-By Larry Sand
Busting LAUSD and every other school district in the state for negligence should help kids, but itâ€™s anyoneâ€™s guess as to when. In the meantime, giving families more educational options would be a great help, but donâ€™t hold your breath, California.
With National School Choice Week underway, we see many positive things happening across the country. In states like New Jersey and Louisiana, governors are taking the lead in proposing ways to break the devastating monopoly that government run schools â€“ their educrat leaders, corrupt and/or inept school boards and the powerful teachers unions — have held for far too long.
As an example of Big Education gone bad, I write in City Journal about a crime that has been perpetrated on the children of California for 40 years and the lawsuit that addresses it:
For nearly 40 years, the Los Angeles Unified School District has broken the lawâ€”and nobody seemed to notice. Now a group of parents and students are taking the district to court. On November 1, a half-dozen anonymous families working with EdVoice, a reform advocacy group in Sacramento, filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against the LAUSD, district superintendent John Deasy, and United Teachers Los Angeles. The lawsuit in essence accuses the district and the union of a gross dereliction of duty. According to the parentsâ€™ complaint, the district and the union have violated the childrenâ€™s â€œfundamental right to basic educational equality and opportunityâ€ by failing to comply with a section of the California Education Code known as the Stull Act. Under the 1971 law, a school district must include student achievement as part of a teacherâ€™s evaluation. Los Angeles Unified has never done so: the teachers union wouldnâ€™t allow it. To continue reading â€œA 40-Year Shame,â€ go to http://www.city-journal.org/2012/cjc0119ls.html
However the above case is decided, there will undoubtedly be lawsuits, union pushback, teacher dissatisfaction and who-knows-what-else as the various special interests scramble to do what is best for themselves. And as always, childrenâ€™s needs are left out of the equation.
One way to transcend big government-union school domination would be to develop a system of universal school choice, including vouchers and tax credits. To that end, Alan Bonsteel and I passionately make the case for choice in an op-ed published in the Los Angeles Daily News this past Friday.
As we honor National School Choice week beginning Sunday, one fact stands out: 2012 marks the year when there can be no turning back in school choice reforms.
Last July, The Wall Street Journal dubbed 2011 “The Year of School Choice” because of legislation that had been passed all over our nation. For example, North Carolina and Tennessee eliminated caps on charter schools. Maine passed its first charter school law. Twelve states either adopted new voucher programs or expanded existing ones. After first turning its back on the popular D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program, Congress reconstituted funding for it. To continue reading â€œSchool Choice Reforms are More Vital Than Ever,â€ go to http://www.dailynews.com/opinions/ci_19779002
While it would undoubtedly be a boon to education and save taxpayers money, school choice at this time is an extremely tough political sell in the Golden State. The entrenched special interests in California are in control and to make the needed changes will entail a long, bloody struggle. As such, taxpayers and parents must take the lead and force change via the initiative process.
In a future post, I will examine what options families in California do have if they want to remove their children from failing schools.
Larry Sand began his teaching career in New York in 1971. Since 1984, he has taught elementary school as well as English, math, history and ESL in the Los Angeles Unified School District, where he also served as a Title 1 Coordinator. Retired in 2009, he is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network â€“ a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues â€“ information teachers will often not get from their school districts or unions.
“CTEN” was formed in 2006 because a wide range of information from the more global concerns of education policy, education leadership, and education reform, to information having a more personal application, such as professional liability insurance, options of relationships to teachersâ€™ unions, and the effect of unionism on teacher pay, comes to teachers from entities that have a specific agenda. Sandâ€™s comments and op-eds have appeared in City Journal, Associated Press, Newsweek, Townhall Magazine, Los Angeles Times, San Diego Union Tribune, Los Angeles Daily News, San Jose Mercury News, Orange County Register and other publications. This past May, after his weekly blog proved to be very popular, he began writing a monthly article for City Journal, the Manhattan Instituteâ€™s policy publication. He has appeared on numerous broadcast news programs and talk radio shows in Southern California and nationally.
Sand has participated in panel discussions and events focusing on education reform efforts and the impact of teachersâ€™ unions on public education. In March 2010, Sand participated in a debate hosted by the non-profit Intelligence Squared, an organization that regularly hosts Oxford-style debates, which was nationally broadcast on Bloomberg TV and NPR, as well as covered by Newsweek. Sand and his teammates â€“ Terry Moe of the Hoover Institution and former U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige, opposed the proposition – Donâ€™t Blame Teachers Unions For Our Failing Schools. The pro-union team included Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. In August 2010, he was on a panel at the Whereâ€™s the Outrage? Conference in San Francisco, where he spoke about how charter school operators can best deal with teachersâ€™ unions. This past January he was on panels in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Mateo in support of National School Choice week. Additionally, CTEN has hosted two informational events this year â€“ one addressing the secret agenda that is prevalent in many schools these days and the other concerning itself with Californiaâ€™s new Parent Trigger law. The latter event was covered by both the English and Spanish language press.
Sand has also worked with other organizations to present accurate information about the relationship between teachers and their unions, most recently assisting in the production of a video for the Center for Union Facts in which a group of teachers speak truthfully about the teachersâ€™ unions. At this time, he is conferring with and being an advisor to education policy experts who are crafting major education reform legislation.
CTEN maintains an active and strong new media presence, reaching out to teachers and those interested in education reform across the USA, and around the world, with its popular Facebook page, whose members include teachers, writers, think tankers, and political activists. Since 2006, CTEN has experienced dramatic growth.
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