Neither one deserves our votes
A group of California teachers explain why both the Democratic and Republican candidates for governor are ready to attack their union--and working-class families.
EDUCATORS IN California face a rotten choice between a rampaging Republican and a dithering Democrat. Neither major candidate has real answers to solve the crisis rocking working families in the state.
Meg Whitman's slash-and-burn austerity program is clear enough to everyone. Jerry Brown, on the other hand, has easily won the endorsements of the California Federation of Teachers and the California Teachers Association. This support is undeserved.
Brown said in a recent interview on KCRA, "We're going to have to make some cuts that nobody really looks forward to." He accepts the logic of balancing the crisis on the backs of state workers, students, the poor and the disabled. There is not a shred of evidence that he will raise taxes on the rich, close corporate tax loopholes or campaign to overturn Proposition 13.
In another interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Brown pledged to cut pensions for public employees. He also referred to low-income families as "criminals" and suggested that environmental laws are bad for economic growth.
On education reform, Brown personally championed two charter schools as mayor of Oakland and failed to restructure that city's notoriously pro-corporate tax system to actually fund its schools.
In his political career, Brown has been the lead architect of California's prison-industrial complex. As attorney general, he has overseen a system that destroys the lives of young men of color as quickly as it saps state resources. (To be fair, his Web site touts his record of opposing wasteful prison spending...such as blocking the funding of direly needed new medical facilities for inmates.)
To add insult to injury, Jerry Brown's losing principles are surpassed only by his losing campaign.
Giving our money and time to the "less evil" politician and hoping for the best is a questionable strategy in good times. But right now we're being hammered by an economic recession and anti-teacher federal policy worse than the Bush years.
In 2005, a coalition of nurses, firefighters and teachers defeated Arnold Schwarzenegger's anti-union ballot initiatives by grassroots organizing and constant public demonstrations. This is a rough blueprint for standing up for ourselves, no matter who gets elected in November.
It is time to rescind our unions' endorsements of Jerry Brown.
Let's redirect our resources to rebuilding the organizing power inside California Federation of Teachers and California Teachers Association, the power that is the lifeblood of unionism. Let's get serious about undoing Prop. 13. Let's give an honest hearing to Green Party and Peace & Freedom candidates. Let's spend our money kick-starting a national drive to fire Arne Duncan and to put a halt to Race to the Top.
Rebecca Anshell Song, San Diego Education Association*
Dana Blanchard, Le Conte Elementary School, Berkeley Federation of Teachers*
John Gallagher, Forest Park Elementary, Fremont Unified District Teachers Association*
John Green, Castro Valley High School, Castro Valley Teachers Association*
Deborah Goldsmith, City College of San Francisco, SF Community College District Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 2121*
Adrienne Johnstone, San Francisco Community School, United Educators of San Francisco, CFT/AFT Local 61, CTA/NEA*
Sarah Knopp, Youth Opportunities Unlimited Alternative High School, United Teachers Los Angeles, CFT*
Andy Libson, Mission High School, United Educators of San Francisco, CFT/AFT Local 61, CTA/NEA*
Jessie Muldoon, Oakland High School, Oakland Education Association*
Gillian Russom, Roosevelt High School, United Teachers Los Angeles, CFT*
Ben Visnick, Oakland High School, Oakland Education Association*
Jean Whittlesey, Berkeley High School, Berkeley Federation of Teachers*
Marc Wutschke, Belmont Community Adult School, United Teachers Los Angeles, CTA*
*For identification purposes only