We Don’t Need No Education

In a major victory for teachers unions in California, the state Supreme Court has upheld teacher tenure laws.

The predictable end of a garbage opinion. Also predictable that the media couldn’t see fit to interrupt the Trump dumpster fire coverage for one minute to note it. Public education just doesn’t rate to them unless it’s connected to the “sexy” cause of Bloombergian education reform.

It wasn’t so long ago that “education reform” was taking over the Democratic Party. Now it already feels passe. Michelle Rhee is a marginal presence, Arne Duncan is history, Barack Obama is on his way out and many of the elected politicians who embraced it most enthusiastically are retired, voluntarily or not (George Miller, Pat Quinn), or severely damaged (Rahm Emmanuel, Andrew Cuomo).

how are you going to turn public schools into engines of social mobility by eliminating one of the few real benefits that the teaching profession has?

How are you going to draw smart, creative people into a profession that requires postgraduate education by paying them less than they could earn with the same amount of education and constricting their ability to teach via onerous testing regimens and, to some degree, Common Core?

you can see the appeal for wealthy people who would rather sign a check to Students First than pay more in taxes.

In the end, it didn’t amount to much more than bullying teachers, and post-Scott Walker that got old fast.

Let’s hope that this decision means the page is turning on that era.

 We Don’t Need No Education

So this happened:

In a major victory for teachers unions in California, the state Supreme Court has upheld teacher tenure laws. By a 4-3 vote, a divided court decided not to hear Vergara vs. California, a case challenging state tenure laws.

That case, brought on behalf of several public school students in Southern California, was backed by a nonprofit group calling itself Students Matter, founded by Silicon Valley entrepreneur David Welch. The group opposed teacher tenure, arguing that it disproportionately harms poor and minority students.

The predictable end of a garbage opinion. Also predictable that the media couldn’t see fit to interrupt the Trump dumpster fire coverage for one minute to note it. Public education just doesn’t rate to them unless it’s connected to the “sexy” cause of Bloombergian education reform. I do get that “Teacher Tenure Struck Down” is a bigger story than “Teacher Tenure Upheld” because dog bites man, you know, but it does show just how odd the media’s coverage of legal issues is. We saw this too whenever some district court judge ruled against the Affordable Care Act with headlines the size of The Onion‘s parody of WWII.

They don’t, however, provide such splashy headlines when a bill is voted out of a Congressional committee, because it’s obvious that doesn’t mean it’s going to become law. And yet, any wacky lower court ruling gets treated as though it’s established and done throughout the land. Certainly not the biggest issue when it comes to media criticism–not as big as, you know, the absolute rejection of empiricism when it comes to how it covers partisan politics–but definitely a valid one.

Also, this is sort of a blast from the past in a way. It wasn’t so long ago that “education reform” was taking over the Democratic Party. Now it already feels passe. Michelle Rhee is a marginal presence, Arne Duncan is history, Barack Obama is on his way out and many of the elected politicians who embraced it most enthusiastically are retired, voluntarily or not (George Miller, Pat Quinn), or severely damaged (Rahm Emmanuel, Andrew Cuomo). Which is not to say that the work of education reform is done, or that tenure is not a problematic concept.

But that whole thing had too many conceptual problems:

  • How are you going to turn public schools into engines of social mobility by eliminating one of the few real benefits that the teaching profession has?
  • How are you going to draw smart, creative people into a profession that requires postgraduate education by paying them less than they could earn with the same amount of education and constricting their ability to teach via onerous testing regimens and, to some degree, Common Core?
  • Is it even possible to use schools as an egalitarian substitute for redistribution, a replacement for more progressive taxation, a strong safety net and good jobs? (Chris Hayes effectively argues that it’s not in Twilight Of The Elites, one of our age’s seminal books, but you can see the appeal for wealthy people who would rather sign a check to Students First than pay more in taxes.)

In the end, it didn’t amount to much more than bullying teachers, and post-Scott Walker that got old fast. Let’s hope that this decision means the page is turning on that era.

In a major victory for teachers unions in California, the state Supreme Court has upheld teacher tenure laws. By a 4-3 vote, a divided court decided not to hear Vergara vs. California, a case challenging state tenure laws.

 

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