Union blocks bill on firing ‘predator’ teachers

Awaiting trial for sexual abusing fifth-grade students, a Los Angeles teacher was paid $40,000 to take early retirement. A bill to make it easier and faster to fire teachers for crimes involving sex, drugs or violence stalled after the teachers’ union came out against it. Assembly Democrats receiving heavy teachers’ union contributions abstained in a committee vote, the equivalent of  “no” without the accountability, reports Anderson Cooper.

Here’s the Los Angeles Times on teachers’ union clout in California.

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  1. Richard Aubrey says:

    Is that before the trial? After conviction? If the guy’s convicted, does the school keep paying him while he’s in jail?
    Not clear.

    • The emphasis of the story was on the union’s successful effort to quash the bill that would’ve made it much easier to fire Burnt. As the story makes clear, he would have continued to draw a salary and be covered by benefits until the appeals process was exhausted.

      Whether the school board would have to continue paying him if he won the employment appeal process but got convicted of the crime is an interesting question.

  2. There are very few actual facts presented in the video, other than from the Maplight website. The problem is every politician receives money from groups. The spokesperson from DFER presented not one single fact but was full of opinions she was quite willing to share.

    The actual wording of the bill is never given, so we can’t know for sure what was in it, or what amendments had been tacked onto it.

    The teacher involved was paid off by the school district he worked for. The union was not involved.

    No sexual predator should be allowed to stay in the classroom. EVERY one of them should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

    • Oh, there were plenty of facts, actual and whatever the alternative might be, and it’s CNN that aired the story. If you don’t like their sourcing then find a union web site that covered the story. If any did.

      As for the bill, perhaps you could stir yourself to some modest effort if your desire to have the information spoon-fed to you isn’t met – http://www.aroundthecapitol.com/Bills/SB_1530/20112012/

      Since DFER – that would be Democrats for Education Reform – is a political interest group I think they can be forgiven for representing their point of view. Promoting the views of the membership is the reason for the existence of the organization. The Democrats for the Education Status Quo had endless opportunities to respond but chose not to. You do recall the almost comical scenes where the reporter’s chasing the elected representative down the hall while Assemblywoman Carter steadfastly refuses to make any sort of response.

      Oh, and the union was involved. They informed Mark Burnt that they would offer no more then the barest requirement of the contract in defense of his job and that if he had a lick of sense he’d take the offer from the school board because, having put union officials in an uncomfortable position, he’d better not expect too much in the way of help.

      • I added a link to the bill’s text. The big change is that the administrative law judge’s ruling would be advisory: The school board would have the responsibility to fire the teacher.

  3. So, let’s ask Ms. Romero where she gets her funding from. Also, why has no one affiliated with “Students First” ever responded to the well documented physical abuse of students by that founder Michelle Rhee, who laughed when she retold the story about taping the mouth of students whose lips bled when the tape was torn off?

    The incident in LA had nothing to do with teachers and their union and everything to do with administrators NOT doing their job. Think about – this teacher was so comfortable in his classroom and knew that he could get away with committing horrendous acts upon children. Where was his administrator? His colleagues were teaching and his administrator obviously never visited a classroom.

    • The other thing that makes it a little dicey for Students First to portray teachers as a bunch of sex perverts is that Michelle Rhee’s husband has been accused of sexual misconduct with minors in connection with the charter school operation he runs in Sacramento. Rhee et al. have determined that swift-boating is a sound education-reform strategy.

    • A pretty pair you two are. Either of you remember what the purpose of the public education system’s supposed to be? That is why we grant adults access to children outside the direct supervision and protection of their parents.

      You two going to give them – you know, the kids – any thought or are so deeply immersed in your ideological necessities that you’ve forgotten them as you rush to the defense of the adults into whose care these children are delivered?

      Never mind. Chalk the question up to the victory of hope over experience.

      • And, you Allen, obviously missed the point.

        The administrator failed to do his/her job. NO teacher should ever feel so comfortable in their classroom that they can get away with the horrific abuse of children. The fact that he never feared getting caught in his classroom is proof positive that the administrator failed miserably in his/her job. Where is the outrage for that administrator – who by the way is an at-will employee and should have been routinely visiting classrooms. The Administration failed miserably in this. The fact that you can see belies your own self-interest.

        • And you,ms_teacher, are obviously trying to deflect from the point.

          It shouldn’t require a criminal conviction or an act of Congress to separate anyone from the job they’ve been hired to do. A job isn’t property to which you have a right but a task to be done according to the requirements of the organization that’s seeing to it your pay check doesn’t bounce. Of course that presupposes that the organization values the work being done by the employee which the public education system, in the case of teachers, doesn’t.

          That’s why this bum could get away with his heinous activities. Not because the the administrator failed to do their job in keeping an eye on the teacher but because the teacher was doing his job in not giving the administrator any reason to look in on him. You see, a teacher’s job isn’t teach kids although if that occurs no one’s likely to get too upset. No, a teacher’s job is to make their superior’s life tranquil and not attract undue attention.

          As long as Burnt kept his behavior from intruding on his superior’s equanimity he was doing his job. So why bother with a teacher who’s not causing a ruckus when there are teachers who *are* causing a ruckus?

          • I seriously hope that you are joking with your statement above. If not, then your opinion on educational issues counts for naught.

          • Well, you can hope in one hand…

            You know I’m not joking so you’re limited in the responses you can make. Since you clearly have no desire to engage on the matter scampering off is clearly your best option.

            As for the value of my opinion, the collapse of public faith in the public education system and the professionals employed therein is proof aplenty that my opinions on educational issues counts for rather more then naught.

      • Oh they gave consideration all right, to the kids exposed to Rhee’s husband who committed inappropriate behavior with students, and funds, and received no consequences at all because of his political connections.


        In this case the rich and powerful, those out to destroy public education and rid the US of teachers, protected one of their own.

        • From the “about” page on rokdrop.com:

          “This site features the personal opinions of the authors that contribute here.”

          It isn’t entirely clear though what your complaint is.

          Are you unhappy that all teachers aren’t accorded the deference you claim has been accorded Mr. Johnson or are you upset that Mr. Johnson’s gotten better treatment then a teacher similarly accused?

      • As everyone knows, Allen, public schools were created as a “works project” to provide jobs for adults, some of whom have secured teaching licensure.

        • Yes, and teachers are such splendid creatures they shouldn’t have to besmirch themselves with such base considerations as pay and benefits. Society should heap honors on each and every teacherly head and parents should kiss the ground upon which their sandaled feet tread.

          On the other hand, would you like the names of a couple of school districts that, based on the educations the kids get, can’t be anything but a works project for adults some of whom have secured a teaching license?

  4. It’s not just the (sexual) predators or the physical abusers (and I don’t consider my ES teachers’ judicious application of ruler to hand abuse-exceptions exist). There are also those who verbally abuse kids, like the (academically incompetent) “science” teacher my son had in MS – in a top-rated school in a top-rated area of a top-rated district. She routinely screamed at them, called them names and said she hoped they’d all die – documentation (both of the abuse and the incompetence) had begun within weeks of her arrival the previous year (a teammate had had her), but she was still there when my DD arrived two years later (fortunately didn’t have her). Given her usual volume, everyone in her hall heard her. She also had kids get sick in class, wet pants in class and have feminine-hygiene accidents in class because she wouldn’t allow kids to leave for any reason. (abuse of such excuses wasn’t a big issue in the school) The county admin was EXCEEDINGLY uneager to pursue removal of a minority female science teacher. She definitely damaged the school’s reputation.

    • Oh, great. If you ever need evidence for why teachers need protection, here it is. “My kid’s teacher is meeeeeeean!”

      • You have an interesting definition of “mean”, if you consider it acceptable for a teacher to tell kids she hates them and wishes they’d all die. By the time my DS left her class, there were two years of documentation of repeated variations on that theme, among multitudinous other incidents.

    • Curious as to why you didn’t ask the administrator why they weren’t moving to remove her from the classroom.

      Ahhh, I forgot, that we must always, always blame the teachers union for absolutely everything . . .

      • The explanation was in the last sentence; “minority female science teacher” – MoCo has been playing the diversity game for a long time.The principal started trying to get rid of her almost immediately, but the county admin would do nothing. At least 15 years ago, I remember reading that the average cost to the district of firing a teacher was over $600k – and large chunks of that were due to the various procedures, appeals etc. mandated by the union contract. In this case, the cost would almost certainly be higher, because the various diversity outfits would start screaming about discrimination and make legal challenges – particularly since she was teaching in a primarily white/Asian school. I wouldn’t bet against the fact that she’s still teaching somewhere in the district ; it’s called the Dance of the Lemons – easy to do in a large district.

        Fortunately, my DS and a number of others in her classes, simply discounted everything she said; on the grounds that she didn’t know what she was talking about, subject-wise, and that she was emotionally unbalanced (at best).