The governor seems to be soft-pedaling his merit pay initiative lately, despite consistently robust polling numbers. Is this why?
The labor coalition opposing his measures and the California Teachers Assn. are circulating a legal analysis that says Schwarzenegger’s measure would inadvertently gut current provisions that prohibit school districts from hiring convicted felons, sex offenders, drug users or teachers who have yet to pass a minimum competency exam.
The merit pay proposal is a constitutional amendment. The proposed amendment says that “any employment decision shall be based solely on employee performance, as assessed annually, and on the needs of the school district and its pupils, as determined by the governing board of the school district…” It further defines “employment decision” to mean hiring, compensating, promoting, demoting, or terminating” an employee. This was meant to take seniority out of the equation.
But CTA lawyer Beverly Tucker says she believes that provision, because it would be in the constitution, would also supercede current statute that lays out minimum standards every district must follow in hiring and firing teachers. Those standards include not hiring certain convicted felons.
“It’s certainly possible that every district in the state could adopt policies that follow those minimum standards,” she told me. “But on the day after the election, they will have to make decisions based on the needs of the school district and its pupils. They are deregulating school district employment decisions.”
I’m no lawyer, but I think they have a point. When your proposal says “any employment decision” shall be based “solely” on certain factors, I’ve got to assume you mean what you say. Especially when you want to put that standard into the constitution. At a minimum, if this measure ever does make it to the ballot, the opponents would have a killer argument to use against it.
Posted by dweintraub at 4:38 PM
This study from Pew Charitable Trust shows why Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is right to focus on illegal immigration. But it also shows why he's putting his emphasis in the wrong place. Illegal immigration does the most harm to those at the bottom of the economic ladder, especially other recent immigrants. The Pew study shows that Hispanics, despite robust employment growth, were the only ethnic group to see a real decline in wages each of the past two years. Pew attributes that decline to competition for entry-level jobs among new immigrants, who bid down the wages. If not for illegal immigration, in other words, Latinos working as bus boys, waiters, maids, landscapers and construction laborers would be earning higher wages. It's possible, in fact consistent, to be pro-Latino and against illegal immigration. But you don't send that message by throwing in with the Minutemen.
Here is my column on the governor's recent rant.
And here is an LA Times story about the emerging immigration deal in Congress.
Posted by dweintraub at 6:25 AM