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Posted at 11:19 AM ET, 11/ 4/2010

Some good news for California teachers

By Valerie Strauss

Public schools teachers in California got some good news from the midterm elections: Their candidate won in the race for state Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The superintendent is California’s top educator, charged with providing policy and direction to local school districts and serving on the governing boards of the state’s higher education systems.

In the primary election, the highest-profile candidate, state Sen. Gloria Romero, was backed by the charter school industry but she was knocked out of the running. She ungraciously posted the following on her Web site:

“The victors in the race for superintendent of public instruction were two different wings of the same status-quo education establishment. The interests of the reform community ... lost.” The statement complained about “an education morass which remains complacent with failure,” an obvious jab at teachers.

The general election contest was between Larry Aceves and Tom Torlakson. Aceves is a former teacher, principal and county superintendent who called for equitable funding. He changed his registration from Democrat to Independent.

Torlakson, a veteran state assembly member and former teacher, was the pro-teacher candidate, supported by the California Federation of Teachers. He often carried education historian Diane Ravitch’s "The Death and Life of the Great American School System” around with him. The book is a sharp critique of No Child Left Behind, charter schools and business-driven school reforms favored by the Obama administration.

Most of the newspapers seemed to be endorsing Aceves, but the Democrat Torlakson won, nearly 55 percent to 45 percent.

Meanwhile, it was just announced that Gloria Romero has been hired by the pro-charter organization Democrats for Education Reform. It will be her job to give the group a presence in every large California city.

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By Valerie Strauss  | November 4, 2010; 11:19 AM ET
Categories:  Teachers  | Tags:  california, california teachers, cft, charter schools, dfer, diane ravitch, gloria romero, state superintendent, tom torlakson  
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"Reformers" keep blaming "the unions" for our educational problems, but the average citizen knows that it is "Miss Smith" and not Gloria Romero who is in the classroom with the children during the week and at Teachers' Supplies on Saturdays, buying books and supplies with her own money. Teachers and their unions are not the problem, but rather citizens who harbor contempt for them and for the young children who take a big bite out of our taxes.

People like Romero don't realize (or probably don't care) the damage that they are doing to education. While the effects of the recession are still with us, there is another phenomenon going on that is barely recognized or written about. At the present time, thousands of Baby Boomer teachers are retiring and many more will retire during the next ten years. The previously captive young women are flocking to all kinds of fields and the absent men are even more absent. Personally I know of only one young woman who is interested in teaching, but according to her mother "Kirsten knows to stay away from K-12; her goal is the community college."

As for districts like DC, just give it a few years. People will remember. "As goes California...So goes the nation."

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | November 4, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

“The victors in the race for superintendent of public instruction were two different wings of the same status-quo education establishment. The interests of the reform community ... lost.”

When one talks of the education reform community, think of the October Revolution.

Posted by: edlharris | November 4, 2010 11:16 PM | Report abuse

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