Monday, April 15, 2013

Ca. Democratic Party criticizes Rhee, Romero, Students First, and dubious school reform

Much of the fiery rhetoric during Sunday's general session was focused on StudentsFirst, the education policy advocacy group founded by Michelle Rhee, and Democrats for Education Reform, which has backing from former Democratic state Sen. Gloria Romero.
"They sound like good names, but let's be perfectly clear. These organizations are backed by moneyed interests, Republican operatives and out-of-state Wall Street billionaires dedicated to school privatization and trampling on teacher and worker rights," California Teachers Association President Dean Vogel told delegates Sunday. "And we're not going to stand for that."
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson criticized the same groups by name, saying they do not "lift a finger to prevent the cuts to education."
"In my book, you're not a reformer, you're not helping education and you're sure not much of a Democrat," he said.
StudentsFirst and the CTA have clashed in the Capitol and on the campaign trail in the last year. The nonprofit poured $2 million into an independent expenditure committee last year that was used to back several state legislative candidates, including a Democrat and former charter school executive who lost to another Democrat backed by the CTA in a very costly Southern California Assembly race.

A resolution approved by voice vote accuses the group of "supporting candidates and local programs that wold dismantle a free public education for every student in California and replace it with company run charter schools, non-credentialed teachers and unproven untested so-called 'reforms.'"
StudentsFirst responded with a statement saying the group "believes strongly that fixing our brokeneducation system should be an issue that people in both political parties can agree on."
"The heated rhetoric coming out of the California Democratic Party convention today is especially disappointing because it reveals an abject refusal to tackle the most important issue: ensuring that every California student goes to a great school and has a great teacher," Jessica Ng, a regional spokeswoman with StudentsFirst, said in the statement.

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