In case Think Long’s proposal to reduce taxes on the highest earners in favor of additional taxes on the middle class wasn’t enough to piss off the Left, there is this little treasure in the report: (via SacBee)
We believe such new funding should not be automatically given to a system that is failing to educate millions of Californians. It instead should be tied to improving performance of K-12 schools, as a result of rigorous evaluation of teachers, as well as curbs on automatic teacher tenure and seniority.
So…in case No Child Left Behind didn’t do enough to screw up the schools, we need to tie state school funding in a larger way to a deeply flawed system of test-first, test-last, and test-always that encourages teachers to teach to the test. The rest of that second sentence is merely rehashing Arnold Schwarzenegger proposals that voters soundly rejected at the polls.
What we have here is nothing really all that different from what California Forward and other similar corporate-leaning centrist organizations are pushing. And unsurprisingly it isn’t getting great reviews. Here is Dean Vogel, current president of the California Teachers Association:
“The Think Long Committee Report was supposed to be a bipartisan path to rebuilding California’s future, not a dangerous detour that would hurt students and the poor. Educators are alarmed by these recommendations to raise taxes on the poor, lower taxes for corporations, dismantle Proposition 98 – the state’s minimum school funding law – and avoid repaying $10 billion already owed to public schools and students.”
Without getting bogged down in NCLB, what really amazes me is that all these people want to look for causation only at teachers and schools. When they see a struggling school, they only see “failing teachers.” They never stop to look around the neighborhoods to see the failing communities. The families torn apart by poverty. Parents who rarely see their children because they are working multiple jobs. Sure, Newt Gingrich has a plan to solve that problem, (let’s create an army of 9 year old janitors!) but no solutions for addressing the inequality in our society seems to be present in the Think Long Report.
If you want to see better performing schools, teachers are merely an easy scapegoat. Some teachers are truly more gifted than others, and we should encourage teacher quality. However, that is only one small portion of the underlying problems. Causation is never an easy, but politicians and billionaires apparently share an interest in preferring easy answers over good, thoughtful policy.
Think Long has said that a repeal to Prop 98 will not be in their tax measure that they intend to bring to the ballot. However, their posture really goes to more than just Prop 98, it goes to the heart of our system of public education. Their attacks are certainly not the first, nor will they be the last as profit-seekers look to open up public education to corporate style earnings.
Brian Leubitz publishes Calitics.com, a leading California progressive blog covering California politics, where this article was originally published.