Teachers win big in Vergara suit – students in rough schools don’t

Good morning. On behalf of The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board, welcome to The Take, your opinion-politics newsletter. Please sign up for it here.

California’s teachers union leaders were crowing Monday about their latest victory. We lament it. Here’s an early look at our editorial, to be printed Wednesday. Erika D. Smith breaks down what became of Donald Trump’s high standing among African Americans. We offer helpful suggestions for Hillary Clinton about the Clinton Foundation, and take a spin through editorial pages in California and beyond.

Take that

Teachers unions continued their winning streak Monday. Students? Not so much, especially not the kids who have the misfortune of drawing one of California’s 2,750 to 8,250 teachers statewide who are deemed “grossly ineffective.”

Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court deadlocked on a case challenging the California Teachers Association’s power to extract dues from teachers who disagreed with the union.

On Monday, the California Supreme Court refused to hear a suit brought by Beatriz Vergara and other plaintiffs, who contend California laws that protect bad teachers from being fired violate their right to an education. In June, the unions defeated modest legislation to tweak tenure laws.

Justices Goodwin Liu and Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, both appointees of Gov. Jerry Brown, issued extraordinary dissents in an unsuccessful effort to persuade other justices to hear the case. Justice Ming Chin, a Pete Wilson appointee, joined Liu and Cuéllar. But three justices weren’t enough on the seven-member court.

Cuéllar wrote of “staggering failures that threaten to turn the right to education for California schoolchildren into an empty promise.”

“As the state’s highest court,” Liu wrote, “we owe the plaintiffs in this case, as well as schoolchildren throughout California, our transparent and reasoned judgment on whether the challenged statutes deprive a significant subset of students of their fundamental right to education and violate the constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the laws.”

Among the statistics they cited, students taught by teachers in the bottom 5 percent of competence lose 9.54 months of learning in a single year, and 1 to 3 percent of teachers are grossly ineffective. That amounts to 2,750 to 8,250.

On Monday, the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers lauded the California court’s decision as a victory. It was, for less-than-effective teachers.

On Nov. 8, teachers unions will ask voters to approve a 12-year income tax on wealthy Californians, Proposition 55. Voters might well respond by asking: What have the unions done for us?

Take a number: 14.3 percent

The latest USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll showed Donald Trump’s standing among African American voters ticked up to 14.3 percent, while 81.3 percent are backing Hillary Clinton. Trump’s support among Latinos also increased, to 34 percent. Trump maintains his lead among white voters, 52.5 percent to Clinton’s 34 percent. Our conclusion: this race is not over.

Our take

Erika D. Smith: For decades, many black Americans idolized Donald Trump, making his name a staple of rap songs since the 1980s, and a synonym for the kind of wealth and power that continues to elude so many of us for a multitude of reasons. That was then.

Editorial: Hillary Clinton must steer clear of Clinton Foundation conflicts.

Editorial: Adam Gray’s internet poker bill is a losing hand.

Daniel Weintraub, among our regular contributors: Teen pregnancy remains a big issue for poor people and among some ethnic minorities. Kern County has an especially high teen pregnancy rate. But overall, California’s effort to reduce teen pregnancy is succeeding.

Assemblyman Rob Bonta’s Soapbox: California’s broken bail system punishes the poor.

David N. Plank’s Soapbox: Single score is a misleading way to judge California’s schools.

Their take

L.A. Times: All testimony and communication to the California Coastal Commission should be open to the public, which makes SB 1190 by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson worthy of support.

Mercury News: Assemblyman Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove, is pushing his AB 2835, which would mandate that all public employers orienting new employees allow time for a one-on-one, face-to-face sit-down with a union representative to make a pitch for union membership within four months of hiring, during work hours. This is a horrible idea.

Debra J. Saunders, The San Francisco Chronicle: I figured Jeffrey Toobin must be right about Patricia Hearst’s commutation and pardon because he’s a high-profile writer for The New Yorker and a CNN legal analyst.

Miami Herald: U.N. officials adopted a three-monkeys policy to the cholera outbreak in Haiti: They saw nothing. They heard nothing. They said nothing.

Lexington Herald-Leader: The “alt-right” movement is delighted by Donald Trump campaign’s new CEO, Steve Bannon.

Eric Frazier, Charlotte Observer: Blacks vote Democrat today because Democrats fought for their votes. The party that once welcomed cross-burning Klansmen did an about-face on civil rights and earned the black vote. Are you fighting to get those votes back? Nope.

Syndicates’ take

Eugene Robinson: Donald Trump’s “pivot” put him back in the mud.

Michael Gerson: Cheap populism helps no one.

Paul Krugman: The water next time.


“So Roger Ailes, former Fox News chairman, is going to be an adviser to the Trump campaign. Perfect! They can compare notes on sexual harassment.” – Powell Svendsen, Rancho Murieta