Constitutional Right to a High-Quality Public Education Act would amend the constitution to assert that all students have the right to education that “provides them with the skills necessary to fully participate in the economy, our democracy, and our society.”
One of the only silver linings of having California citizenship is that, occasionally, we can undo the progressive madness in Sacramento via a ballot initiative.
And while the bar is high for success, the issue of children’s education is a cause that spans political differences.
The state’s constitution requires California to fund public education but stays silent about its quality. Organizers of a measure on the state ballot in 2022 want to change that.
The proposed initiative, called the Constitutional Right to a High-Quality Public Education Act, would amend the constitution to assert that all students have the right to a high-quality public education that “provides them with the skills necessary to fully participate in the economy, our democracy, and our society.”
The proposed change to the constitution needs to gather enough signatures to appear on the ballot in November 2022, after which it will be put to a statewide vote.
The proposed amendment doesn’t define a high-quality education. That would be left to plaintiffs to argue and courts to determine.
But proponents point to certain state education laws they say “do not put the interests of students first,” such as forcing children to attend low-quality public schools, retaining poor-performing employees, and adopting policies that “protect abusive school employees or otherwise undermine school safety.”
The proposed amendment wouldn’t guarantee victory for anyone wanting to challenge a school law or policy, said Michael Trujillo, a spokesman for the initiative, but it would give them some legal standing.
“We’re not selling a silver bullet here,” he said. “We’re selling a tool for parents, and policymakers to to be armed with.”
The inspiration behind this measure stems from the 2014 Vergara v. California decision that was spearheaded by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Dave Welch and other organizers. While that decision asserted the rules related to teacher tenure, firing bad teachers, and layoff policies violated the state’s Constitution, it was overturned in 2016 by the California Court of Appeals.
The appeals court reversed the decision, essentially saying California kids had a right to a free education…not necessarily a good one.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu sided with the plaintiffs – nine students in five school districts and Students Matter, the organization that Welch founded. The evidence of “the effect of grossly ineffective teachers on students is compelling. Indeed, it shocks the conscience,” he wrote in a 2014 decision.
But two years later, three judges on a Court of Appeal in Los Angeles unanimously overturned the decision, writing that the plaintiffs didn’t establish “that the statutes inevitably cause a certain group of students to receive an education inferior to the education received by other students.”
“With no proper showing of a constitutional violation, the court is without power to strike down the challenged statutes,” the decision stated.
The ballot measure’s goal is to correct that apparent constitutional oversight.
Andy Kessler, author and contributor to The Wall Street Journal, interviewed Welch about his motivation for what will be a difficult and expensive battle against the California Teachers Association to obtain the one million signatures required for the measure to make the ballot. His response:
What we’re doing to our kids is horrific,” he says. “I can’t think of a greater loss of potential than the poor quality of education of our children. And all the other societal problems that come with it. The prison system uses educational outcomes—fourth-grade reading levels—to determine what size correctional facilities they’ll need.” Scary.
I think a successful Kids First ballot initiative would do more for “equity” than any government program. “The best way in making a productive functioning society is making sure everyone lives up to their potential,” Mr. Welch says. “Education is one of the basic pillars of American democracy.” That pillar is crumbling.
A link to the proposed measure is HERE.DONATE
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