Do You Really Know Who is Teaching Your Child?

Do You Really Know Who is Teaching Your Child?

Hookers plying their trade while government turns a blind eye.

Consequences for sexual perverts? No, the state doesn’t seem to care.

Whistle blower fired for exposing massive corruption.

Rampant nepotism in government jobs.

Private bureaucratic empire using public funds.

The above could probably pass as blurbs for a sequel to the movie Chinatown. But while Chinatown was a fictitious movie sprung from the fertile imagination of Robert Towne, the above statements apply to an agency in the executive branch of California state government called the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC).

This entity whose mission is to “ensure integrity and high quality in the preparation, conduct and professional growth of the educators who serve California’s public schools” is in fact a corrupt, callous and self-serving club that cares nothing at all about your kids.

What is turning into a major scandal first came to light with little fanfare from the press in early April when California State Auditor Elaine Howle released a report that blew the lid off what she referred to as “one of the ‘worst state run’ agencies in CA.’”

Here are the highlights from the auditor’s report:

  • As of the summer of 2009, according to the commission’s management, the commission’s Division of Professional Practices (division) had accumulated a backlog of 12,600 unprocessed reports of arrest and prosecution (RAP sheets)—almost three times a typical annual workload.
  • These conditions appear to have significantly delayed processing of alleged misconduct and potentially allowed educators of questionable character to retain a credential. Our case review revealed the following concerning the division:
  • For nearly 40 percent of the cases we reviewed, it took more than 80 days to open a case after receiving a report of misconduct and nearly two years in one case and three years in another case.
  • It did not effectively track the status of cases that, if the credential holder is convicted of the crime charged, require mandatory revocation of the credential—it took one and a half months and six months, respectively, in two cases to revoke the credential after receiving court documents.
  • It relied on the prosecution of criminal charges and delayed in seeking additional information from school districts, witnesses, and alleged victims, thus jeopardizing its ability to obtain information needed to investigate the misconduct.
  • To streamline the Committee of Credentials’ (committee) processing of pending cases, the division uses its discretion to close cases or not open cases for which it believes the committee would choose not to recommend disciplinary action against the credential holder. However, we do not believe the committee can lawfully delegate this discretion to the division.
  • The commission’s database that tracks cases the division reviews and investigates does not always contain complete and accurate information regarding cases of reported misconduct.
  • We found discrepancies between the information in the database and paper files.
  • The commission does not have procedures to account for all reports of educator misconduct it receives.
  • Recently implemented reports lack the information necessary to make them efficient case-tracking and management tools.
  • Because the commission does not have a complete set of approved hiring procedures and did not consistently document justification for hiring a particular candidate, it is vulnerable to allegations that its hiring decisions are unfair and that employment opportunities are not afforded equally to all candidates.

The last bullet point refers to the fact that the CTC apparently has engaged in rampant nepotism. The auditors were given the names of 24 colleagues – past and present – who are related to each other. The agency leaders had the audacity to tell the auditors that this is just “a small percentage” of the 160 person staff.

It is important to note that while not all 12,000+ cases of unprosecuted reports are for offenses that should lead to a teachers termination, many are. Do we really know how many sexual perverts and other dangerous felons are teaching the children of California? How many teachers are currently moonlighting as prostitutes? How many teachers share pornographic pictures with their students? It was 17 months before the commission even got around to investigating a case of a teacher accused of showing porn to his students.

There is an important player in this scandal that has thus far escaped any scrutiny: the California Teachers Association. The CTA, with its hairy-but-not-so-hidden-hands, has a full complement of “liaisons” which act as representatives of the union and monitor, advocate, lobby, testify, etc. before every state government agency that has an effect on education policy. Hence, the CTA liaisons are regulars at CTC meetings, and are not shy about weighing in on issues affecting teacher competency. Since the union has a terrific record in protecting criminal and incompetent teachers, this is hardly surprising.

According to Alan Bonsteel, president and founder of California Parents for Educational Choice, the current CTC scandal is really nothing new. For example, he claims that CTA has a history of defending teachers picked up as hookers on the grounds that what they do outside the classroom should not affect their right to teach. One CTA member on the commission was heard to crack, “If we paid teachers enough, they wouldn’t need to supplement their income that way.” Please remember this the next time that CTA tells us how much it cares about “the children.”

Who are the good guys in this mess?

Certainly Kathleen Carroll is one of them. She was the whistle blowing CTC lawyer who, sensing deep problems with the commission in 2009, began to ask a lot of questions. This past December, she was fired for her efforts.

Also worth noting is Dem. State Assemblyman Ricardo Lara from Bell Gardens, who jumped into the fray and convened a legislative oversight hearing on the CTC, insisting that heads need to roll.

We also should be thankful for State Auditor Elaine Howle, whose report ushered this atrocity into the public arena.

Who deserves excoriation?

Every member of the CTC who has perverted a public trust resulting in harm to thousands of children stuck in classrooms with teachers who have no business being there. They should be held accountable and indicted.

The CTA, which plays an important role in this commission. The union has been silent since the scandal has unraveled. The union has either been the tail that wags the CTC dog or, at best, a willing co-conspirator in this abomination. In either event, CTA’s reach and unbridled power needs to be reined in.

In any event, last week the resignations began to roll in. Among the major players to leave their posts were CTC Executive Director Dale Janssen and General Counsel Mary C. Armstrong.

This promises to be sordid, ongoing tale of an out of control California government bureaucracy and an abusive teachers union wreaking havoc on our children and the taxpayers. How much more can our beleaguered state withstand?

About the author: Larry Sand is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues.

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