Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Why California’s next election will be a tug-of-war on education

Why California’s next election will be a tug-of-war on education:

Why California’s next election will be a tug-of-war on education

Sandra Lowe reminisced about the good old days as she addressed a roomful of Democratic activists at the California party’s annual convention last week in Sacramento. It used to be, the teachers union leader told the crowd, that it didn’t take much to win a school board race: a short statement in the election handbook, a little money for some mail and the shoe-leather to knock on doors and talk to voters.
Now, Lowe said, things are different. Wealthy donors have put big money into shaking up public education by backing candidates willing to challenge union orthodoxy. And the impact they had this month on the school board race in Los Angeles — ousting a union-backed incumbent and electing a new majority that favors charter schools — is likely to reverberate across California.
“It’s not just an L.A. situation,” said Lowe, a California Teachers Association consultant. “This is going to happen everywhere.”
The future of public education in California has become a tug-of-war between different camps within the Democratic Party. Democrats aligned with organized labor – who dominated local and legislative races for many years — are now facing formidable challenges from Democrats who see overhauling some union rules as a key to improving education.
The Democrat vs. Democrat split that played out in the Los Angeles school board election also emerged in several legislative races last year. Now, as California looks toward the election of a new governor and a new school superintendent next year, the fight over public education is bound to get hotter.
California made major changes in the schools during Jerry Brown’s last two terms as governor — putting a new Common Core curriculum in place and revamping the funding formula to send more money to schools serving needy children. Yet academic achievement remains dismal. Slightly more than half the state’s students cannot read and write at their grade level, results from last year’s testing shows, and 63 percent aren’t meeting standards in math.
Each camp has its own view of the solution. Teachers unions generally argue that society should Why California’s next election will be a tug-of-war on education:

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