Taking on tenure and tenuous school financing

What a difference five years makes: In 2007, 97 percent of eligible teachers earned tenure in New York City; this year, only 55 percent were so rewarded. For decades, unions have defended tenure by pointing out that strong-willed districts can simply deny it to mediocre candidates. New York, to its credit and the benefit of hundreds of thousands of students, is doing just that. Gadfly just hopes districts around the country will have the gumption to follow Gotham’s lead.

Last Sunday’s Los Angeles Times featured a truly frightening look at the influence of the Golden State’s “fourth branch of government”: the California Teachers Association. The CTA’s political clout is hardly a surprise but the Times’s history of its strong arming and backroom deal-making provides sobering perspective on how California ended up in such a dreadful budget bind.

After reading Paul Tough’s thoughtful and thorough look at President Obama’s anti-poverty policies, Gadfly can’t help but conclude that no one really knows what to do about extreme poverty.

Forget the housing crisis: School districts now want to try their hands at reckless borrowing. Education faces daunting fiscal challenges, no doubt, and the public understands that tough cuts are necessary, but some districts, in Southern California and around the nation, are pushing the inevitable pain off onto future generationswith reckless bonds that mortgage the education of future generations. Such action not only wastes the present opportunity for systemic reform: It also means the inevitable day of reckoning will be twice as brutal.

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