First, I want to thank John Wildermuth for making my daily afternoon can of Diet Coke so unnecessary. His recent column at Fox and Hounds Daily provided me with one jolt after another.
I cannot hold John totally responsible for some of what he wrote. In some circles you just are not taken seriously unless you compare Republicans to bent cops, imply they have a fourth grader’s ability to develop positions and that the positions they do develop are based upon “reasons lost in the fog of the past.”
But what really got me off my polo pony and in front of my computer was John’s statement that opposition to a proposed constitutional amendment that would have systematically reduced the number of Asian Americans in our California colleges (SCA5) was by “Asian American voters with a specific complaint very much in their own self interest. You know, just like all the other interest groups looking for something from the Legislature.”
Maybe it is just me, but I find it offensive to compare parents from a group that has experienced unthinkable discrimination in our state (see Internment Camps, World War Two) and who are concerned their children will not get a quality education because of their race to some business looking for a tax break. And when Republicans stand up to support the civil rights of those people, we are “gleefully plotting how to use the kerfuffle” [kerfuffle!] “over UC admissions to pry them out the Democratic Party.” Liberalism has come a long, long way.
Our history has sometimes been hijacked by the left. That statement is too extreme you say? To you, three questions:
Kudos if you said Dwight Eisenhower, although totally understandable if you said John Kennedy.
True or false: John Kennedy attempted to stop Martin Luther King from giving his “I Have a Dream” speech?
True. Surprised? You are not alone.
Who has deported more Latinos than all other presidents combined?
Of course, if the answer were a Republican we would have seen one documentary after another with dark, sinister music in the background. But it’s Barack Obama. I am still checking my TV listings.
So, as John challenges us, if SCA5 is not the answer to ensuring our black and Latino students get a quality education, what is our solution? There are many, including many Democrats, who do a lot more on this issue than me. However, I spend a significant amount of time focusing on minority education issues in Santa ClaraCounty. And there are several things we can do in California that will have a lasting impact.
First, we have to give schools the ability to get rid of poor teachers, especially those charged with sexually abusing our children. According to the Los AngelesSchool District’s own numbers, black students are 43% more likely to have a teacher who ranks in the bottom 5%, Latinos 68%. Yet under current law getting poor quality teachers out of the classroom is almost impossible
Then, many minority students who successfully survive the K-12 gauntlet are not admitted to California colleges. Often this is because our colleges accept students from outside California so they can charge more for them to attend.
If minority students are able to get into and graduate from college and then want to go back to their communities to teach, they are guaranteed they will be the first to be fired. This is because as a matter of state law the hiring of teachers is based on seniority, which disproportionately favors whites.
And we wonder why our children are failing.
Look, I don’t care who solves this problem. If it’s Democrats, I will be the first to applaud them. And I am not saying every Republican has been a champion of civil rights or that there are not Democrats who have made tremendous sacrifices to get us where we are today.
What I am saying is that it is going to take more than insults and the perpetuation of tired political stereotypes to solve this problem. It is going to require us to have as our No. 1 priority the interests of the children. It is going to require us to stand up to the real special interest that controls education in this state – the teachers’ union.
It is going to require us to write our laws based on empirical evidence, not raw political muscle. And finally, it is going to require us to listen to what each person has to say, even if they are Asian American and yes even if they are a Republican.
When he’s not grooming his polo ponies, Duf Sundheim of Los Altos Hills is a principal at GPS Mediation and also Global Policy Strategies, APC. He served as chairman of the California Republican Party 2003-2007, was active in the recall of Gov. Gray Davis and campaigns for redistricting and the open primary.