Kashkari hits Jerry Brown for union ties, but motive unproven

A screen grab from Neel Kashkari’s ad that claims Gov. Jerry Brown is turning his back on California’s schoolchildren.
A screen grab from Neel Kashkari’s ad that claims Gov. Jerry Brown is turning his back on California’s schoolchildren. YouTube

Neel Kashkari, the Republican candidate for governor, is running a TV ad that depicts him saving a drowning child and claims Gov. Jerry Brown “betrayed our kids to protect his donors.”

The 30-second ad opens with text over video of a boy flailing in a pool: “When kids in failing schools begged Jerry Brown for rescue … HE BETRAYED THEM.”

Kashkari is shown pulling the boy to safety before addressing the camera directly. Following is text of the ad and an analysis by David Siders of The Bee Capitol Bureau.

Text: “I’m Neel Kashkari. I’m running for governor because every kid in every neighborhood deserves a good education and a chance for a better life. Jerry Brown betrayed our kids to protect his donors. When I’m governor, I’ll fight for kids, not against them.”

Analysis: Though it does not explicitly mention the case, the ad – beyond the shocking imagery – is a continuation of Kashkari’s criticism of Brown for appealing a court ruling that found California’s teacher dismissal rules unconstitutional.

In the case, Vergara v. California, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled California’s rules for teacher tenure and dismissal deprive students of their constitutional right to a quality education by keeping inferior teachers in classrooms.

Brown appealed in August but has said little publicly on the question. His lawyers argued that “changes of this magnitude, as a matter of law and policy, require appellate review.”

Kashkari’s claim that Brown “betrayed our kids to protect his donors” is based on heavy interest in the Vergara decision by the California Teachers Association, one of Brown’s biggest contributors.

But the motive ascribed to Brown’s appeal – that he did so “to protect his donors” – is unproven.

Brown and the CTA have a longstanding relationship, going back to when Brown was governor before. The union gained broader influence in state politics after Brown signed legislation in 1975 requiring school districts to engage in collective bargaining. The CTA spent millions of dollars helping Brown win election in 2010, and it remains a major supporter.

Yet Brown has at times gone against the CTA. Among other irritants to the union has been his advocacy for charter schools. Brown started two of them while mayor of Oakland and lobbied against legislation to unionize charter school teachers. This year, Brown signed legislation giving the proponents of ballot initiatives more time to collect signatures and allowing them to withdraw their initiatives or add amendments, a bill the CTA opposed.

Call David Siders, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1215. Follow him on Twitter @davidsiders.