LOS ANGELES — Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari held a press conference at the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) conference in Los Angeles, demanding school reform and attacking incumbent Democrat Gov. Jerry Brown for doing nothing to stop the violation of the civil rights of minority children.
The context for Kashkari’s charge against Brown is the recent decision by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge to strike down California’s teacher tenure laws on the grounds that they violate state constitutional guarantees of adequate public education and that they “disproportionately affect poor and/or minority students” in schools.
Brown addressed the annual gathering on Friday morning, as Republican leaders in the state urged him not to appeal the decision in Vergara v. California, though the California Teachers Association has said that is plans to do so.
The decision has rippled nationwide, and has fueled one of Kashkari’s core campaign messages, namely education reform. It has also pitted Kashkari against teachers unions and the AFT in particular, whose president, Randi Weingarten, has said Vergara could “set us back in our effort to help all kids succeed.”
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has applauded Vergara as an opportunity for education reform.
In her own address to the AFT conference on Friday following Gov. Brown, a combative Weingarten reiterated her union’s opposition to Vergara, saying that it reflected “the perverse cry of so-called reformers: that the only way for students to win is for educators to lose.” She urged members not to let Vergara “get you down.”