teacher Union “Mo’ Money” Show

Last week teacher union activists descended upon the Capitol but education reform was not on their agenda. The priority was lobbying legislators to vote in favor of Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax extensions‚ and avoid a vote of the people on the tax increases. The activists also targeted two education reform bills.

SB 266‚ authored by Republican Sen. Bob Dutton of Cucamonga‚ would temporarily suspend the requirement that laid-off teachers who substitute for at least 21 days be compensated at their old rate of pay. The California Teachers Association (CTA) insisted it was paying the hefty bill for the hundreds of substitute teachers needed in classrooms across the state‚ while the CTA troops deployed in Sacramento.

Lance Izumi‚ Pacific Research Institute education expert‚ said that teacher absenteeism has a significant negative impact on students. Yet‚ other than the financial consideration‚ the CTA offered no commentary about the absent teachers.

Teachers claimed that Sen. Dutton’s bill would penalize experienced‚ veteran teachers‚ deprive students of experienced teachers‚ and kill efforts to recruit quality or specialty-trained teachers. But Dutton counters that the requirement to pay laid-off teachers their old salary rate results in millions of dollars in higher costs for school districts‚ which is costing taxpayers too much for a state in a recession.

“Students do not deserve a temporary workforce‚” union lobbyists told legislators‚ and asked them to “look beyond the money savings.” The tired slogan‚ “our kids deserve better‚” was dragged out‚ as was “tax the rich‚” and rounded out with “Republicans — pass the bucks!” SB 266 failed to pass the committee along party lines.

The other controversial bill presented to the education committee was SB 355‚ authored by Diamond Bar Republican Sen. Bob Huff‚ which would authorize school districts to use performance standards during a layoff period‚ instead of seniority.

Huff said that using the standard “last in‚ first out” measurement for layoffs punishes students and robs them of some very good younger teachers. The bill is a tool designed to assist school districts and principals to get rid of the “duds‚” explained Huff. “We have the ability to choose doctors and dentists‚ but our school kids are trapped — even one bad teacher in 12 years is a setback.”

Huff said that getting rid of a bad teacher costs between $300‚000 and as much as $3 million. Lance Izumi said that the average cost to terminate a bad teacher is $400‚000.

But SB 355 did not receive committee approval and failed to pass‚ with committee Democrats refusing to vote on the bill. They sat on their hands while the vote was taken‚ and received much criticism from the union activists present at the hearing.

During the week of fevered protests CTA activists used kids as props and managed to get arrested for refusing to leave the Senate Minority Leader’s office at closing time. But the militant activists made some points crystal clear. Their only idea is “more money” for themselves. These extremists would rather see nasty cuts to the kids and classes instead of taking cuts to their unsustainable pensions and making small contribution increases toward their benefits.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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