To those who won a lawsuit in Los Angeles on Tuesday “declaring all sorts of job protections for teachers ‘unconstitutional,’ ” teachers unions are at the center of the California school system’s problems, Michael Hiltzik writes at the Los Angeles Times.

He continues:

Not the imbalance of financial resources between rich districts and poor. Not the social pathologies–poverty, joblessness, racial discrimination, violence–that affect educational attainment in disadvantaged communities. 

Not California’s rank at the very bottom of all states in its per-pupil expenditures, at $8,342 (in 2011), according to the quality index published by EducationWeek. That’s 30% below the national average of $11,864, reflecting the consistent shortchanging of the K-12 system by the state.

But California ranks much higher compared with other states in measures of teacher incentives and working conditions, so clearly those are the factors that need to be changed.

Students Matter, the organization that financed the lawsuit, Vergara v. California, “has done nothing that will put a needed book or computer in a school,” says David B. Cohen, a schoolteacher and associate director of Accomplished California Teachers. “Not one wifi hotspot. Not one more librarian, nurse, or counselor. Not one more paintbrush or musical instrument. Not one hour of instructional aide support for students or professional development for teachers. They don’t have any apparent interest in the more glaring inadequacies that their considerable wealth and PR savvy could help.”

Cohen is “suspicious of wealthy and powerful individuals and groups whose advocacy for children leads to ‘reforms’ that won’t cost a cent, but will weaken labor.”

Read more here.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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