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Hard Bargaining

Gov. Gray Davis of California is at odds with the state's largest teachers' union over a bill that would give its members more say in the critical classroom issues of curriculum, textbooks, facilities, and training.

School boards and administrators say the bill to expand bargaining to include those issues would tie their hands and stifle new policies. Gov. Davis has disappointed union leaders by opposing the measure.

Assembly Bill 2160 is sponsored by Los Angeles Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg, a Democrat, at the request of the powerful California Teachers' Association, the state's 330,000-member affiliate of the National Education Association.

The measure is set to go before the Assembly education committee this week. It would expand collective bargaining rights to let teachers negotiate for power in issues usually decided by school boards.

Last week, Barbara E. Kerr, a CTA vice president, testified at the bill's first committee hearing that the measure would give teachers "a truly professional role in decisions affecting student learning and teaching."

Gov. Gray Davis

But the foes of AB 2160 argue that it's deceptive and would give too much power to the union at the expense of local officials.

During a question-and-answer session with reporters, Gov. Davis said he would not sign the current version of the measure, if it reached his desk. "I don't want textbooks to be held hostage to issues involving wages," the governor, a Democrat backed by the union in the past, said April 10. "We want textbooks in the hands of kids; we don't want them to be held up for any reason." Mr. Davis wants to give teachers an advisory role in selecting textbooks, a spokesman said.

CTA President Wayne Johnson said the union would work with the governor. "It's been very revealing to teachers what school boards and administrators think of their participation," he remarked.

—Joetta L. Sack

Vol. 21, Issue 32, Page 28

Published in Print: April 24, 2002, as State Journal

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