Home / General / Right-wing judicial activism, part 7,563

Right-wing judicial activism, part 7,563


A California trial court judge has decided that children in the state have a constitutional right to be exposed to an equal percentage of bad teachers, and that the relevant state statutes violate this right, because they provide for tenure decisions regarding teachers to be made after two years of employment, rather than three.

Sensing perhaps that “some” might consider this kind of thing to be legislating from the bench, the judge goes out of his way to point out that he’s just following the law, and that there’s no political component to his decision whatsoever:

This court stresses legal positions intentionally. It is not unmindful of the current intense political debate over issues of education. However, its duty and function, as mandated by the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of the State of California, and the Common Law [wut?], is to avoid considering the political aspects of the case and focus only on the legal ones. That this Court’s decision will and should result in political discourse is beyond question, but such consequence cannot and does not detract from its obligation to consider only the evidence and law in making its decision.

(Emphasis and pomposity in the original)

Speaking of politics:

Students Matter, the non-profit that funded the multi-million dollar suit, is founded and primarily funded by David Welch. Welch made his fortune in fiber optics, first serving as CTO of SDL when the company went through a $41 billion merger with JDS Uniphase in 2000 and later founding Infinera.

In 2010, Welch founded Students Matter, claiming his “passion for public education arises from his roles both as a parent of three school-aged children and as an employer in two highly successful start-ups in Silicon Valley.” Students Matter was unique, as an investigation by Capital & Main discovered, because Welch “had virtually no background in education policy or any direct financial stake in the multibillion-dollar, for-profit education and standardized testing industries.”

However, Welch quickly cozied up to organizations and individuals that work to privatize America’s once-great education system:

Yet Welch and his nonprofit play a special role among a group of other nonprofits and personalities whose legal actions, school board campaigns, op-eds and overlapping advisory boards suggest a highly synchronized movement devoted to taking control of public education. The David and Heidi Welch Foundation, for example, has given to NewSchools Venture Fund, where Welch has been an “investment partner” and which invests in both charter schools and the cyber-charter industry, and has been linked to the $9 billion-per-year textbook and testing behemoth Pearson. Welch has also supported Michelle Rhee’s education-privatizing lobby StudentsFirst, most recently with a $550,000 bequest in 2012.

StudentsFirst also turned up on an early list of Students Matter’s “advisory committee” that included ardent education privatizers Democrats for Education Reform, Parent Revolution and NewSchools Venture Fund. Both StudentsFirst and NewSchools Venture Fund also appear on a list of Vergara supporters that includes the California Charter Schools Association, along with Los Angeles Unified School District superintendent (and onetime Vergara co-defendant) John Deasy and former Oakland Unified School District superintendent Tony Smith.

Meanwhile, Welch lives in Atherton, home to the most expensive zip code in America, where the cheapest house on the market in 2013—”a 1,194-square-foot, two-bedroom bungalow”—listed for $1.2 million. And Welch is in good company, with Eric Schmidt, Charles Schwab, and Meg Whitman all living in the Valley enclave. So with his own children facing no meaningful obstacle towards obtaining a first-rate public education, Welch “recruited” nine children primarily from low-income communities, “saying teacher job protections harm their ability to get the ‘adequate’ education they are promised in the state constitution.”

And that tactic, argued in court by a legal team co-led by George W. Bush’s Solicitor General Theodore Olson, paid off today in the courts.

Meanwhile, even the liberal Obama administration etc etc:

The ruling was hailed by the nation’s top education chief as bringing to California — and possibly the nation — an opportunity to build “a new framework for the teaching profession.” The decision represented “a mandate” to fix a broken teaching system, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said.

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