Duh: State schools chief realizes gov dangling students out the window is not a good thing

The very element that gives Jerry Brown the best chance to sell his tax hike plan — if it doesn’t go through, K-12 students will take a brutal beating — should terrify state educators. Kids are being used as political props in a down-and-dirty effort to raise taxes by any means necessary — but with an electorate that’s usually hostile to tax hikes. Should the education establishment want students to be the human sacrifices if voters don’t buy Jerry’s plan? Of course not. Now Tom Torlakson has finally figured out what’s at risk.

[The} state superintendent of schools said Thursday that while he supports Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax increase ballot measure, he considers Brown is being “blatantly unfair” to schools in targeting them for spending cuts should voters reject new taxes.

Brown holds school financing level in his proposed 2012-13 budget, which assumes passage of his package of sales and income tax increases, but would whack the schools by more than $4 billion if voters reject the package via automatic “triggers.”

The either-or nature of the budget is seen in political circles as a way of selling the tax package because schools, polls say, are the single most popular areas of government spending.

If you’re a high-powered political operative with the California Teachers Association who knows that even if voters reject Brown’s tax hikes that veteran teachers will still be protected by tenure rules, using this hardball approach may not seem like much of a gamble.

But if you are Torlakson — or a district superintendent or school principal anywhere in California — you should be desperately worried about what happens to K-12 education in the Golden State if voters stick to form and reject tax hikes.

I think this is especially so because the ability of the CTA to use TV ads to sell the idea that teachers speak “for the children” just isn’t nearly as potent as it used to be.

And if the media ever got around to telling Californians that teachers get automatic raises separate from collective bargaining for at least their first 10 years on the job — as well as whenever they complete meaningless graduate course work — the CTA’s clout would decline even more.

The school budget problem, the student performance problem and the insanity that is lifetime teacher tenure are all intricately interrelated. This would be obvious in a media culture that had an IQ of, oh, 95. It is literally incredible that so many journos buy the argument that teachers — unlike any other profession — can’t be honestly and reliably evaluated on competence grounds.


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