There has been an outbreak of “concern” about the safety of “children” from adult predators, and those who “turn a blind eye” to such goings on. This comes naturally on the heels of the Penn State atrocities, and those at Miramonte Elementary, but I think there is more at work and this is part of a campaign to undermine teacher dismissal rights and due process. The summer started with an attempt to strip due process rights for teachers to a width thinner than dental floss here in California. Then Campbell Brown started the discussion in New York, accusing unions of “protecting” child molesters, making it sound like she was asking how long union members have been beating our spouses and children. If you all have had similar campaigns in your state, please share in the comments.
Ira Socol has done a bang-up job of looking at the systemic causes behind Penn State, and unions are not at the forefront of that. Rather it’s about a culture of power and the prestige of football. Miramonte is about LAUSD’s complete inability to manage its own house. We’ve seen a raft of legislation going through the state based on “problems” that need to be solved in that district. My response when I see a bill sponsored by someone like Padilla, and supported by LAUSD Supe Deasey now is to say, “That sounds like an LAUSD problem, and why are the rest of the districts in the state being punished for their incompetence?” (disclosure, I did ALL of my K-12 schooling at LAUSD public schools).
But let’s go back to this “outbreak” of concern about teachers unions and due process protecting those who endanger our children. What’s most interesting about this to me, and many of my fellow Sacramentarians, is StudentsFirst’s place in this whole media campaign. Why isn’t Michelle Rhee at the front and center (broom in hand) of this charge to “improve” student welfare? Maybe the fact that Ms. Rhee has admitted to behavior that could have, and likely should have, gotten her reported to child welfare authorities. Then there is her role in covering up allegations that her now husband behaved inappropriately with minor students at the school he runs here in Sacramento. Here in Sacramento, we already knew the score on that one and as this all un-folded, it was amusing to watch folks discover these details for themselves. She was obviously not the messenger for this, but the absence of her and her organization says a lot too. I do not mistake this for a lack of interest, or involvement.
The reality is, these cases are not neat and tidy. I’ve seen some accusations made that I thought were garbage, but you know, that’s not my call and that’s why you do things like report and have it investigated by someone outside. The Bakersfield Californian did a nice piece analyzing credential revocation hearings data for teachers in Kern County, which shows, shockingly I’m sure to so-called “reformers”, teachers getting dismissed/removed/credentials revoked for misdeeds. I suggest that for reading to get a more realistic picture of the situation. Contrary to the view of unions “protecting” abusers, sometimes they have to support teachers reporting abuse, so they aren’t punished for carrying out their duty as mandated reporters. But that doesn’t fit into neat little notions of unions being “bad” or a 140-character Tweet.