The politics behind Prop. 75

Wick Humble is a Kindergarten teacher at Hooker Oak Elementary School

It is no surprise that Gov. Schwarzenegger would endorse Proposition 75; it has been widely noted in the media that it, along with Props. 74 and 76, was launched at the instigation of his administration. Thus, that a politician whose approval rating is sliding would choose to announce his support of these long-discredited strategies at a gathering constituted of only his party faithful makes political sense.

Despite the strong partisan spin he puts on it, surely no one could credit that the entire roll call of California’s teachers is solely Democratic! Currently, approximately 54 percent are Republican, and I suspect that is more-or-less typical for the state.

It is truly hard to believe, however, that those considerable numbers of educated and aware Republicans, my colleagues, would not be fully aware that the professional organization they belong to would not take positions at times in honest opposition to whatever political party is in the state house, or would not have a serviceable mechanism for them to “opt out” of that association’s using any part of their dues money for campaigns, advertisements, or lobbying at the state level that was unsupportable by them.

Any California Teachers Association member who does not wish to contribute to any position that the organization chooses (through democratic process) to advocate may permanently withdraw those dues by simply notifying the leadership. As it is, I believe that the vast majority of teachers in our area, as well as in the state, do indeed support the positions of CUTA/CTA in issues involving students, teachers, and public schools. This concern crosses party lines with the greatest of ease. Why? Because some issues are just too important to smudge with labels like “liberal” or “conservative,” much less “Republican” or “Democrat.”

Arnold would like to characterize public employee organizations as simple, ignorant rank-and-file who have nothing in common with and little input into their leadership. CTA—as with organizations representing California’s police, fire fighters and nurses—is not run by racketeers or professional politicos; CTA is directed by our fellow teachers elected by free vote. If the majority of the membership decrees against their policies, they step down. Period.

I’m not surprised that he is making hit-advertisements for Propositions 74, 75, 76 and 77 on the tube. No, what is really surprising to me is that regarding 75, the governor might actually believe that imposing yet another and more cumbersome layer of annual bureaucratic paperwork upon us would be perceived by anyone as a step toward “protecting our paychecks,” as opposed to merely being a lethal weapon in his “ongoing battle” with the folks who work hard for California’s children!