Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Teacher Misconduct Okay with California Credentialing Panel

Just in time for the CTA's "State of Emergency" week, in which they're protesting the state Capitol and the offices of Republican lawmakers, as well as calling for higher taxes, we have this: according to the Sacramento Bee, lawmakers spent a two-hour hearing yesterday blasting the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing for its policies regarding teacher misconduct. After the hearing, Bell Gardens Assemblyman (and Joint Legislative Audit Committee chairman) Jim Lara announced he will press Gov. Brown to force the entire board out. "Somebody needs to be held accountable for the gross mismanagement of the commission," Lara said.

The story begins with Kathy Carroll, a former attorney for the Commission and a whistle-blower whose complaints led to a state investigation by state Auditor Elaine Howle. The audit's findings were brutal: Howle found widespread lapses in "launching investigations, updating files, gathering facts, tracking cases and revoking credentials in teacher misconduct cases". In August 2009, she noted a three-year backlog of 12,600 arrest or prosecution reports with the Commission. She also found that 40% of the employees she interviewed said that the Commission's hiring and promotion decisions are influenced by favoritism and family connections.

It's not clear what will happen next. Brown controls 14 of the 15 seats on the Commission board, but seven are currently serving set terms and can't easily be turfed out. The Commission's Executive Director, David Janssen, has already submitted his resignation, even as he and Chairwoman Ting Sun try to reassure legislators that the board is taking Howle's findings seriously and making meaningful improvements. Said Sun, "I have never found blaming and shaming to be a constructive way of resolving problems".

Hmm, "blaming and shaming". Sort of like teachers shouting "shame on you" to CHP officers in the Capitol rotunda on Monday? Or like teachers blaming Jerry Brown, Republican lawmakers, and the taxpayers for not throwing more money their way, even though those same education professionals can't be trusted to investigate threats to child safety?

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