State Sen. Alex Padilla of Los Angeles had every reason to hope that the 11 members of the obscure but powerful state Assembly Education Committee in Sacramento would back his new legislation, Senate Bill 1530, designed to let public schools more easily fire teachers who commit sexual, physically abusive or drug-related acts with their students...Sick and disgusting--brought to you by the special interest that holds the California legislature in its fist.
But in late June, Democratic legislators from six Southern and Northern California communities killed Padilla's bill. Two Democrats voted no on SB 1530 — Tom Ammiano of San Francisco and Joan Buchanan of Alamo. And four Democrats, including Betsy Butler of Los Angeles and Mike Eng of Monterey Park, refused to vote at all, knowing their abstentions would assure that SB 1530 failed by a single vote — and that their non-votes would go largely under the radar. (The other two abstaining Democrats were Wilmer Amina Carter of Rialto and Das Williams of Santa Barbara)...
Education reformers say that Butler, Eng and the other abstainers were motivated by their fear of the California Teachers Association, an extremely wealthy, aggressive union that has launched — and ruined — numerous Democrats' careers in California.
CTA president Dean Vogel insisted to L.A. Weekly that SB 1530 wasn't about keeping children safe but was merely a "highly charged political reaction" to the Berndt scandal — and nothing less than a "recipe for disaster" for the due-process rights of teachers.
"The bill changed the way we go about teacher dismissal, and it takes away an independent panel," Vogel insists, referring to the controversial Commission on Professional Competence. He repeated CTA's decades-long view that existing law is sufficient to remove a sexually or physically abusive teacher.
Echoing Vogel, Butler said Padilla's bill made the teacher-firing process "more political" and "jeopardized due process."
But ex-state Sen. Gloria Romero, a Democrat who was the Legislature's expert on education during her years in Sacramento and now is state director of Democrats for Education Reform in California, says the Berndt scandal "should have been the final wake-up call" for Democratic legislators to support Padilla's bill, which she describes as "very moderate."
Explains Romero, "It was a narrowly crafted bill. There's always a concern about due process, but those things could have been worked out."
CTA always likes to say that "children are our special interest"--which I've always thought was wrong on several levels, but it's what they say. So I ask you CTA u-bots out there: how are children served by killing this bill? I await your pretzel-twisting.