Delegates at the California Democratic Party convention overwhelmingly passed a resolution blasting Democrats who support school reform as fronts for Republicans and corporate interests, reports the Los Angeles Times.
“People can call themselves Democrats for Education Reform — it’s a free country — but if your agenda is to shut teachers and school employees out of the political process and not lift a finger to prevent cuts in education, in my book you’re not a reformer, you’re not helping education, and you’re sure not much of a Democrat,” said state Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, a registered Democrat whose office is nonpartisan.
California Teachers Association President Dean Vogel said reformers are working to eliminate workers’ rights and “hellbent on turning students into test-taking machines.”
“I’ll tell you right now, they want to do that, they have to come through us,” Vogel said.
“Let’s be perfectly clear,” he added. “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.”
Gloria Romero, a former Democratic majority leader in the state Senate who leads the California chapter of Democrats for Education Reform, called the Sunday resolution “stupid.”
“They drank some Kool-Aid that has been fresh squeezed for them by the most powerful political interest in California, the California Teachers Assn.,” she said, adding that improving schools for minorities and the poor should be a priority for the party.
“They beat their chest,” she continued, “they get some money into their campaign coffers, but they walk away having abandoned the call for quality education for children of color.”
Reformers have the momentum, argues Walter Russell Mead. “The Democratic politicians and donors pushing for such reforms seem to have weighed the costs to unionized teachers and decided that they are worth the benefits to students.”
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa fielded a reform slate in the recent school board elections with mixed results.