The Silicon Valley entrepreneur who unsuccessfully took on teacher tenure in court is now supporting a constitutional amendment aimed at requiring California to provide “high-quality” public education for all students.
The effort expressly takes aim at state laws, policies and regulations that “interfere with a right to a high-quality education.” It also says that the proposed remedies “shall not include new mandates for taxes or spending,” a strategy that some say will limit the options to provide a “high-quality” education, should voters support the amendment in November 2022.
David Welch, who underwrote the Vergara v. the State of California and the California Teachers Association litigation in 2012, is among those proposing the Constitutional Right to a High Quality Public Education Act, which they submitted on Thursday to the California Attorney General.
Once the initiative receives a title and summary, backers would begin gathering signatures for what would likely be a new front in the battle between the 310,000 member California Teachers Association and wealthy school reform advocates who want to again pursue changes through the courts that they’ve been unable to persuade a union-friendly Legislature to make. Mike Trujillo, spokesman for the initiative, said the backers are confident they will have funding for a successful campaign.
Next year’s election is poised to be expensive and contentious. Advocates of school vouchers also have proposed two initiatives that are awaiting the approval from the attorney general to start gathering signatures. They would give parents funding to attend the private or public school of their choice. (Go here and here to read them.) The CTA spent tens of millions of dollars to handily defeat the last voucher initiative, in 2000.
The current wording of the Constitution guarantees Californians only a free public education. The Legislature and the courts would have to define what constitutes “high quality.” But adding that phrase as a constitutional right would “finally empower public school parents with a seat at the table” to advocate for students, the proponents said in a statement preceding the amendment.