Stories from Weird California – CPC Newsletter

By Will Swaim
March 8, 2021

Forgive my typos – but by all means send in your favorite Stories from Weird California, samples of which we offer you here.

Newsom announces reopening plan to union criticism: In his latest analysis of that King of Covidial Concern, Governor Gavin Newsom, CPC policy analyst Brandon Ristoff notes that Newsom keeps moving the goalposts on his school reopening proposals in order to appease union-backed lawkmakers in the Legislature. California now ranks dead last in reopening schools, according to Burbio. Leaders of United Teachers of Los Angeles woke (pun!) from their nap towels, ate stale graham crackers and milk, and denounced the plan as “a recipe for propagating structural racism [that] is deeply unfair to the students we serve.”

How about we let Major League Baseball run California’s schools? The governor may be feckless where opening the state’s public schools is concerned. But Politico reports that Newsom is bullish on prospects for baseball, saying the World Series Champion Los Angeles Dodgers could have fans in stands by their April 9 home-opener against the Washington Nationals. SoCal baseball fans (except perhaps those waving the monkey for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) are ecstatic about this grant of personal freedom, and no doubt eager to praise our Dear Leader for letting us play ball.

But (and I’m thinking of another kind of dodger here), LA’s teachers union leaders this week asked their 30,000 members to carry out a full-on strike to block school reopenings — a walkout that would be their second in just 26 months. We call BS on the union’s claim that it’s just looking out “for the communities we serve,” knowing as we do that LA’s school closures have disproportionately hurt the poor and that every major medical association including the CDC and SoCal pediatricians has concluded schools are not a disease vortex — except perhaps for dangerously high levels of woke propaganda. The Los Angeles Times reports that 1500 local pediatricians urged immediate school reopening in LA, citing “a recent survey of more than 500 Los Angeles teachers who reported ‘low levels of student attendance and engagement’ [via distance learning] and said children are suffering emotional and mental impacts ‘related to social isolation, anxiety, lack of structure. Suicidality among teenagers is now an active area of investigation.’”

Deep cinema reference! The Los Angeles Unified School District announced deployment of a phone-based app to track Covid exposure in the nation’s second-largest school district. Depending on your perspective, the “Daily Pass” app, designed by Microsoft, is either the next step in government surveillance of citizens or a sound application of technology to public health. LAUSD superintendent Austin Beutner says from where he sits — on a mountain of chocolate – it’s “sort of like the golden ticket in ‘Willy Wonka,’ everyone with this pass can easily get into a school building.” Here’s what we’re betting: The United Teachers of LA will say it’s both, but will soon conclude that for the sake of politics it’s more useful to declare that the Daily Pass is being used to surveil teachers and students in marginalized communities. Daily Pass will then become just another reason to strike, we’re saying.

‘So, if you’re a wealthy white, Asian or Middle Eastern parent, LAUSD doesn’t want to hear from you.’ LAUSD parent and Parent Union ally Maryam Qudrat got an email from an unexpected source recently: a representative of United Teachers Los Angeles. In the email to Qudrat, “UTLA research specialist” Albert Lowe writes:

I’m working on a research project on who speaks on LAUSD issues in the LA Times and coding for race and class. You are quoted twice in the last eight months. In coding, my rubric is self-identification within the article, self-identification found elsewhere or using the last name index on the census for all names with at least 1000 results. Qudrat is not in that index and I have not found any statements by you about your own self-identification. I know that Maryam is a common Iranian name, but I will not make any assumptions without a legitimate method. Could you tell me how you racially self-identify or point me to a citation on your identity?

Qudrat, a California State University Long Beach engineering professor who knows something about research, wonders why her ethnicity is a legitimate part of any “legitimate method” or “rubric.” Her take on the email? “I’m being targeted by the teachers union because of my being vocal as an educator pushing for the kids to have a proper education,” Qudrat told the Daily Caller. Not just Maryam, of course, but all union critics who speak to the Los Angeles Times. 

Lowe, the union researcher, cordially ends his email by inviting Qudrat “to contact me if you have any questions about my project or intent.” CPC took that as an open invitation — and we asked him. But this morning, as we hit send on this weekly missive/missile, we’ve got no response from Lowe. Meantime, we heard Maryam’s bonus track on LA’s “John & Ken.”

Green eggs and censorship: San Diego-based Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced this week that there’ll be fewer books in the official Seuss canon. In a press release, the organization, which is led by Seuss heirs, said it was “working with a panel of experts, including educators” to review “our catalog of titles.” That led to a decision “to cease publication and licensing of the following titles: And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, If I Ran the Zoo, McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super!, and The Cat’s Quizzer.” Why? “These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.” The inimitable Dan McLaughlin says the Dr. Seuss Enterprises announcement may be why “President Biden left Dr. Seuss out of mention in the presidential proclamation of the National Education Association’s Read Across America initiative, breaking with prior proclamations by Donald Trump and Barack Obama.” A confederacy of education “experts” — including government unions and professors at the University of California – have been marshalling forces for a final assault on Dr. Seuss, from their secret enclave high atop Mt. We’re Smarter Than You. The : “‘Of the 2,240 (identified) human characters, there are 45 characters of color representing 2 percent of the total number of human characters,’ according to a 2019 study from the Conscious Kid’s Library and the University of California that examined 50 of Dr. Seuss’ books. Last week, a Virginia school district ordered its teachers to avoid ‘connecting Read Across America Day with Dr. Seuss” because of recent research that allegedly “revealed strong racial undertones” in many of the author’s books. The irony of banning an artist whose characters did more to attack authoritarianism and racism ain’t lost on McLaughlin, whose sprawling critique must be read in full: “If you want a window into the long march of leftists through the institutions of American culture, the cast of characters with power to take Dr. Seuss books out of print or remove them from reading lists is a good primer.”

Everyone should collectively bargain for their job? Very little that emerges from under the cupola in Sacramento is surprising, and Gov. Newsom’s Future of Work Commission report after 18 months of talks with union labor leaders confirms the grim pattern. Convened “to assess the challenges related to the present and future of work in California, identify areas of focus, and develop recommendations for action,” we got another taxpayer subsidized grab bag of progressive talking points. Read closely and you’ll find that it’s a redoubled effort to impose precisely the sorts of regulations that have generated the greatest decline in California’s population since 1900.

Let us now praise infamous governors: Seriously, this newsletter gives Gavin Newsom just volumes of deserved bad press, but CPC cofounder and all-around policy dandy Edward Ring says we can score one for the governor: “In a rare and commendable display of political courage and common sense, Newsom has been working to finally grant permits to construct a second major seawater desalination plant on the Southern California Coast.” The Los Angeles Times objects with the ferocity of men with quill pens, declaring that while “the Huntington Beach facility meets the state goal of diversifying California’s water supply, it would undermine other environmental policies.” Says Mr. Ring in response, “The construction of anything in California, though meeting the needs of one agency will be opposed to multiple others. This is the dystopian nature of California’s self-contradictory and destructive regulatory environment.” Read the whole masterpiece right here.

‘Curious curatorial conduct.’ The free-market Silicon Valley news site Opportunity Now asked a panel of police and community representatives to review the city of San Jose’s Office of Cultural Affairs art exhibit “Holding the Moment.” The amateur art critics reveal a sophisticated understanding of the First Amendment while grappling with the bizarro world of a city-sponsored arts competition that includes art glorifying attacks on one group of city employees — San Jose police. “I don’t think anybody is suggesting that artists don’t have a right to produce art like this using non-public funds, but are instead questioning why taxpayers are paying for it and why the Office of Cultural Affairs endorses it,” said one of the panel’s critics. “Why would this city department choose to support a piece which incites violence against law enforcement officers and fund it through Capital Improvement Funds intended for ‘iconic’ works of public art?” In other news,

Our Committee on Stanford’s ‘Committee on Committees’: In episode 162 of their rollicking Radio Free California podcast, CPC president Will Swaim (note: that’s me) and CPC boardmember David Bahnsen discuss the work of Stanford University’s professors to take down the university-affiliated free-market Hoover Institution. In other news: David says if the ACLU is to mean anything, it ought to at least stand for each of the nouns in its name. Will says public-safety unions are more worried about conservative lawmakers than lefty Defund Police campaigns. California’s auditor says the state air-resources board isn’t hitting its own goals and has turned to alternative facts to say that it is. Download Radio Free California wherever you source fine podcasts, or find it here on the National Review website. 

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Yours,

Will Swaim

President

Commercial Message One! If you – or anyone you know – belongs to a public employee union and doesn’t want to keep paying dues for any reason, send them to MyPayMySay.com and we’ll help them out. Better yet, if employees are shy about leaving the union by themselves, they should get one or more of their friends to save hundreds of dollars every year by not paying for the privilege of being ignored.

Commercial Message Two! The race to reopen schools got real this week. CPC’s Parent Union helps parents and students who need help navigating their choices for school – especially those who want their kids back to in-person learning. In addition to our longstanding Facebook page, you can follow our newest Twitter feed and visit our revamped Parent Union website. We’re looking to grow our ranks and help parents get the tools they need to become better advocates for their kids. Can you imagine how much we could improve education policy in California if we had parents in every public school, charter school, private school or homeschool affiliate partner with us?

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