Education

California Spending Big to Halt School Reform Lawsuit Backed by Republicans and the ACLU

The state is challenging, rather than resolve, a lawsuit brought by low-income students who say they are deprived of their right to a quality education.

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President Barack Obama famously quipped to congressional leaders in 2009 that "elections have consequences"—words he might now regret given the likely consequences of the GOP's big congressional gains in November. But regardless of party or politician, there's no doubt elections often have clear-cut public-policy results.

One of the few hotly contested California races from November was for the little-known position of superintendent of public instruction, the state's highest elected education official. Charter-schools executive Marshall Tuck said a win by union-allied Tom Torlakson would have ill consequences—namely, the state would continue to challenge a lawsuit brought by low-income students who say they are deprived of their right to a quality education.

Torlakson won a surprisingly strong victory and the Department of Education now is doing exactly what Tuck said it would do: continue to fight—rather than resolve—the case, known as Cruz v. the State of California. The Brown administration recently informed legislative leaders of a budget adjustment that will allow it to spend another $3.35 million on outside attorneys to continue the case.

Republicans highlighted the expenditure last week in their reaction to Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown's newly released budget proposal, but their real problem isn't the money (a small amount in a $113-billion general fund), but the policy. Assembly Republican Leader Kristin Olsen of Modesto said at a press briefing last week she objected to a lawsuit to "fund lawyers to fight kids."

Instead of investing in outside lawyers to protect the status quo, her office called on the state to spend its time and money fixing the problems that triggered the lawsuit. Olsen has a point when one looks closely at the situation these plaintiffs faced. It's troubling that these kids—students at seven public schools in the Bay Area and Southern California—needed to go to court to resolve some basic school-related problems.

In October, Alameda County Superior Court Judge George Hernandez Jr. issued a temporary restraining order and agreed that without an immediate fix the students in one particular school "will suffer serious and irreparable harm." In Jefferson High School in Los Angeles, a new computer system led to a class-scheduling disaster. Students spent hours waiting in the auditorium, those who received schedules "were assigned to inappropriate classes" and students often were sent to home classes "against their will, without parental consent, for the convenience of Jefferson," he wrote.

But the problems go beyond one school and the case is designed to prod the state into coming up with an emergency process that kicks in when school districts can't meet their most basic responsibilities.

"For these students, consigned to a series of schools that perpetually fail to deliver education, hope fades and potential is crushed," according to the complaint filed by the ACLU of Southern California (and others). "The loss of educational opportunity does not occur in any dramatic, headline-making way, but rather inexorably through the cumulative and debilitating effects, over time … ."

ACLU legal counsel David Sapp reminded me the $3.35 million is discretionary — officials could spend it on a solution rather than a legal battle.

It's not every day the state's GOP caucus is championing a legal case brought by the ACLU, but education reform looks like a Republican priority this year. "It's our caucus' position that it's time to fix the root of the problem and give kids in every neighborhood a quality education," said Amanda Fulkerson, Olsen's press secretary. "In the coming weeks we will release a bill package containing common-sense reforms that directly address having a quality school for every kid and a great environment for every teacher."

The other big school-reform case is known as Vergara. The state is fighting a June decision in Los Angeles Superior Court declaring the state's teacher job protections unconstitutional because they make it nearly impossible to fire incompetent teachers and deprive some students of quality teaching.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari made Vergara a key theme in his campaign, but he lost the election by 20 points. At his press conference on Friday, Gov. Brown said he was more concerned about teacher recruitment than changing the tenure system. There's no surprise there. Elections have consequences.

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  1. Is there any way to stem the flow of stupid from California to the rest of the country?

    1. Hopefully CA can serve as a negative example to the rest of the country.

      1. Hopefully California will sink into the Pacific.

        1. I definitely do NOT want California to sink into the Pacific if that means the progressives will move closer to where I am at. The progressives ought to have some place that they can congregate away from the rest of us.

          1. OK, but do they have to infest all the beautiful beach front areas? To me, it looks like a process that takes around fifty years (see Detroit). Conservatives make a place work. Conservatives start behaving like statists. Liberals move in like locusts and turn the place into a hellhole. Liberals move out in search of deeper pockets to steal from leaving the place a shell of its former self.

    2. And tidal waves couldn’t save the world
      From Californication…

    3. Build a giant wall around it and fill it with milk. It is the breakfast cereal state afterall: full of fruits, flakes, and nuts.

  2. If the rest of us end up bailing out California, will that count as a negative or positive example?

    1. Hello. Would you Flyover folks PUH-LEEZE heap some conditions on the bailout? At least appoint some czar with supreme budgetary authority.

  3. Is there a good side in this one? On one side, cementing an open-ended oblig’n on the part of the state to provide schooling. On the other side, biz as usual.

    1. Agreed. As much as I despise the education establishment, I certainly don’t support education as a “right” the state must provide and fund.

      1. I agree. Also, let them get what they deserve. If there are no negative consequences for statists, they never learn.

      2. Why not at the state level?

  4. It’s stories like this that makes me glad my dad took a job out of California and into Alabama. Why must the Bay Area be so left-wing?

  5. my neighbor’s mother-in-law makes $61 every hour on the internet . She has been without work for nine months but last month her pay check was $21792 just working on the internet for a few hours. visit this site right here……………
    ????? http://www.cashbuzz80.com

  6. my neighbor’s mother-in-law makes $61 every hour on the internet . She has been without work for nine months but last month her pay check was $21792 just working on the internet for a few hours. visit this site right here……………
    ????? http://www.cashbuzz80.com

  7. $89 an hour! Seriously I don’t know why more people haven’t tried this, I work two shifts, 2 hours in the day and 2 in the evening?And i get surly a chek of $1260……0 whats awesome is Im working from home so I get more time with my kids.
    Here is what i did
    ?????? http://www.paygazette.com

  8. Schools suspensions and expulsions are down in CA schools!

    http://www.latimes.com/local/l…..story.html

    ….After they made it impossible to suspend bad students.

  9. Just remember that California is like this because of all your scumbag midwest proggy relatives moved here. Native Californians are very reasonable. So fuck all you fucking assholes and your fucking shit-dump states.

    You don’t like what California votes for then come and get your fucking relatives and go back to Pennsylfuck-your-mothers.

    Also, fuck you.

    1. Don’t sugar coat it Weygand. Tell us what you really think!

  10. California has had decades of “reform” and the schools just get worse because nobody is willing to talk about the elephant in the room – the low quality of the students. We used to take it as a given that some students were dumb and we had a way of dealing with them through vocational courses. Now since those jobs are in China we have to pretend everybody is college material even if that means creating useless degrees for them to get before their start their careers at Starbucks.

    One day Occam’s razor will be used again.

    1. Get the teachers unions banned asa criminal conspiracies to bilk the taxpayers, and IF the schools are still as big a mess in ten years, I might be willing to listen to your argument.

      All over the country, parochial schools have posted superior results, taking “troubled” (read “we can’t do anything with the little shit”) students from public school systems and spending LESS money per pupil.

      There are doubtless all kinds of other problems with the public school system, but the biggest is the unionized turkeys who teach in them.

      1. Yeah, and how many of those kids are thrown out of parochial schools and you never hear about them?

        There will always be a few kids who will wake up and realize they are no longer victims. How many is that compared to the millions of dumb kids whose parents don’t really care but think “somebody” needs to educate their kid because they were told “their kid can be anything he wants”.

        The bottom line is there is a left hand side of the bell curve. Pretending it doesn’t exist like we have for the last 30 years has sure been a winning strategy.

  11. “For these students, consigned to a series of schools that perpetually fail to deliver education, hope fades and potential is crushed”

    Yet we are told every kid is college material. Yet somehow these college material kids aren’t capable of doing anything unless the teacher holds their hand every step of the way. I don’t know about you but I pretty much had to teach myself in high school and college.

    The teacher is only there for people who can’t figure it out on their own. Yes, that happens to everybody at some time. However, if it happens to you every time, the problem isn’t the school or teacher.

  12. just before I looked at the draft four $9879 , I didn’t believe that…my… father in law had been truly erning money part time from there computar. . there dads buddy has done this for only 21 months and just repaid the dept on their apartment and bourt a great Land Rover Range Rover .
    Read More Here ~~~~~~~~ http://www.jobs700.com

  13. The mindless outrage is thick here.

    The schools are run by local school districts with elected officials but this suit targets the state. It calls for more state intrusion. I’m guessing Republicans are on board mostly because it’s an opportunity to bash public education.

    Let’s look at a specific – tracking instruction time. Does that means tracking every minute in every class? Who’s going to log it – the teacher? A random student? A new non-instructional employee in every classroom?

    The governor’s budget is already redirecting more resources to those school that need extra help. Unless you want more state control over local schools, you want the state to fight this suit.

    The linked article makes it clear that the problems originate outside the schools – unstable families, bad neighborhoods, poverty. You can’t fix these inside the schools.

    Vergara? That’s a rich guy using a few students as a cover for his ideological attack on teachers and public education.

  14. just before I looked at the draft four $9879 , I didn’t believe that…my… father in law had been truly erning money part time from there computar. . there dads buddy has done this for only 21 months and just repaid the dept on their apartment and bourt a great Land Rover Range Rover .
    Read More Here ~~~~~~~~ http://www.jobs700.com

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