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Aggressive public relations campaign amplifies courtroom battle against teacher work rules


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A lawsuit challenging teacher tenure, seniority and dismissal laws is underway in Los Angeles. Credit: EdSource file photo

The potentially game-changing Vergara v. California lawsuit, which attacks key aspects of California law on how teachers are evaluated and fired, opened in Los Angeles last week and has been accompanied by an aggressive public relations campaign unmatched by the opposing side – the State of California and  its teachers unions.

The campaign seems designed to make sure that the explosive issues being raised regarding teachers’ job security in California ripple far beyond a cramped courtroom in Los Angeles and help shape public opinion across the state and nation.

Remarkably, this one-sided communications war has been initiated by a single person – Silicon Valley entrepreneur David Welch, the founder of the nonprofit organization Students Matter, which brought the suit – and provides a case study of what impact a single individual can have if he has the resources, or access to them, to take action based on his beliefs.

California Teachers Association President Dean Vogel says his organization, representing more than 300,000 teachers, has no intention of trying to counteract what he described as a campaign funded by the bottomless pockets of the “billionaires boys club.”

“The media blitz is no surprise to us,” he said. “We expected this kind of barrage. We believe that what people want is not flashy PR but real substantive conversations with teachers that they deal with every day. Our focus is not on the media show, but getting out into the community and engaging with parents and community stakeholders. When we tell them the truth they will stand with us.”

However, the sophisticated campaign mounted by the communications firm Griffin|Schein is vastly amplifying the voice of Students Matter, founded in 2010 by Welch, who describes himself as having “30 years of entrepreneurial leadership in fiber optic communications.”

The organization is a relative newcomer to the California education policy landscape. The organization has no staff on its payroll, or even its own office. Instead it is run out of its communications firm’s office in Los Angeles. Its sole purpose, as described on its website, is “sponsoring impact litigation to promote access to quality public education.  Welch’s net worth is unknown, although public reports assert that he receives more than $2 million in annual compensation from the Infinera Corporation, which he founded.

For weeks leading to the opening of the trial on Jan. 27, media outlets have received a stream of emails and announcements about the pending proceedings.

An email sent out on the weekend before the trial opened provided possible tweets – complete with scripts, hashtags and Twitter handles – with a half dozen to draw from. Here’s one: Let’s get back to basics, starting with a great teacher in every classroom! I support @Students_Matter #VergaraTrial

Students Matter called a news conference a few days before the trial opened, and on opening day yet another news conference was held during the lunch break with all nine students who are listed in the suit as plaintiffs in the case, along with Los Angeles Unified Superintendent John Deasy who has testified on their behalf.

Students Matter founder David Welch. Credit: Students Matter

Students Matter founder David Welch. Credit: Students Matter

On the morning the trial opened, Students Matter emails sent at 5 a.m. by the communications firms landed in media outlets’ inboxes.  Before 8 a.m. that day a news release appeared on Yahoo News with the headline “California Students Get Their Day in Court: Groundbreaking Education Equality Trial Begins Today.”

Within minutes of the trial’s opening at 10 a.m., reporters received an email “live from the courtroom” with a 54-slide PowerPoint outlining the plaintiffs’ case, as well as a “Trial Tracker” that promised daily highlights and quotes, as well as footage from the trial. Before 6 p.m., at the end of the day, another email blast declared that “California Students Get Their Day in Court,” with a detailed description of the day’s proceedings – from the plaintiffs’ perspective – opening with quotes from lead co-counsel Ted Boutros’ opening statements.

Welch has also expressed his views in several op-ed pieces – all part of the media campaign – including one that appeared on the trial’s opening day in the Orange County Register.  The communications firm now sends out daily wrap-ups to the news media at the conclusion of each day’s proceedings.

There has been no significant communications counter-attack from the State of California, the defendants in the suit, nor from the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers who would be most directly affected if the plaintiffs were to prevail in the case.   The Los Angeles Times has run reports on each day of the trial during its opening week of what is now expected to be a six-week trial.  But most media outlets have not cover the trial beyond the first day. So for those in the media and elsewhere  interested in getting summaries of the proceedings,  their main source of information may well be the daily bulletins put out by the plaintiffs.

“It doesn’t surprise us at all they are pumping hundreds of thousands of dollars, maybe millions, into these kinds of campaigns,” the CTA’s Vogel said. “They are trying to turn this into a court of public opinion rather than a court of law.”

The Griffin|Schein firm has represented a wide range of clients of differing political persuasions, including the opponents of Proposition 8; Sandy Hook Promise, the organization founded by parents and other survivors of the Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre; and the Walmart Foundation. The firm is headed by Felix Schein, a former journalist and producer for NBC’s Today show who has an MBA from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.

In fact, the organization’s “team,” as described on its website, consists of only three players – Welch, the Griffin|Shein communications firm and the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, including the lead co-counsel on the case, Ted Olson. Olson was solicitor general in the administration of President George W. Bush, but most recently confounded perceptions of where he stands politically with his successful challenge in the U.S. Supreme Court of Prop. 8, the initiative banning gay marriage in

Welch founded Students Matter in 2010, apparently with the sole purpose of filing this lawsuit. The organization’s initial name was The Students First Foundation, but then former D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee took that name for her Sacramento-based organization, StudentsFirst. So the group is now known as Students Matter.

According to the organization’s tax forms, called Form 990s, in 2011 it paid $515,919 to its original law firm of Quinn Emanuel and another $451,058 to Griffin|Schein through a donation and an interest-free loan.

In 2012, its expenses jumped considerably. Two law firms – Quinn Emanuel along with its current law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher – were paid $1,472,270 and Griffin|Schein, $491,758. Those two payments alone amounted to 97 percent of the organization’s total budget. Figures for 2013 are not yet available, but presumably will be  much higher given the preparation for the lawsuit and the escalating public relations campaign being mounted on its behalf last year. 

The Form 990s indicate that Welch made nearly $1.5 million in interest free loans to Students Matter in 2011 and 2012, but it is not clear the extent to which other high net worth individuals have also contributed.

The forms also show show that the three founding board members were Welch and Silicon Valley venture capitalist luminaries Ajit Shah and Ted Schlein of the firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

A Griffin|Schein staffer provided a list of of the group’s advisory board, which he said is now its legal board as well, but that could not be confirmed with the board itself.  The board is headed by Russlynn Ali, the former head of Education Trust-West in Oakland and until last year assistant secretary for civil rights in the U.S. Department of Education.  She is currently chair of the Emerson Education Fund, part of the Emerson Collective established by Laurene Powell Jobs, who was married to the late Steve Jobs.

Also on the board is Ted Mitchell, the president and CEO of the NewSchools Venture Fund, who was nominated by President Barack Obama last fall to be undersecretary of education in the U.S. Department of Education.

Another board member is Ben Austin, executive director of Parent Revolution, the organization promoting the “parent trigger” laws allowing parents to effect radical changes in their children’s schools, including converting them to charter schools. Maria Casillas, currently the chief of School, Family and Parent/Community Services for the Los Angeles Unified School District, is also on the board, along with Schlein and Arthur Rock, described in a New York Times article as “one of the founding fathers of venture capital.”  Rock made it onto the cover of Time as one of the instigators of the Silicon Valley dot.com boom two decades ago. 

A spokesperson for Students Matter said that although Welch consulted with her, Rhee has never been on the advisory board, contrary to a 2012 article in the Los Angeles Times.

The CTA’s Vogel said he was not surprised that two members of the board – Ali and Mitchell – were or are about to be high-level figures in the U.S. Department of Education.   “We are on a different team,” he said.  “Our major concern is not that they (Students Matter) will win the public over, our concern is all the money and time and energy that is going to this nonsense instead of to what we know is really works in our schools,” he said.”It is a shame that we have to go through this charade rather than stand together and tackle the issues together.”

Welch did not respond to requests for an interview, but on the KQED Radio program on Forum last Friday, Ted Boutros, the plaintiffs’ co-counsel who has been a prominent figure in the lawsuit’s media campaign,  said Welch “should be commended” for bringing the suit along with “some of the innovations from Silicon Valley” to the state’s public school system.

“People like David Welch and others who are trying to change the system, and go up against the powerful forces like the unions, are just trying to help students here,” he said “That is  what this is about …This is not an attempt to take over the public schools and privatize them.”

Filed under: Evaluations, Pay and Tenure, Reforms, Teaching

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64 Responses to “Aggressive public relations campaign amplifies courtroom battle against teacher work rules”

  1. Floyd Thursby said

    on February 8, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    Manuel, quit feeling sorry for teachers the kids are the real victims. We all know bad teachers exist. Threatening to sue over individualized situations just intimidates anyone from doing anything and maintains the status quo in which it is cost-prohibitive to fire bad teachers and some bad teachers are paid almost double some good ones. All pay, promotion, lay offs, placement, etc. are based on seniority, far worse than maybe in one obscure case a good teacher was named with a bad one in a case. I’ve seen terrible ones the union defended, and they individualize it to force you to prove this, and prove that, all the while putting in union rules that you can’t get access to their files from their last job, attendance, etc. and just say the administrator has to do it right. You are defending the status quo which is hurting children. You’re not part of the solution man. You’re part of the problem!

    • Manuel replied

      on February 8, 2014 at 8:43 pm

      “Floyd,” I am not feeling sorry for teachers.

      I am feeling sorry for kids who have parents who take away their childhood and then blame the teachers for the shortcomings of their children.

      We all know these are bad parents.

      If you are defending these parents, you are for the status quo.

      These parents are the problem, not the solution.

  2. Gary Ravani said

    on February 6, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    OP/ED from todays LA Times with a great cartoon. A quick quote and then a link to the full article:

    “As a parent, it’s easy to see why it would be good to make it easier to fire bad teachers. As the son of a hardworking teacher, it’s easier to see why teachers would need tenure. As in any other workplace, which teachers are judged “good” or “bad” falls to the boss — in this case, usually the school principal — who may or may not render a fair judgment free of personal bias based on personality or philosophy. Accusations of wrongdoing or incompetence levied by parents may or may not be fair.”

    http://www.latimes.com/opinion/opinion-la/la-ol-rall-teacher-tenure-20140205,0,6804342.story#ixzz2sZQ8PXKT

    • navigio replied

      on February 6, 2014 at 2:20 pm

      and questions of competence or capacity when it comes to the principal are also relevant. a while back someone posted a link to the responsibilities of a principal. the list is mind-bogglingly long. even putting your best people in those positions wont get all the tasks done, let alone someone with reduced desire, capacity or organizational skills..

  3. navigio said

    on February 6, 2014 at 10:42 am

    Btw, I just want to step back for a second and remind people that the trees may be blocking our view of the slow motion train wreck.

    The push for lower funding for public education has been done in the name of ‘breaking the system’ (or breaking the union, or forcing district admins to prioritize kids, etc). This strategy is actually admitted explicitly during public funding discussions (parcel tax initiatives are a common place). The problem is, this is a political strategy that, wait for it, uses kids as a pawn in the games of adults. I mean seriously, lets withhold money from education to try to coerce them into a different behavior. Kids be damned. How perverse can you get.

    The problem is, as funding is cut, this actually reduces the ability for districts or boards to respond in different ways. Although its not the only one, the issue of effective teacher evaluations is a good example of that. It takes people to manage people. It takes people to evaluate people. When you reduce to the bare bones, you are left with a lack of management, or at least the lack of managerial ability to do what is expected of them. Not only does CA have the lowest levels of school and admin staffing of anywhere in the country, most arguments for adjusting funding want to be able to do so in ways that has zero impact on the human resources of a district (except maybe to cut them and/or their pay further).

    When Deasy said it costs too much money to fire bad teachers he is actually saying two things: we’ve prioritized the money we have to not fire bad teachers because we believe that is the least effective use of our funding (doh!). And he is saying that the state does not sufficiently fund education for him to be able to effectively do his job given the criteria under which he must work (double doh!). Odd that his ‘solution’ is to simply change the rules rather than try to get what he needs to do his job. That is, of course, a political argument, not a pedagogical one.

    Education has been duped into having a discussion about whether tenure and/or seniority is effective because the state (by virtue of the voters) has given it no choice. I would even argue this lawsuit is simply the next step in the process of breaking the system altogether. Again, kids be damned.

    • el replied

      on February 6, 2014 at 11:09 am

      Nicely put, navigio.

    • Manuel replied

      on February 8, 2014 at 8:51 pm

      Et tu, navigio?

      Anyone who uses kids like you do to make a point is for the status quo.

      Remember, these good folks have to burn the village in order to save it. We should all sing their praises because they are the solution and you and me are the problem!

  4. Floyd Thursby said

    on February 6, 2014 at 12:37 am

    Navigio, your energy is always in finding any desperate excuse to maintain the status quo. The whole reason you can’t do anything to fix these problems is the way the laws are now biased towards the adult interest group and not children, and that’s what Vergara and Davis aim to change, but you want to nitpick and say let’s do it a different way, then you look for holes. Do you have a plan to reduce absenteeism? You don’t fire everyone for being sick, but it is a factor, so that most responsible people feel a little nervous each time they call in sick, a little guilty, and this minimizes it. Promotions, lay offs, bonuses, all tied to it. There’s a reason software engineers and lawyers call in sick less than teachers.

    You sound like Bush II, the way everyone who disagreed with him, they’d come out with a smear campaign, they were ambitious, they were bitter they weren’t promoted to a higher position, they didn’t get along with people, etc. Every time someone in the administration came out and criticized the way decisions were made, they were attacked.

    The truth is, it doesn’t matter if I am a CEO or a busboy or a war hero or a community leader or a serial killer, it’s a fallacy to focus on that, it’s called ad hominem. The point is what is best for children. Should we put children first, or adults? If seniority is best, why don’t all elite private schools such as Exeter put in lifetime job guarantees after 2 years with 100k costs to fire anyone, due process which is really amazingly burdensome process, all pay by seniority, all promotions, etc? They don’t because it doesn’t work. Don’t poor kids deserve the same guarantee as kids at Exeter and Marin Day? Do the children of the Gettys deserve a bad teacher to be fired, but the children of the Sanchez’s and Smiths and the 90% of our kids in public school don’t deserve said guarantee? Why are the children of the rich’s education more important than adult job security, but the children of the poor’s less important, according to you?

    It’s not set in stone that it is illegal. It’s not illegal to fire a software engineer or accountant at Google for calling in sick too often. I’ve been at many companies and when they do lay offs, they look at how many days a person missed along with other factors, and they make a balanced, comprehensive decision based on their salary, their contribution, their loyalty, their work ethic, their attendance, etc. Yes, their being at will is better for the organization, and our children are more important than the profits of any one company. We have record profits, but we have lower educational test scores than nearly all other advanced industrialized nations, and lower class mobility, as written about in this month’s Atlantic. California is one of 11 states with seniority/tenure/due process dominant, and despite being near the top economically, is near the bottom in terms of test scores. It’s no coincidence.

    Firing someone for getting pregnant? No, you take a leave if pregnant, take a sabbatical year, or plan for it in the Summer, or take a little time off, no one is for firing someone for being pregnant, that’s not a huge problem in industry, you are just trying to create horror stories to pretend you’ll fix education another way, so we turn our head and you go back to the status quo, not falling for it. It’s disingenuous.

    Navigio, you seem to just think throwing money at the problem will fix it. Yes, I am focused on employment conditions because this will help test scores more than cash. I want to put more money into the problem, but not before we change this, otherwise it will just mean throwing good money after bad.

    These are the facts, and they are undisputed.

    • navigio replied

      on February 6, 2014 at 7:27 am

      Ah yes, that pesky reality again. Sorry to bring up the fact that we have laws in this state and country besides the ones you want to get rid of.

      Ad hominem means basing the argument on some irrelevant fact about the person. I dont remember ever saying anything about you personally. And ironically, an invalid claim of ad hominem is itself ad hominem. tit for tat.. whatever.

      Firing someone for being pregnant historically has been an actual problem. You’re right that its not the norm, but remember that the teaching force is primarily female.

      No one is suggesting simply throwing money at the problem, just that lack of money is actually part of the problem.

      And good money after bad? Are you implying that we should not even be spending what we are spending now? Boy oh boy.

      Stick to those undisputed facts floyd.

    • Manuel replied

      on February 8, 2014 at 8:58 pm

      Ah, this is so delicious, I can’t help myself:

      Firing someone for getting pregnant? No, you take a leave if pregnant, take a sabbatical year, or plan for it in the Summer, or take a little time off, no one is for firing someone for being pregnant, that’s not a huge problem in industry, you are just trying to create horror stories to pretend you’ll fix education another way, so we turn our head and you go back to the status quo, not falling for it. It’s disingenuous.

      Wow, no teacher can have a child during the school year! They must schedule it for summer! Why don’t these awful teachers think of that? Think of the children (and stop being so selfish in having a family)!!

      Take a little time off!! Ever heard of the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, “Floyd?” No?

      “No one is firing someone for being pregnant.” This one is a doozy because Deasy’s own mother was fired for being pregnant back in the good old days when teachers did not get “tenure!” Ah, the irony!

      Facts, who needs facts when you can make them up…

  5. Floyd Thursby said

    on February 5, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    I think due process has become synonymous for a very burdensome process which, in reality if not in theory, becomes overly expensive and insurmountable. I believe if a principal wants to fire a teacher and the evaluations and test scores are not strong, it should be possible. If under 1% of teachers are fired over a career, which is the case in New York and San Francisco, and Los Angeles, that is too difficult. If it costs $100,000, that is too difficult. The pro-union apologists often say you just have to follow procedure, but they know it is intimidating and burdensome and means, in the real world, it is a rarity for teachers to be fired. Most teachers are below average college graduates, and would have to work hard in their spare time to reach the knowledge of an above average college graduate. The idea of summers off initially was for intellectual development. Some teachers do this, some don’t. The days off should not be encouraged, I think that if you have lay offs, you look at the last 5 years and choose the ones who call in sick the least, get the few ones who never call in sick, and reward them by keeping them even if they only have 2 years seniority. You need flexibility. Sure, some due process, but over a career, some people should turn 50 and get fired, it should be possible and likely.

    The essential principle is that adult job security should be a very low priority compared with the rights of children, by a 10-1 ratio.

    • Manuel replied

      on February 5, 2014 at 9:47 pm

      “Floyd,” you are a one-note band.

      You have nothing to offer other than your anger and the same unworkable solution: make teachers at-will employees.

      You rigidly stick to your dogma and that puts you on the fringe, in my opinion.

      Good luck in managing your condition.

      • Ann replied

        on February 5, 2014 at 10:35 pm

        Shoot the messenger eh? You have no real response to what he says so instead you question his mental state? Where are the editors?

        • Manuel replied

          on February 8, 2014 at 8:48 pm

          Oh, Ann, of course I have a real response. I’ve given it to him several times. In fact, I’ve even gone out of my way to give him several approaches. Does he respond sanely? No, he goes back to the same meme over and over and over and over…

          Given that, he has demonstrated OCD, don’t you think?

          As for the editors, well, you and him have attacked the editors calling into question their ethics as publishers. Shouldn’t they be paying attention to you instead?

      • Paul Muench replied

        on February 6, 2014 at 4:28 am

        At-will employment is not all bad. It means the employee can also leave on short notice. But teachers have contracts. And the best I can tell from some web searching is that a district can hold them to the annual contract. And the district can ask the state to suspend a teachers credential for up to a year for breaking a contract. But it seems most districts are very lenient and just hire substitutes until a replacement can be found. But since each district has its own teacher contract a,teachers obligatin can vary by disfrict. Are there any common practices?

    • navigio replied

      on February 5, 2014 at 10:10 pm

      I hate to say it, but I expect firing or laying off teachers based on how often they get sick would be illegal even without the challenged statutes. I expect it would also mean firing someone for getting pregnant?

  6. Manuel said

    on February 5, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    Jamie, have you been able to figure out who the teachers in this case are?

    None of them are defendants. But all of them are smeared.

    Wonder if any of them will sue for defamation…

  7. Floyd Thursby said

    on February 5, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    Gary, the union does not consistently support what’s best for children, but what’s best for teachers. Saying due process helps kids is like saying what’s good for GM is good for America, or what’s good for Exxon is good for America. How was it good for children for the union in San Francisco to spend nearly a million dollars to send a flier to homes saying if Prop H passed, children would have their school assignment switched in January? Now some kids are on a bus for hours a day, some who live right near one school are assigned 5+ miles from home, multiple bus rides? And the schools are completely segregated, horribly so, now, often the person who replaced them is equally well off but won an obscure switch algorithm, as the people who have money are the ones who can afford to commute. Even a far left school board member, Matt Haney, who has a tattoo of Brown v. Topeka and ran on the current policy changed his mind saying it is not working at all in terms of causing integration:

    http://www.sfexaminer.com/sanfrancisco/a-hunger-games-for-parents-in-san-francisco/Content?oid=2648935

    This didn’t help children, or have anything to do with teacher’s rights. In fact, more would go public rather than move or go private, and more money would come from the state, so this actually cost some teacher jobs in the lay off.

    The union may have some responsibility, but you are an individual and show yourself to be a puppet on these boards when you don’t acknowledge both sides. You pretend there are no bad teachers who are protected because districts don’t have the money to fire them, and this never hurts children. I’ve seen it happen, but you just disregard it like you are in a war, not an intellectual, and the 22 children who couldn’t get a permanent replacement and got a series of subs in my child’s class last year were just “collateral damage”. The 7.5% absence is no big deal to you, or 12% the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.

    Let me put it this way Gary, have you ever taken a day off just because you felt like it when you were not sick and could have easily taught the kids? Or do you only miss a day when you have no other option?

    If you had to choose between a 30-year old teacher everyone is inspired by or a 60-year old who is calling in sick 14 times a year, even when not sick, and every parent avoids, for your child, what would you do?

    Third, did you ever see ‘Waiting for Superman’? Did you watch that movie and root against the reformers?

    • navigio replied

      on February 5, 2014 at 8:43 pm

      Ok Floyd, now it’s time to be extra-clear. Did you mean to say we should have no due process?

      • Ann replied

        on February 5, 2014 at 10:31 pm

        Not your version of “due process”….absolutely not. Teacher’s deserve the same protections as the rest of society.

        • TheMorrigan replied

          on February 6, 2014 at 6:55 pm

          Ann,

          Do you mean the due process or career status rights of nurses?

          Do you mean the due process or career status rights of doctors?

          Do you mean the due process rights or career status of firefighters or law enforcement?

          Do you mean the due process rights for lawyers?

          Do you mean the due process rights of any federal, state, or local employee?

          Or were you thinking about other aspects of our society, like the due process rights for children/students?

          Or the due process rights for parents?

          Or the due process rights for customers?

          Were you not talking about civil or public servants, but what private employees have at Burger King, for instance?

          Or was there a noun that was supposed to follow the possessive that didn’t get put in that would help clarify your claim about “the rest of society”?

          Perhaps if we could narrow this down, it might help us all reach some form of rhetorical stasis in our argumentation so we could avoid the hyperbole.

          • Ann replied

            on February 8, 2014 at 11:49 am

            Doctors, lawyers? A bad lawyer or doctor loses his client base pretty quickly and if he is engaging in malpractice his license as well. I don’t know how strong the nurses union has become but I doubt a hospital or a practice would take a chance on a lawsuit if a nurse weren’t up to par. Due process for parents? I won’t even bother with that silliness. Yes, this is largely about public workers who are treated differently than those who pay their salaries, and includes firefighters and law enforcement,not to mention a slew of other government workers being protected in ( inappropriate) ways that private workers could not imagine.

          • TheMorrigan replied

            on February 8, 2014 at 6:01 pm

            Doctors have due process rights (physician rights; Medical Practice Act in CA). Governing boards rarely revoke a doctor’s license, though. You would think that doctors would immediately lose their license and patients (clientele) for serious offenses, yet that is not the case. Doctors typically go through peer reviews, judicial reviews(if the doctor challenges the claims), and an appeal process (if it did not go the way the doctor wanted). Big money all around, much more than what it would cost to remove the $100,000 teacher. Like teachers, doctors usually resign if they do not feel that they will win their case. USA Today did a nice piece on this last year. Check out Docfinder to see how your own doctor stands up in your area. You’ll be surprised. Some states are obviously worse than others. Like inner-city schools, doctors are hard to staff at inner-city hospitals. Those with blemishes on their record can be found in private practice and in the inner-cities hospitals.

            Lawyers also have due process rights. Obviously, the firms do not. But the thousands of lawyers who work for the state do. Didn’t know that did you? Check out CASE.

            Nurses, like doctors, get sued all the time. In fact, hospitals take out medical malpractice insurance for that very reason. The very fact that they work with deeply concerned families through troubling times makes for very volatile situations. California has two governing boards that review nurse misconduct. Even private hospitals follow some form of peer review process. The process is similar to that of teachers (administrative review, peer review, and findings proceedings).

            Parents and patients have due process rights as well. You may think it is silly, but your broad claim made it difficult to narrow down what you meant. Because I have sat in on many SPED parent due process hearings, I can tell you that it is not silly. There is usually a lot of money involved as well. Basically, the district doesn’t want to pay for a certain SPED service, and the parents think they should pay for it. Patients also have this right.

            I agree that government employees have more due process “protections” than private sector employees. Government employees, however, must meet a higher standard with regard to state/federal due process clauses. There is a balancing act of interests here for state employees or anyone holding a state license for that matter. This is why doctors, lawyers, nurses, teachers, and any other state license holder receives some form of due process to remove the state license. Any person who loses his or her job can take the grievance to court. I have noticed that this part of the due process section has been conflated with teacher permanent status (see Deasy’s $100,000 claim). But it could easily happen and DOES happen in the private sector as well. See private sector wrongful termination clauses. This is why I mention it here. It also conveniently contradicts your own point about the rest of the world.

            Permanent status teachers get one year for remediation. Most private sector firms also offer remediation for unsatisfactory evaluations. After the first year, if the teacher still receives unsatisfactory reviews a hearing is given only if the teacher fights it. In most cases, teachers do not fight it. They resign. Most principals do not take it as far as the hearings because they simply have not documented their case well enough. Principals who have not documented their case run on the incompetent to overburdened spectrum. If the case is documented, a permanent teacher can be fired by a competent administrator in 2 to 3 years. Incompetent or overburdened administrators can drag the process out beyond 3 years to 5 years. On the few times I fired teachers and went through hearings, it took three years. And by the end of the second year, the teachers found other employment. The third year simply made it official with the school board and the paperwork even though the teachers were no longer employees of the district.

          • ann replied

            on February 10, 2014 at 11:43 am

            There is no federal statute that requires peer review committees to observe due process, which the Supreme Court has defined as (1) giving written notice of the actions contemplated, (2) convening a hearing, (3) allowing both sides to present evidence at the hearing, and (4) having an independent adjudicator (2). Prior to the Health Care Quality Improvement Act of 1986 (HCQIA) (3), the effects of an adverse peer review finding were restricted to the hospital involved. Because the HCQIA mandates the reporting of disciplinary actions of peer review committees to the National Practitioner Data Bank, such a report could harm a physician’s career throughout the nation .

          • TheMorrigan replied

            on February 10, 2014 at 12:23 pm

            Did I state that there was a federal statute?

            Do peer review committees “observe” due process?

          • ann replied

            on February 10, 2014 at 1:34 pm

            They don’t have to according to Federal statute, they just review whatever facts are presented. I believe it is only with regard to public employee “due process” is the job itself considered a “property” claim of the employee. I’m not a lawyer but that sounds crazy to me! You’re darn right private workers have very well developed employment law on their side but it doesn’t protect them if they aren’t able to do the job.

    • Manuel replied

      on February 5, 2014 at 9:38 pm

      “Floyd,” “Floyd,” you gotta drop that 7.5% meme.

      I already showed you that Gallup figured out that the general population takes 6.5% days off for “health reasons” (and way more many days if they have what they consider chronic health conditions). Why do you keep insisting that 7.5% is an abuse of the sick leave privilege?

      BTW, didn’t you tell us that your kid went to the best school in Frisco? So how come it has that problem teacher?

      But that’s beside the point. Let’s suspend disbelief and assume you are being truthful: do you really think that state law that gives due process to teachers has to be done away with it because you were aggrieved by one single teacher? Are you serious?

      I am not a practitioner in the field of mental health, but if you truly feel that way you have a serious problem. I’ve never met anyone who feels that their special circumstances merit that the state change a law that has worked for many years. That just defies common sense and indicates you might need professional help dealing with this sense of entitlement and/or obsession.

  8. Gary Ravani said

    on February 5, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    So, where do the unions spend their money? Obviously, a large part goes to negotiating and servicing contracts for the membership. Some of it goes to lobbying to improve teachers’ working conditions which then become improved student learning conditions. Some of it goes to fighting off billionaire backed initiatives like Prop 32 which could have hobbled union abilities to raise money for all of above–and!–to fund campaigns like Prop 30.

    Even the critics of Prop 30 now have to admit that there have been no caravans of wealthy heading for the border and it has had an undeniably positive effect on the state’s and schools’ budgets. That doesn’t mean there are not very wealthy people in CA who deeply resent the 3% extra in taxes that have to pay to support the school children of the state. In various venues they continue to try and undermine union and teachers’ rights and ability to organize to do positive things for the state’s children, like Prop 30. A teacher without due process rights protections, for example, could be fired, as teachers have in the past, for becoming politically involved with campaigns like Prop 30.

    And, even though it has been said in various ways in this forum, let’s clear up something about unions’ fiduciary duties. If a union member, or any member of the bargaining unit, needs their contract rights enforced, the union, by law, must do that. Otherwise the union can be sued for “lack of fair representation.” It is not a “judgment call”–the union likes or doesn’t like a teacher or believes the teacher is effective or ineffective. In effect, the union does not move to protect individuals, it moves to protect the contract provisions that belong to all employees who are covered by the contract.

  9. Floyd Thursby said

    on February 5, 2014 at 2:04 am

    Yes, the intervenors. CTA/CFT stands in the way of all change, does studies to prove how ineffective anything is but the status quo of telling kids and parents they can’t do much if in poverty and not expecting much of them even though Asians and other immigrants prosper when poor (read the new Amy Chua and husband book coming out this month), and stop anything that changes what we have, a State near the bottom in a nation near the bottom. They even fought to spend hundreds of thousands to stop a measure that would advise San Francisco to let kids have a school close to their home, and won by 153 votes out of 180,000 in stopping it based on telling everyone children would switch schools mid year. And the management at Ed Source does not encourage free speech and has been known to ban critics of the status quo from their events and not return calls for weeks, months, or ever, if you don’t agree with them. They’ll have forums where only those who follow their party line are allowed. So much for free speech and open debate where all sources can be heard from. The Symposium in San Jose, they didn’t allow some people to attend, were dishonest about selling out, and wouldn’t return calls, they do play favorites and encourage some speech over other speech. Gary Ravani, for instance, hasn’t even replied to many facts and clings to maintaining the status quo. This is the reason this lawsuit is needed. The status quo is failing us, and free speech is very limited. Those who put children first do not have equal rights to be heard with the union and their $189 million a year for ads, donations, and lobbyists to call organizations like EdSource and say, don’t allow this opinion to be heard, only let people we rubber stamp write articles on your site, etc. Ed Source is not above the influence of the unions and is not fair. We all know Fox is biased to the far right, but Ed Source is biased for the teacher’s unions. Eventually, critics will even be censored from these debates, then you will read a chorus of people saying how wonderful seniority and tenure are and how if we only spent more money, all our problems would be solved.

    • el replied

      on February 5, 2014 at 9:24 am

      You apparently read a different EdSource than I do. :-)

  10. CarolineSF said

    on February 4, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    Seems like in various forums, people are responding, basically, “Yeah, well, how much are the teachers’ unions spending on PR?” But the lead of this article says the plaintiffs’ “aggressive public relations campaign (is) UNMATCHED BY THE OPPOSING SIDE…” (caps mine.)

    • Ann replied

      on February 4, 2014 at 8:10 pm

      And yet, the writer has no evidence to support his claims since he reports none of the unions spending on this suit. Sending out tweets, sending emails with links doesn’t seem like a very expensive endeavor, in fact I see on twitter that the unions are VERY active. I also see most of the mainstream media outlets have published or given air time to the defendantsrepresented by the unions.

      • Manuel replied

        on February 4, 2014 at 11:14 pm

        Hey, Ann, the writer is the executive director of EdSource. By virtue of his position, Mr. Freedberg is the one who sets the “standards of this publication.”

        Mr. Freedberg chose to point out an important fact: the suit was brought out by one individual with a particular agenda and many resources at his disposal. Why should he include the response of those the lawsuit attacks? EdSource is not Fox News, where everything has to be grotesquely “fair and balanced.”

        Also, if you are going to spread disinformation, please get it right: CTA/CFT are not the defendants. They are intervenors. The defendants are the State of California, the Governor, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the California Department of Education, the State Board of Education, and Oakland USD.

        My mainstream media outlet (the LA Times) published an editorial where they wanted to have it both ways: attack the lawsuit as “a stretch” and attack the teachers and legislators telling that “the change” will be done for them at the ballot box. So much for your accusation that the mainstream media is monolithic on its support of teachers.

        • Ann replied

          on February 5, 2014 at 9:09 am

          notice I said “defendants represented by unions” which is what I meant and is true.

    • Paul Muench replied

      on February 5, 2014 at 12:45 pm

      So two news conferences and an op-ed piece in the Orange County Register. Other than that the “aggressive” campaign seems to consistent of sending e-mails. Did I miss anything? That just doesn’t seem like an aggressive campaign. Just off hand it seems to me that the battle over Proposition 8 created a lot more media attention that this trial.

      I would guess it is very easy to get e-mail addresses for media outlets. I think that media outlets would actively try to make that easy. So one could easily collect 100’s of e-mail addresses in a day. Post the job to the Amazon Mechanical Turk service and you could probably get every relevant e-mail address for cheap. Quickly eliminate all the duplicates in MS Excel. Put all these e-mail addresses in a single distribution list of your favorite e-mail program and then send as many e-mails as you want almost cost free. So I just can’t consider the e-mail part of this program as aggressive, it just seems too simple. If this is an aggressive approach due to its novelty, I’m really surprised that more people are not utilizing it.

  11. Floyd Thursby said

    on February 4, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    Ann is right these comments are ridiculous. I’ve seen the union defend teachers I saw hanging out in cafes on days they called in sick, called in sick on multiple occasions, and the union gets them a job the next year as a long-term sub, which means that a class needs a sub and then gets someone missing time, so a sub of a sub. And they hide the information so if the parents at the other school complain, it’s “a private personnel matter” and they get nowhere, and the union causes this with their rules. They defend teachers every parent doesn’t like as a liberal cause and lied about Prop H in SF which caused it to lose by 0.08%, so parents had to commute 10 hours a week and some left. Every time you defend a teacher who hurts our children, we remember, and we will organize, donate, and vote against you. You think you get away with it, and in the short run you do, but in the long run, you will not. This is why Michelle Rhee is so popular. If these bad teachers weren’t defended by you, you could have seniority for the good or even decent teachers, but when you defend bad ones, you make a terrible mistake. I’ve seen some of the teachers you’ve defended like it was some noble, liberal cause and everyone who opposes the teacher is either violating some obscure rule that is more important than the education of our children, or is part of some right wing conspiracy, and I’m a very liberal Democrat who would raise minimum wage significantly, tax the rich much more than now, slash defense, legalize drugs/gambling/prostitution/all victimless crimes, slash our prison population especially the nonviolent drug offenders, abolish the death penalty, keep abortion legal, and pay for government tutoring of poor kids and scholarships for college, and abolish corporate loopholes. I’m basically a far left Democrat, and I get sick every time a horrible teacher is defended by the union like they’re some wonderful, noble victim. It is really disgusting. Gary Ravani has said nothing about this, because he probably knows he has defended such teachers and acted like it was some great cause.

    Once you’ve seen it happen, you will never be fooled again. Seniority is not a better way to motivate hard work than principal discretion or test score measurement, or attendence. Seniority lets everyone relax, not push. What we need is what is good for our children. We have low class mobility and a huge reason is we care more about teacher’s rights to perform poorly and maintain a guaranteed job than we do about the education of children.

    Imagine if the CTA spent that $189 million paying for one-on-one tutoring and parent education to guarantee the poor Latino and black students in California are up to grade level or spend Saturday catching up, and study 15-25 hours a week Summers and in middle and high school. It would do a lot more good at closing the achievement gap, and income gap.

  12. ann said

    on February 3, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    Oh those poor, poor unions…up against a guy who personally makes a couple million a year? CTA took in $189 million in 2006 alone, tax exempt by the way. From 2003 to 2012 CTA spent $155 million on political campaigns, the majority on initiatives, the rest on Democrats. This conspiratorial screed is beneath the standards of this publication.

  13. Gary Ravani said

    on February 3, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    FYI

    For those interested.

    “The U.S is the only major industrialized nation without a national paid sick-leave policy. Some 145 countries provide paid sick days for short- or long-term illnesses. Japan, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Singapore require employers to provide at least 10 paid sick days.

    The U.S. government guarantees federal employees 13 paid sick days a year.”

    “Going to work ill can be expensive in other ways. The Center for American Progress estimates that unhealthy workers cost employers some $160 billion a year in lost productivity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the annual flu season alone constitutes a $10.5 billion hit to companies in direct costs for hospitalizations and outpatient visits for adults.

    “If workers go in sick, they have the chance of getting others sick and reduce productivity,” said Alice Kassens, an economics professor at Roanoke College. “But many people don’t feel they have the option of staying home to get well.”

    • navigio replied

      on February 3, 2014 at 8:20 pm

      Same for vacation.

  14. Gary Ravani said

    on February 3, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    CFT and CTA are working together to provide for a legal firm to confront the high priced, corporate lawyers carrying water for the tech tycoon, the other billionaires, and the self-styled “reformers.” As far as I am aware there has been no hiring of a PR firm by the unions or the state to specifically deal with Vergara. They have a significant spin advantage as the article points out. And, if you pay attention to what’s really going on in court, once you penetrate the spin, there’s not a whole lot there.

    But, the unions cannot compete with the endlessly deep pockets of those folks. There are other things to do like support teachers’ working conditions, which is another way to say: students’ learning conditions.

    Just to provide some context, in the last election, to deal with the anti-union Prop 32 and the pro-education Prop 30, total union expenditures went to around $60 million. The Mungers, just between the two of them spent around $80 million. Then then was about $12 million more for Prop 32 and against Prop 30 in “dark money.” Very difficult for the “all powerful” unions to compete with mega billionaires and their whims. I will say Molly Munger’s heart was in the right place. Once you look at who was behind the “dark money,” and the other forces against Prop 30 and for Prop 32, you can understand that the unions’ money and intent was for the public interest and pro-child.

    • Paul Muench replied

      on February 3, 2014 at 6:35 pm

      Good to know those numbers. So in comparison to the propositions the money spent on publicity/lawyers for Vergara is small.

      • Gary Ravani replied

        on February 3, 2014 at 7:50 pm

        Like most things, like whether the money being spent on a misguided lawsuit is a “large” or “small” amount, it depends on whose money you’re talking about. For multi-gazillionaire, throwing money at ballot propositions or lawsuits the dollars are, apparently, of negligible importance. For teacher unions, trying to protect their members, their profession, and the public schools from relentless attacks from those whose, whims, ideology, or political agenda are hostile it is of vital importance; however, for teachers’ unions resources are limited but for the multi-gazillionaires they are not.

        Get it?

        • Paul Muench replied

          on February 4, 2014 at 4:38 am

          I know this topic is emotionally charged, but ultimately I’ll need some facts to actually gain perspective. So if you want to inform me on what CFT/CTA can do with $100,000 or $1,000,000, then the money spent on Vergara may then appear large.

          • navigio replied

            on February 4, 2014 at 8:08 am

            Personally I don’t think it’s really possible to understand the extent of the impact money has. There is a good website with information about money donated directly to political campaigns, and obviously the teachers union is the largest or among the largest single donor in CA. However affluent interests when combined are actually much larger. May or may not be relevant.

            I think there is a much larger impact from teacher union behavior that does not show up in contribution values. And that is that they are in the community and at the schools on a daily basis. They give presentations at board meetings and at school meetings and this is particularly the case during election cycles. That kind of effort doesn’t show up in the count of political donations or contributions.

            When it comes to political contributions a lot of that stuff goes directly to making sure certain people are elected into office. That money primarily is used for ad campaigns though some of it’s probably also logistics.

            In Molly Munger’s case, for example, she funded essentially the entire initiative including signature raising advertising etc.

            To me it doesn’t really matter how much people spend, because generally I think the more they spend the more they’re probably lying. I also don’t believe that people with more money should have more say.

            In the end it matters more to me whether what people say is true. One person speaking the truth is more powerful than a hundred million dollars of television commercials. And for the record, pretty much everyone lies in politics.

        • el replied

          on February 4, 2014 at 8:51 am

          Not to mention that the teachers have actual skin in the game.

          I appreciate that people with deep pockets are interested in education and making it better. I wish more of them would start in at the bottom and spend some time listening before they decide how to go about that. Start out by volunteering in a classroom, reading to kids, observing how everyone interacts, getting an awareness of what school is like today (not when we were kids) and getting to know the situation. Volunteer in the afterschool program. Mentor a foster child. Go to the PTA meetings, run for school board, puzzle through the financials and deal with the behind the scenes.

          Anyone doing all that would learn a lot about schools and probably have quite different ideas about what was needed at the end than they started with.

          None of these guys would take in a CEO from say a beverage company and put him in charge of planning the next wave of innovation at their tech company on the first day. Education is its own thing too, and having attended as a student does not make you an expert (just as doing web searches does not make you ready to run a search engine).

    • Floyd Thursby replied

      on February 4, 2014 at 2:36 pm

      Gary what are you talking about? The union has way more money than the other side. Then when someone with money does the moral thing and stands up to the abuse, you complain that they aren’t all poor or middle class. Of course someone with money has to stand up for it to happen, and you know that and are being disingenuous.

      The union just knee-jerk opposes anyone else having any say. In San Francisco in 2011, parents had a grass roots operation, went out and got signatures so kids could go to school close to home, as families were getting assigned 5-6 miles away, in heavy traffic, 30 minute drives away, back and forth, twice a day, 2 hours. This was causing some to go private or move as they just couldn’t get to work and get their kids to school, some lived a block from a good school and couldn’t get in. We had to get over 10,000 signatures to put it on the ballot. The union spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, over half a million, putting out the lie that it would cause children to be switched in January, and we lost by 0.08%. We got 49.96. Clearly the majority favored neighborhood assignment guarantees for new admissions, but they killed it and maintained the status quo and it still happens, and we lose families with options. Also, poor people can’t afford to drive across town, so the families who use it are generally well off families with a parent who doesn’t work, which has made our schools in the East side even more segregated as parents of means avoid schools close to home they would make more integrated.

      The union destroyed the lives of many families, drove them away, all because someone proposed something outside of their control. This issue had nothing to do with teacher rights or salary, they just were threatened because it was outside their control. They told blatant lies about the measure and tricked people who were for neighborhood schools into voting against it. They also have defended many bad teachers. They act like a mafia, and you complain because someone with money is doing the right thing? You don’t even acknowledge many points that are inconvenient. You just try to nitpick. I’m not falling for it, and neither will the voters in November.

  15. Susan Auerbach said

    on February 3, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    Kudos and thanks to Louis Freedberg for his detailed account of Students Matter’s well-funded attempts at media manipulation re: the Vergara lawsuit. I agree that, in fairness, it would be useful to also know the level of CFT/CTA spending on their side of the case. Meanwhile, this situation begs the question of the extent of behind-the-scenes aggressive PR by education advocacy organizations surrounding any number of currently popular reform initiatives. Mainstream media are not investigating this; maybe more attention to this issue by EdSource will spur more coverage.

    • Floyd Thursby replied

      on February 3, 2014 at 4:49 pm

      Coming up with little things to pick at, that they’re rich, as if poor people have the resources to fight for this, won’t change the fact you’ve had 30 or more years people knew bad teachers were staying on, and calling in sick 7.5% of the time vs. 2.5% in business hurting kids and raising substitute costs, and seniority was lowering the work ethic, and have done nothing about it. Whenever someone does, you say we should do it but differently, more funding will solve it.

      I should have known Gary was representing the union. He was so biased. he wouldn’t acknowledge any points contrary to seniority/tenure/due process/LIFO, which is deepling hurting children.

      As a state, we simply have to ask ourselves what is more important, adult job security to blow off reform, call in sick 7.5% of the time, and not give their best and still keep a job, or the education of children and corresponding class mobility and economic productivity.

      Remember, teachers are role models. If they call in sick 7.5% of the time, kids will grow up to think that’s OK if they can get away with it too.

      • Manuel replied

        on February 3, 2014 at 8:30 pm

        As you like to say, “Floyd,” I call bull on your statistic on absenteeism of the white collar work force.

        Since you don’t give sources, I went a-googling. I found that Gallup, hardly a bastion of teacher apologists, conducted a poll of 109,875 full-time workers and asked them how many days they had missed from work due to health issues.

        It turns out that the number of days absent from the job correlates on the chronic health conditions of the respondent (surprise!) as well as her/his body weight. Gallup gives the number of unhealthy days per month for six different groups with varying combinations of factors. Lumping all results into a single one gives an average of 1.4 day/month, for a total of 16.86 days/year. Since the year has 260 working days (and even less if holidays are included), this yields at least a 6.5% absenteeism rate for working Americans.

        Your claim that teachers call in sick 7.5% of the time, a mere one extra percentage point than the national average for working Americans, is not surprising since they are exposed to much more disease than the rest of us. (Yes, those kids they teach are extremely efficient vectors of the flu, both nasal and stomach)

        BTW, who exactly are you referring to when you say “you’ve had 30 or more years … and done nothing about it.” Are you implying, for the nth time, that unions should get rid of bad teachers? You’ve been a parent for at least 10 years (or so you say). Where have you been, “Floyd?”

        As for Mr. Ravani’s affiliations, well, all I can say is that you are not reading for comprehension as the mini-bio at the end of the comment you carpet-bomb is as plain as day: “Gary Ravani taught middle school for more than 30 years in Petaluma. He served for 19 years as president of the Petaluma Federation of Teachers and is currently president of the California Federation of Teachers’ Early Childhood/K-12 Council.”

        • Floyd Thursby replied

          on February 4, 2014 at 2:24 pm

          Right, surely he’s seen bad teachers protected and hurt children, but he stays silent on it and nitpicks at how much wealth somebody has who opposes his point of view or on some clause, rather than the bigger issue of whether seniority best serves children or an adult interest group. Yes, the complaints about bad teachers are over 30 years old, and the union always says it has something in place, but very few are ever fired. It’s just a talking point to try to make us go away. I’ve done what I can, donated to and volunteered for Students First and Students Matter, etc. I’m on the right side at least. Gary is closing his mind to the other side, he just ignored may points I made on his other post.

          • Manuel replied

            on February 4, 2014 at 3:33 pm

            “Floyd,” no, that won’t work. Quit complaining about Mr. Ravani. He identifies himself well and has no need to satisfy your particular hobby. That you are not paying attention is on you.

            Speaking about you, let’s get back to you: you already know that unions, any union, is there to protect its members. In the case of teacher unions, that is their role by law. If the state (i.e., administration, teacher credentialing commission, state board of ed, etc.) doesn’t do its job, it is not the union’s job to do it for them. You are barking at the wrong tree and it is getting really old.

            If you want to talk about closed minds, maybe you should start by opening your own. I have yet to see you address any valid point made to you. All you got is “well, those teachers take too much time off!” or “bad teachers hurt children!” (so do bad parents, but who is going to talk about that?). Is that dialogue? Not in my book.

            As for what you’ve done, those orgs just came down the pike and are creatures of the Billionaire Boys Club. So far you claim to be not one of them but have now joined their bandwagon. Where were you the previous 8 years?

            As for your ability to defend your arguments, I see that you can’t. You have totally ignored the obvious conclusion drawn from the Gallup poll, namely, that your argument about excessive absenteeism among teachers is not relevant at best and bogus at worst. That poll shows that chronic health conditions, which affect over 63% of the sample, are reall killers for productivity, accounting for more than three days off per month. That’s the real problem: poor health in the general population. Not working as a teacher. You gotta quit using (ad nauseum!) talking points you’ve been fed and start thinking for yourself.

            (To all, sorry that the link to the Gallup poll did not show up. Here it is in full: http://www.gallup.com/poll/150026/unhealthy-workers-absenteeism-costs-153-billion.aspx

            Please cut-and-paste it into your browser.)

  16. Charlotte Vrooman said

    on February 3, 2014 at 11:19 am

    I wonder where Casillas and Deasy will go when they “retire” from LAUSD. So many interesting possibilities! May it be sooner rather than later.

    • Manuel replied

      on February 3, 2014 at 9:04 pm

      Casillas actually retired from LAUSD in 1993, with one of her last assignments as the local district superintendent in the San Fernando Valley.

      Incidentally, she has always been a “company woman” as shown in an LA Times article dated May 20, 1989:

      When fourth-grade students at Lankershim Elementary School in North Hollywood were told they were going to watch a movie while their teachers walked the picket line, they probably were unprepared for a horror film about a razor-wielding monkey.

      [...]

      District officials plan to meet next week with school principal Anna McLinn to pursue their investigation, Casillas said. She is not sure how an R-rated movie ended up on an approved list that apparently was put together in advance of the strike.

      “Maybe it was a plant by someone out on strike,” she suggested.

      She left to work in San Diego for some time but came back to run non-profits, some of them with interesting numbers in their 990s. Then gets picked by Deasy to run the Parent and Community Services branch. The first thing she did was disband the Parent Collaborative and District Advisory Councils. She got LAUSD sued over that and I have no idea what the lawsuit status is. She retired again last year and has been replaced by Rowena Lagrosa, formerly also a local district superintendent.

      • Manuel replied

        on February 4, 2014 at 3:35 pm

        Opps. I meant to write “El Paso” and wrote “San Diego” instead.

        Sorry…

  17. Paul Muench said

    on February 3, 2014 at 11:19 am

    I’m all for peeling back the curtains. I can live with only one curtain peeled back, but I will always try to get more. And I am not looking for a slavish dedication to even handedness that leaves me wondering what is really significant. But if I had numbers on what CFT/CTA are spending on this lawsuit then I would have some basis for comparison for which group is mounting the larger overall campaign. I understand this is not a straight forward question as the CFT/CTA also spend additional money on political lobbying. And how to allocate a portion of those dollars to compare against what Student Matters is spending on its media campaign? Not an easy question to answer. And how to compare the effect and intentions of a media campaign vs. the effect and intentions of political lobbying? Not an easy question to answer. But I’m happy to get whatever information that is available.

    • A. L . Warren replied

      on February 3, 2014 at 1:19 pm

      As a former parent, now grandparent of a student attending school in California, I am very interested in the updates regarding this trial. What caught my eye today was Mr. Vogel’s comment “They are trying to turn this into a court of public opinion rather than a court of law”. Seems that is what has been misssing for years -consideration of the public’s opnion. I don’t know Mr. Welch or his intention for bringing this lawsuit. However, I do know California is churning out uneducated, ill-prepared students who one day will decide the public’s quality of life. Whatever the outcome of Vergara vs California, the Genie is out of the bottle.

      • navigio replied

        on February 3, 2014 at 3:06 pm

        Re court of public opinion: not surprising. The courts must make decisions based on logic and the law. On the other hand, voters can simply change the law based on emotion. The latter seems like a much better bet in this case.

      • Gary Ravani replied

        on February 3, 2014 at 5:41 pm

        How true. Those “Ill-prepared” students are infiltrating even our highest levels of education! For example, the UC Policy Committee to Assist Unprepared Students reported that : “we are convinced, by test score trends, basic skills course enrollment trends, and anecdotal evidence, that a decline in the skill level of UC’s entering freshmen has occurred.”

        Kinda makes you want to hide under your scholastic bed doesn’t it? Of, course that statement comes from a report done on 1981, over three decades ago during the “golden age” of education.

        And then there is the report of entering freshman at UC Berkeley, one of the world’s top public universities, who failed to score at the “proficient” level” on a writing skills test. We all know about the terrible rate at which entering college freshmen have to take “remedial” courses today, don’t we? Whoops, that was from a report done in 1898 (yes that’s eighteen).

        Meanwhile, today’s high-schoolers score above the national average on the ACT and SAT. Can I come out from under the bed now?

        (Thanks to Richard Rothstein for the above information.)

        • navigio replied

          on February 3, 2014 at 6:33 pm

          it is apparently time for my periodic suggestion to google ‘nostesia’. except this time maybe i’ll just provide the direct link..

          http://www.jamievollmer.com/nostesia.html
          -

          • Gary Ravani replied

            on February 4, 2014 at 1:04 pm

            navigio:

            What a great site! I have closely followed the late Jerry Bracey and, of course, Richard Rothstein, but Vollmer is new to me. I’ve been missing something.

            After 31 years teaching at middle school this Vollmer quote had me laughing out loud:

            “No one has the right to criticize public education unless he or she has spent a warm, Friday afternoon in May locked in a room with eighth graders. I will go to my grave with that smell in my nostrils.”

          • navigio replied

            on February 4, 2014 at 1:25 pm

            you should buy his book, it is filled with writing like that.

            i want to make clear, i dont necessarily agree with everything that he concludes in his book (in fact, one of my many goals is to write a book in response, at least from the perspective of my own community) but he brings up a lot of great issues, and has a particularly interesting evolution (perspective) into the education sphere.

            but i’ve always found it curious that i never hear about this guy. i’ve yet to understand why.

  18. Paul Muench said

    on February 3, 2014 at 3:51 am

    I read the San Jose Mercury News and the San Francisco Chronicle on a daily basis and the news of the case does not seem impacted by any media blitz. I recall a single story from each paper, which seems a typical level of news coverage for education. I did listen to the KQED forum show about the case and both CTA/CFT and Student Matters lawyers were guests on the show. I’m confident in saying that both lawyers were arguing their cases on KQED. The other news venue I follow is EdSource Today. And Gary Ravani a representative of the CFT has presented arguments against the plaintiffs case in this forum. Whatever is happening behind the scenes does not seem to generate any skew in what the public sees. And as reported in this forum the CTA/CFT requested to join this case as defendents so we know that both organizations are putting their financial resources behind this case. Clearly there are many people that are very interested in the outcome of this case. And in typical American style a lot of money is being spent on important political outcomes. Well, at least outcomes that are perceived to be important.

    • Manuel replied

      on February 3, 2014 at 9:41 am

      Mr. Muench, as you know, Mr. Marcellus McRae, one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers, wrote an earlier commentary for EdSource Today. It is dated November 15, 2013. The comments by readers were the usual measured conversation that normally takes place in these pages.

      I believe that Mr. Ravani’s commentary was a direct response to Mr. McRae’s opinion. The comments there, alas, indicate to me that certain tools of new media manipulation are being deployed. I’ve seen it before elsewhere so it is not too surprising.

      I must commend Mr. Freedberg for parting the curtain and letting us get a glimpse of the Wizard. We have always suspected (known?) that media manipulation plays a role in the shaping of public policy, but what we see in this campaign takes it to a new level. Are we ready to run our public institutions on the whims of a few people?

      OTOH, it could be claimed that this is not new. There is this widely cited statement from John D. Rockefeller:

      In our dreams, we have limitless resources and the people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present education conventions fade from their minds, and unhampered by tradition, we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive rural folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning, or men of science. We have not to raise up from among them authors, editors, poets or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians nor lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen, of whom we have an ample supply…The task we set before ourselves is very simple as well as a very beautiful one, to train these people as we find them to a perfectly ideal life just where they are. So we will organize our children and teach them to do in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way, in the homes, in the shops and on the farm.

      Not much different in spirit than what the Billionaire Boys Club want to do nowadays under a drastically different economy.

      Nothing new under the sun, no?

      Or as Yogi Berra is claimed to have said, it’s deja vu all over again.

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