California Teacher’s Union First Post-Scalia Winner

Demonstrators supporting Rebecca Friedrichs, a plaintiff in the case, outside the Supreme Court in January. Photo Credit New York Times report, 3/29/16

Demonstrators supporting Rebecca Friedrichs, a plaintiff in the case, outside the Supreme Court in January. Photo Credit New York Times report, 3/29/16

When a case involving California public schoolteachers – and by implication any union’s ability to collect fees from workers who choose not to join and do not want to pay for collective bargaining agreements – was first argued before the U.S. Supreme Court back in January, it seemed headed for another 5-4 vote that would greatly diminish the power of collective bargaining organizations.

But now, in what the New York Times calls “… the starkest illustration yet of how the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia last month has blocked the power of the court’s four remaining conservatives to move the law to the right…” it has been upheld on a 4-to-4 vote.

The times reports that “… a ruling in [the union-opposed teachers] favor would have affected millions of government workers and weakened public-sector unions, which stood to lose fees both from workers who objected to the positions the unions take and from those who simply chose not to join while benefiting from the unions’ efforts on their behalf.”

Read the NYT take the landmark case here: Victory for Unions as Supreme Court, Scalia Gone, Ties 4-4

New SoCal ‘Stealth Charter Schools’ Bring Confusion, Prompt Litigation

They are calling them “stealth charters” and the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper reports that “… San Diego County has seen a rise in ‘out-of-district’ charters in recent years — mostly independent-study programs authorized by small districts in the eastern reaches of the region. The arrangements can be appealing because the authorizing districts don’t stand to lose students, and they receive a percentage of the charter’s revenue in exchange for varying degrees of oversight and often administrative support services… regardless of what’s driving this trend, it has sparked bitter turf wars that have pitted districts against one another and stirred costly litigation.”
The challenge is that charters that are authorized in one district can set up shop in another. It’s a whole new front in the Golden State’s school wars.

California Columnist: Lawsuit Likely If Parent-Trigger School Index Nixed

Since its passage in 2010, California’s “parent trigger” charter school movement has been the subject of litigation, perhaps most notably in the landmark “Palm Lane Elementary School” case in Anaheim. The “trigger” laws allow parents to demand reform at failing schools, including converting the school to a charter school. The California move triggered a handful of other states to take up similar provisions.
Now, says Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters, Golden State lawmakers are considering dropping one part of that parent trigger legislation, the so-called Academic Performance Index, or “API.” The standardized testing program was passed before the parent trigger, but was eventually linked to the controversial charter school efforts. Walters says removing the API will likely mean yet another lawsuit.


He writes that “… Gloria Romero, the former Democratic state senator who wrote the parent trigger law, says that if the API disappears, the Legislature should be duty-bound to provide a new performance measure for parents. However, the staff recommendation before the state school board is to eliminate the API and “identify the obsolete and outdated references to the API that need to be removed” as part of its repeal, implying that the parent trigger law should also die.”
If the API is repealed without a replacement measure for parent trigger, Romero tells Walters, a lawsuit would be the next step, which would not be unusual. He notes that “… school reform and civil rights groups have often sued, usually successfully, in their battles with the establishment over accountability and other flashpoint issues.”