Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Oakland Teachers Union Plans Theater of the Absurd

I was discouraged, but not surprised, to see this article indicating that the Oakland Teachers Union still appears to have little interest in helping solve the problems at the Oakland School District.

OEA president Betty Olsen-Jones* set the tone by indicating flatly that the teachers are making "unreasonable" demands. Great.

They went on to complain about Eli Broad, who admittedly has apparently played some sort of spooky/shadowy role in the state control over the Oakland School District. I have no problem with the suggestion that control of the schools should be handled locally. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear to me that anyone in the city government or in the unions is actually interested in doing anything that would meaningfully improve the situation.

The union predictably wants more money and smaller class sizes. I actually don't even have a problem with this. I mean, you can't expect a group of people not to campaign in favor of increases in their own wages. The main issues I have with their position are the following:

  • I would prefer the OEA not pretend it aims to improve actual education in Oakland. Anyone who's looked seriously at the problem knows that we need to look at more far-reaching solutions such as magnet schools, vouchers and vocational training for those who can't cut it in the regular classroom. The OEA doesn't support reforms like these because they don't meet their only real objectives: increased wages and avoiding layoffs.

  • I have a problem with public servants participating in political campaigns to raise their own wages. This goes for teachers, firemen, policemen, etc. The state and many localities are facing impending disaster because of unreasonable benefits packages for these folks. I blame this partly on misuse of the proposition/initiative system, though there's plenty of blame to go around. This also highlights a key problem with Leftist campaign finance arguments. They always seek to block corporate donations while allowing unions unlimited donations.

  • At the OEA rally, people held up a banner reading "Corporate Oakland Pay Your Share." I'm sorry, did Oakland suddenly get a meaningful business district while I wasn't watching? The last thing we need to be doing is demonizing businesses. This city needs jobs, and this city needs to compete with the likes of Emeryville. It's time to stop demonizing whatever corporations we do have and start thanking them for their willingness to stick it out.

A final point/question. Does anyone know how much money taxpayers will wind up having to pay to make up the loan currently outstanding to the state from the school district? I've been waiting for that property tax measure for some time. I'm sure it'll be a whopper.

* By the way, am I the only one who has noticed that some of the worst culprits behind the East Bay Leftist agenda have hyphenated names? What's the deal with that?

1 comment:

  1. Great post and it's nice to have another sane voice out there--it's easy to forget they exist. On your previous post, I disagree about the recall of Dellums, but don't have time for that now. But about OUD, you're dead on. If they were serious about education we'd have an academic high school (a la Lowell in SF) to keep the well off parents from draining their trust funds into Head-Royce and College Prep and FTEs from the school district, as well as give those in the poorer areas a goal that could be achieved if they worked hard. We'd then start seriously looking at the mentality that's creeping into education that it's either college or nothing for our students--a truly bizarre notion given that skilled trades jobs are literally going begging and pay frequently up to six figures! Of course that would mean fewer undereducated Liberal Studies, Education and Ethnic Studies majors to form the cadre for the coming revolution, so I wouldn't count on a lot of support from the educratic community. Keep up the good work.