School Choice and Unions

There’s a contradiction in terms.

In January parents filed a petition to convert Palm Lane Elementary in Anaheim into a charter under California’s 2010 parent-trigger law, which allows a majority of parents in any failing school to force changes.

Naturally, the school’s district officials and teachers union demurred. Never mind that

Palm Lane had made the state Department of Education’s list of underperforming schools since 2003. Fewer than 40% of students scored proficient in English in 2013. About 85% are Hispanic, and most are low-income.

(Where is the Obama DoJ and disparate impact? Oh, wait…).

The officials and the unions went so far as to disregard California law as they dragged their feet and openly obstructed the conversion—and loss of union jobs and of income for the district officials’ use.

[U]nion even complained that signature gatherers were bribing parents with free iPads, a false allegation that the district superintendent repeated in a cautionary letter to parents.

Though more than 60% of parents signed the petition, the district threw out dozens of signatures that could not be “verified.” That is, the parents could not be reached between the hours of 8:30 am and 4:30 pm to confirm that they signed the petition. Maybe that’s because they were working.

Fortunately, and once again, a judge got one right.

Last Thursday Orange County Superior Court Judge Andrew Banks ruled in favor of the parents on all counts and rebuked the district’s conduct as “unreasonable, arbitrary, capricious and unfair.” He also scored district officials for violating their obligation under the trigger law to work in good faith with parents….

Judge Banks has ordered the district to accept the petition and allow parents to immediately begin soliciting charter school proposals.

Been all right, too, if the Judge also had ordered the district officials and the union to compensate the petitioners for their time wasted fighting these frivolous delays. Such an order might have given these officials pause as they plan their inevitable, time-wasting, delaying tactic of appeals.

Still, it’s a good ruling.

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