Democrats split on trigger, teachers

Who speaks for Democrats on education? asks Gadfly. Won’t Back Down, Hollywood’s positive take on the parent trigger movement, was shown at a theater near the convention site with the blessing of the White House, despite opposition by teachers’ union leaders.

DNC delegates who attended passed parents and teachers who picketed outside on their way to listening to uber-reformer Michelle Rhee discuss the movie inside.

. . . As Rhee pointed out, “There is no longer sort of this assumed alliance between the Democratic Party and the teachers unions.”

Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel, President Obama’s former chief-of-staff, faces a Chicago Teachers Union strike next week.

The alliance between the teachers’ unions and the Democratic Party is “fraying,” opines the LA Times.

The money is gone

My niece is getting “enriched” at her southern California school for the third day: Her Capistrano Unified teachers are on strike.

More than 2,000 teachers began striking on Thursday to protest a 10% pay cut that was imposed by the district to help close a $34-million budget shortfall.

Education funding isn’t going to rebound, writes Mike Petrilli, who’s taking flak for TV interviews in which he said, “The money is gone and it’s not coming back anytime soon.”

With a deep recession and a burst housing bubble (and thus deflated property values, and property tax revenue), the outlook for 2011-12 is even worse than for 2010. Districts are facing real spending cuts for the first time in decades. And once we get past the current challenges, our schools will be facing stiff competition for public funds from the retirement expenses of the baby boomers. The era of big spending in education is over.

Adjusted for inflation, per pupil spending doubled from 1989 to 2005, Petrilli writes. Correction: Per-pupil spending doubled in current dollars, not real dollars. Inflation-adjusted per-pupil spending increased 31 percent over that period of time.

Freezing wages or laying off junior teachers or delaying repairs or monkeying around with accounting isn’t going to cut it. This is a time for a fundamental rethink. How many teachers do we need? What kinds? How can we best structure their compensation? How can we use technology to deliver education more efficiently? Should we be spending so much on special education? And on and on and on.

At a Des Moines, Iowa middle school, a retiring English teacher, Theresa Hoffman,  organized a protest of school funding cuts. Unfortunately, she didn’t proofread the signs.