Andrew Klavan has a post on the recent passing of teacher Jaime Escalante - of Stand and Deliver fame - which dovetails well into my comments about the documentary "The Cartel" the other day. Writes Klavan:
At the peak of Escalante’s work at Garfield, his math enrichment program involved over 400 students and produced more kids who passed Advanced Placement calculus than wealthy Beverly Hills High. He achieved this truly mind-boggling feat despite constant opposition from guess which formidable source. If you guessed evil right-wing racists, congratulations, you have the chief qualification to become a New York Times columnist: a distorted sense of reality. Because the true answer of course is: that untouchable mainstay of the Democratic Party, the teachers union.Can't be having no flowers blooming on an asphalt plantation. It works out just fine for the teachers though. And for the left more generally, as there's a steady supply of campaign assistance from the union and of votes, courtesy of the poor they help keep that way out of a perverse blend of malevolence, racism and stupidity. Yet somehow, in spite of this, there are still conservatives who cower in fear when these disgusting cretins use phantom accusations of racism as an all-purpose weapon and shield.
The union opposed Escalante’s classes at the beginning when they were smaller than union rules allowed and at their peak when they became larger. There were complaints he came to work too early and left too late, and gripes about his high standards and tough discipline. “If you looked into what is going on in this school in the name of the union,” Escalante wrote the union president in 1990, “I think… you would be appalled.” Escalante was able to triumph over this opposition because his success had made him famous and because he had the support of another hero, Garfield principal Henry Gradillas.
But Gradillas had made an enemy of the union too and, in 1988, after he took a year-long sabbatical, he was reassigned to a position supervising asbestos removal. Unprotected by the administration, Escalante was harried and demoted until, disgusted, he finally left the school in 1991. A new teacher tried to continue his program but the union, backed by the new principal, chased him out with constraints and restrictions within a year. By 1996, only 11 Garfield students passed the AP exam, down from a high of 85.