Sonoma County Teachers Strike Over but Underlying Issues Unresolved

On March 7, members of the union representing teachers in the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District voted to strike. It began on March 10 and by March 17 it was over. What happened?

At first, prospects for a resolution to the strike were not encouraging. On March 9 they claimed the district could not possibly afford to issue the raises demanded by the union, particularly if those raises were extended beyond the credentialed teachers to all of the district’s employees in all the bargaining units. Then on March 17 they announced the strike was resolved. The compromise was to grant the cost of living increases in six month increments over the next three years, instead of granting the entire increase at the beginning of each year. This compromise saved enough money for the district to come to an agreement with the union.

But compromise or not, determining whether or not Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District could afford the concessions they made is not easy. Deciphering the financial statements of a public agency is nearly a fool’s errand, because they are not required to engage in accrual based double entry bookkeeping. The elegant symmetry of general ledger accounting as practiced in the private sector still allows for creative accounting, but because the balance sheet and the income statement are connected algebraically, any thorough audit of the balance sheet will turn up irregularities.

By contrast, take a look at this unaudited financial statement for Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District’s […] Read More

Let the Children Vote – Prop. 18 Lowers Voting Age

What else do we know about this population 18 to 24? They are stupid. That is why we put them in dormitories. And they have a resident assistant. They make really bad decisions. – Kamala Harris, excerpt from speech to Ford Foundation, 2014

If only Kamala Harris, and like-minded proponents of California’s Prop. 18, had the courage of these convictions. Kamala Harris may have been sincere, but political objectives often override common sense. Prop. 18, which will permit anyone who turns 18 by the next general election to vote in special elections or primaries prior to that general election, is a nakedly partisan ballot proposition. It is based on the fact that California’s youth are even more likely to lean Democrat than California’s adult voters, and is therefore calculated to pad Democratic voter registration in order to swing what few battleground districts remain in deep blue California.

Statistics are readily available to prove this assertion. For starters, view the results so far of the “pre-registration” campaign targeting 16 and 17 year olds, initiated by Secretary of State Alex Padilla, a Democrat. The program, initiated in 2016, started out slowly, with only 90,000 teens pre-registered as of March 2018. But by September 2018 that number was up to 200,000, and a year later, it passed 400,000. In time for the March 2020 primaries, as Padilla’s office triumphantly disclosed in a February 6, 2020 press release, it passed 500,000. The party preferences among these pre-registrants skew sharply […] Read More

Why Are Public Safety Unions Supporting Teachers Unions?

During the Los Angeles teachers strike earlier this year, an article in the ultra-left publication The Nation offered an excellent glimpse into the mentality of strikers and their supporters. The article begins by describing a scene in front of an LAUSD middle school on day three of the strike. A truck driver has arrived to make a delivery to the school, and the picket line won’t budge. Police have been called.

What happens next? According to The Nation, “The line holds. The police don’t make good on their threats to cite or arrest teachers, and the truck and police cars drive off. One of the officers even gets on his radio before he leaves and says, ‘Don’t let them come between us. We support you!’”

It would take an expert to determine whether this conduct falls within the boundaries of normal police discretion or constitutes a minor act of civil disobedience in solidarity with the strikers, but it doesn’t take an expert to determine whose side this officer was on. “We support you.”

Police, along with the firefighters who on January 19th actually marched by the hundreds through downtown Los Angeles to support the teachers strike, can be applauded for wanting to support teachers and students. They can be applauded for doing what they think is right, especially if they think they are helping the next generation of Americans get a quality public education. But what if everything the teachers union is trying to do is wrong?

For […] Read More

Resistance is NOT Futile

The union assault on charter schools in California has intensified, but resistance is not futile. Parents, students, conscientious teachers, lawmakers and concerned citizens are stepping up. There are many ways to fight for charter schools, which represent one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal performance by California’s K-12 system of public education.

In an April 2019 report in the respected website CalMatters entitled “Charter-mageddon: Lawmakers advance a raft of union-backed charter school curbs,” the ongoing battle between charter school advocates and their foes is updated as follows: “While the two sides have battled for decades—typically to a draw—the political momentum has shifted in favor of organized labor this session.”

This is an understatement. On April 4th, three charter-killer bills cleared the State Assembly’s Education Committee, and all of them have a good chance of moving on to the Governor’s desk, where Gavin Newsom is considered far more likely to sign them than former Gov. Brown would have been. These bills, as reported in CalMatters, “would give local school districts the sole power to authorize charter schools [AB 1505], create state and local caps on the number of charters allowed to operate [AB 1506], and put strict limits on charter school locations [AB 1507].”

A March 2019 report, written by Larry Sand and published by the California Policy Center, entitled “Chartercide in California,” not only discusses how the teachers unions are attacking charters, but also relates how charter schools are delivering dramatically better […] Read More