If you can’t fire a child molester …

California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that was supposed to make it easier to fire teachers charged with molesting students. It would “create new problems,” Brown said in his veto message.

The union-backed bill made it easier for abusive teachers to stall the dismissal process and force districts to settle, charges Larry Sand City Journal. A retired teacher, Sand is president of the California Teachers Empowerment Network.

Mark Berndt, a Los Angeles teacher charged with 23 counts of  “lewd acts” against first-graders, was paid to resign.

Last year, district officials agreed to pay him more than $40,000 to resign in lieu of exercising his “due process rights,” which could have dragged out his termination for months or possibly years—while he continued to collect a salary and accrue pension benefits—through a series of contractually mandated hearings and appeals. This past March, the district announced that it would pay $30 million to the parents of 61 of Berndt’s former students.

In response to the Berndt case, a bill was proposed to let districts suspend teachers credibly charged with abusing students. The state teachers’ unions blocked it.

“The influence of the California Teachers Association was rarely more apparent—or more sickening, editorialized the San Francisco Chronicle. “The union showed its willingness to defend an expensive and cumbersome process for firing bad teachers at almost any cost – even if that means school districts must continue to spend exorbitant sums of time and money to dismiss teachers in cases involving sex, drugs or violence with students.”

About Joanne


  1. Richard Aubrey says:

    Years ago, walking down the street in another town, I saw a sign saying something about FOR THE CHILDREN. “Teachers want a raise,” I told my wife. When we got closer to the sign and could read the small print…I was right.
    Bad optics, and honest teachers are going to have to defend it, I suppose, to their non-teacher friends, or acknowledge the union which is getting them their illursory benefits is filthy dirty.

    • You’re whipping a dead horse, Richard.

      All the artful misdirection aside, unions exist for the sole purpose of extracting as much in the way of benefits for their membership as is possible. If that means running interference for the occasional child molester then they’ll do it.

      When it’s acceptable to admit the unofficial union slogan – “I’ve got mine, screw you” – union members will do so. They understand that unions are about coercive power and it’s only the dreary necessity imposed by living in a representative democracy that requires them to avoid being explicit.

      Belaboring unions for not looking out for the public good is then as pointless as denouncing wolves for killing and eating deer. The nature of wolves is to kill and eat deer and the nature of unions is to twist arms and take as much as possible.

      But unions are creatures of the environment and if the environment changes in a manner unfavorable to the continued existence of unions they’ll disappear like a puff of smoke.

      The environment’s been changing for the worse for unions, in the private sector, for several decades and unions have withered despite they’re best efforts to stem the decline. The same can and perhaps is in the process of happening in edu-sphere.

      • Richard Aubrey says:

        You mistake the horse I whip. My point is that an honest, legitimate teacher is the one on the hot seat.

      • Roger Sweeny says:

        As you recognize, unions exist in a larger environment–and have to play a long-term game. That means not pushing too hard. Call it “enlightened self-interest” or “maximizing long-term member income.”

        To seriously say that unions’ strategy is “I’ve got mine; screw you” is ironically to mirror the lefties who blame all problems on profit-making corporations, who they feel have exactly the same motto.

      • No Richard, I’m just pointing out to you that to the union the guilt or innocence of the teacher’s immaterial.

        Roger, unions may play a long-term game but there’s nothing about unions that makes that a certainty and, in fact, there are more then a few unions who’ve thrown away the long-term relationships for short-term gain and gotten disaster. The recent “Twinkies” debacle comes to mind but there are others.

        That “screw you, I’ve got mine” mentality derives from the understanding by union members that gains achieved under a union contract don’t derive from any increase in value of the employees but from coercion. Arm-twisting.

        Once you accept the spoils of thuggery the only route to “more” is through more thuggery and coercion’s always a zero sum game. The guy who sticks a gun in your ribs, or strikes your plant, is a dollar richer because you’re a dollar poorer.

        What and who lefties blame, for anything, is more a function of expediency then of culpability. Sometimes the self-obsession of lefties reaches comic proportions as in the fight over the Makah Indians hunting whales.

        Lefties opposed to the hunting of noble whales and lefties supporting the sacrosanct traditions of the noble red man to hunt whales. Neither side aware, or capable of being aware, that they’re interchangeable and indistinguishable since both sides, as are all lefties, are motivated by desires no more thoughtful then an infant’s seeking of a nipple.

        • Roger Sweeny says:

          Since we live in a world of ignorance–especially about the future :)–no long-term maximization strategy is ever going to be perfect. For unions or companies or anyone else. Once again, there is a corresponding leftie meme that “the corporations” only care about short-term profit (sometimes specifically “quarterly results”).

          Many workers feel that they contribute more to the value that the organization creates than they are being paid. That’s probably human nature. There’s no reason that should lead to thuggery, any more than a corporate executive’s belief that her organization is providing a good product at a too-low price.

          • Rhetorical sleight of hand isn’t a compelling reason to give credence to those corresponding lefty memes. Unions are third parties to a two-party transaction producing no value and have their exclusive utility in advantaging one party via the use of violence.

            In the past – mostly – union violence was explicit but through the good offices of representative democracy they learned to commit their acts of violence – mostly – within the confines of allowed by law unions helped to write. Unions have been largely domesticated by being forced to live within the confines of the law but their underlying character, the urge to use violence to secure that for which their membership has no legitimate claim, is still there.

            “Many workers feel that they contribute more to the value that the organization creates than they are being paid.”

            Yes, and many people believe that they could solve all the world’s problems if they were king. So what?

            What you believe about your value can’t realistically be considered the factor that defines your value or there’d be no limits on your value. It’s only when someone else makes an estimation of your value, and is willing to back up that estimation with some mutually acceptable medium of exchange, i.e. money, that your value’s established.

            But when one party can use violence or its threat such refined considerations are immaterial.

  2. Richard Aubrey says:

    Missed again.
    My point is, the honest and legitimate teachers are going to be faced with the question….Why does your union support child molesters?
    The teacher will either say, I belong to a dirty, filthy union which the law requires me to do, or the teach will say… um, due process, innocent until proven guilty, how would you like it if [this is a particularly bad line to start], or…what, hadn’t heard.
    Might suggest to the questioner that the legislature and Governor Moonbeam are there on account of the voters and maybe the voters should be PAYING FREAKING ATTENTION.
    Or probably not.

    • Or your honest and legitimate teacher won’t answer at all considering the question too painful to deal with and that doing so – considering the question – might lead to conclusions best left unconsidered if he’d like to hang onto a few tattered remnants of his self-respect.

      As for “we, the people”, you’ve hit on the central shortcoming of representative forms of government. Sadly, there’s nothing better so you might want to consider coming to terms with that shortcoming of which you – and I – constitute a part.

      • Richard Aubrey says:

        Mencken, I think it was, said something like the American people get what they voted for and they deserve to get it good and hard.
        Talked to some conservatives whose health insurance situation requires them to partake in the new regime. They’re getting good and hard what others deserve to get, and they don’t deserve it. Will be hosting an Obama voter–also a relative–later this week and will be at pains not to gloat too loudly when she expresses surprise that her health insurance rates are going up. But what is moral courage and iron self-discipline for if not to be a major buzzkill?

        • Mencken was a schmuck.

          Like all cynics he self-administered an intelligence test – cynicism – and it told him what he both needed to know and already knew. That he was brilliant.

          Of course we deserve to get good and hard what we voted for. Who else ought to?

          The brilliance of a representative form of government is that authority and responsibility reside in the same entity – we, the people. If we make the decisions we ought to suffer the consequences and we do which is why, given enough time to mull over a decision made in haste we do the right thing. That’s part of the reason unions are dying.

          Typically, foreign competition results in unions running to the government for protection. They did and we listened and it cost us a couple of industries. Finally, when the unions came running to the government for protection of the automobile industry from foreign competition the cupboard was bare.

          Yeah, they got something but that’s the nature of politics. Still, the unions didn’t get anywhere near the level of protection they sought. We’d learned that unions protect their members at the expense of non-members. The steel workers got their steel tariffs and American car and appliance buyers paid the price.

          Now something similar is happening to government unions and I’m very gratified to be alive to witness the repudiation of labor unions specifically and the larger, albeit less obvious, repudiation of special privileges for special people.

          Have fun belaboring your lefty relative but there’s not all that much in the way of entertainment value in doing so and of course nothing you can say will cause your relative to rethink their views. And, lefties aren’t as much fun as cynics who at least have a sense of humor.

          • Richard Aubrey says:

            I’m going to try not to belabor my lefty relative. I think a pointed silence will be just as satisfactory.