By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Why should California protect either bad teachers or bad police officers?
Dennis Wyatt RGB
Dennis Wyatt

Are bad teachers as bad as bad cops?

It’s a question Californians might get to answer in November 2022 if a proposed initiative makes it to the ballot.

The submitted initiative would allow the use of the courts to go after education policies and regulations such as tenure that litigants believe are harmful to students’ ability to obtain a good education.

Clearly if you define a bad cop only as someone whose actions constitute murder under the authority of the law equating the two is a wild stretch.

But over the past two years of the “Defund the Police” movement built on the assumption that arrest, jail, prosecute, convict, and lock up isn’t really working all that well at preventing crime from recurring it is a legitimate comparison.

Before going any further, the slogan “Defund the Police” based on the activists who first coined it was indeed a catchy phrase to grab attention but it was not only toxic but it didn’t convey what they meant. It was then hijacked and taken literally. The push back after politicians — who always look for the flash in the pan solution instead of investing heavily in long term solutions so they can trend on social media and rack up positive polling numbers — actually cut police funds.

Murder rates and serious crimes skyrocketed in cities that took the phrase literally as did the activists that were more militant enjoined by opportunists.

The battle cry is not to create criminals. And while offenses involving drugs and such are clearly in the radar of being decriminalized as in many cases their use is the only thing that may make someone a criminal, little attention has focused on getting to the root of the problem.

Yes, there are bad seeds. But a lot of criminal behavior and criminal lives take root because of young people not being able to have a fighting chance to succeed in life. And, from the public’s angle, that must include access to a solid education growing up.

It is much easier to score wins and establish a pattern of success early in the game instead of trying to undo what can amount to 13 years of subpar success.

Rest assured the knee-jerk reaction will be to paint this as a witch hunt and/or accurately paint the picture that California schools for the most part are far from a dismal failure contrary to what pundits, politicians with self-serving agendas or the Greek chorus that plies its trade these days on the Internet contend.

The more effective  way to approach the issue would be through the Legislature but that isn’t going all that well given powerful organizations that exist first and foremost to protect members’ jobs are a major force in Sacramento.

The Legislature created roadblocks that make it impossible to seek judicial relief for education injustice that tenure and other laws in more than a few cases simply protects the status quo.

Gov. Newsom and the Legislature enacted several laws this year aimed at clearing the ranks of law enforcement of bad cops by not allowing those dismissed by one agency for serious infractions involving their roles as peace officers to get another job with a police department in the state.

They also enacted laws that are aimed at going forward with law enforcement training is improved to address various deficiencies.

Time will tell whether it works.

There is little doubt there were those who are the rank-and-file that serve and protect as well in the general public that perceived such laws as an attack on law enforcement.

They are not. They are aimed at stepping up the quality of future police officers as well as reinforcing the tens of thousands of honorable men and women who put their lives on the line for the safety and welfare of 40 million fellow Californians are not weighted down by those who have no business being police officers.

It is a calling that requires special people whose actions can impact the lives of others.

Teaching is a vocation that is much of the same.

Bad teachers who are incapable of rising to the challenge do damage just like bad cops do. And it’s just not to the individuals involved. It is damage that ultimately is inflicted on society.

Keep in mind this is not a “good cop, bad cop” or a “good teacher, bad teacher” thing. There are a lot of degrees of both good and bad.

There are bad cops that don’t rise to the level of callously taking another’s life or violating civil rights. Those aren’t the target of the new laws.

And as much as we’d all like to see police officers be perfectly programmed robo-cops who never make an error, in split-second situations can read minds, or never be baited directly or by a situation to do the wrong thing that is not what will ultimately happen.

Instead it is an effort to address the most egregious officers and to work to move law enforcement forward and reduce crime.

It should be the same for education.

In many cases you can argue being exposed to a bad teacher can be a valuable learning experience when countered by interacting with others that fall higher up the scale.

But a system that entrenches the worst of the worst via tenure that gives them protection against all but the most hideous circumstances isn’t any different from allowing a bad cop who fails miserably at law enforcement basics to be terminated and end up being hired by another California agency.

It’s funny but we say we want America to be at its best but when the rubber meets the road we circle the wagons based on our “tribe” or the “tribes” we support.

Someone who believes a civilized society can only be safe with an effective police force does no one favors by pushing back against efforts to clear the ranks of those that take the law into their own hands while wearing a badge.

It is also true that those who believe a solid education is a key to success and helping steer young people from a life of crime and poverty does no kid a favor by blocking efforts to clear classrooms of those that have no business teaching them.

Most do not believe the ranks of law enforcement are overrun with bad cops or that the education system is choked with bad teachers.

But with so much at stake why should the state protect either bad cops or bad teachers regardless of their number?

This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Ceres Courier or 209 Multimedia Corporation.