When teachers are accused of sexual misconduct with a student, an independent arbitrator decides their fate. But that system is biased toward suspending or fining sexual predators rather than firing them, Campbell Brown writes.
Campbell Brown, the former CNN and NBC reporter and anchor, writes in the Wall Street Journal:
…In the last five years in New York City, 97 tenured teachers or school employees have been charged by the Department of Education with sexual misconduct. Among the charges substantiated by the city's special commissioner of investigation—that is, found to have sufficient merit that an arbitrator's full examination was justified—in the 2011-12 school year:
• An assistant principal at a Brooklyn high school made explicit sexual remarks to three different girls, including asking one of them if she would perform oral sex on him.
• A teacher in Queens had a sexual relationship with a 13-year old girl and sent her inappropriate messages through email and Facebook.
If this kind of behavior were happening in any adult workplace in America, there would be zero tolerance. Yet our public school children are defenseless.
Here's why. Under current New York law, an accusation is first vetted by an independent investigator. (In New York City, that's the special commissioner of investigation; elsewhere in the state, it can be an independent law firm or the local school superintendent.) Then the case goes before an employment arbitrator. The local teachers union and school district together choose the arbitrators, who in turn are paid up to $1,400 per day. And therein lies the problem.
For many arbitrators, their livelihood depends on pleasing the unions (whether the United Federation of Teachers in New York City, or other local unions). And the unions—believing that they are helping the cause of teachers by being weak on sexual predators—prefer suspensions and fines, and not dismissal, for teachers charged with inappropriate sexual conduct. The effects of this policy are mounting.…
How accurate Brown's claims are, I don't know. But I do know she is married to neocon Dan Senor, who is a foreign policy adviser to Mitt Romney. Senor is an economic conservative, a hawk and, if I recall correctly, very anti-union. He's also never really seen anything Israel's craven Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has done that he didn't like – and that's frightening because Netanyahu is one of the most disliked major politicians in Israel,not just by the left and center, but by many other Likud politicians, as well. He holds power because he's very shrewd and deceitful, not because he's well liked.
At any rate, you can't judge a person by who he or she is married to.
But from my limited exposure to Brown through her appearances on news talk shows, combined with who she is married to, I'd say you should take her claims with a very large grain of salt.
No doubt cases like the ones she cites in the WSJ actually happen.
But to see if the system works, we have to see what the median result is, what the real statistics are. If two or three bad decisions are made each year along with a 15 or so good ones, is the system irreparably broken? I don't think so. Does it need to be improved? Yes. But it doesn't need to be thrown out and replaced with something completely (or mostly) new.
If the 'bogey man' in this case was Republican politicians, investment bankers or CEOs who earn millions of dollars per year rather than teachers unions, I don't think Brown would have written anything about it. I think she's cravenly using this issue to attack Obama supporters, much the way her husband frequently and disingenuously does with Middle East issues.
Does Campbell Brown care about the children?
But I think she cares much more about defeating Obama.
And that is, I think, how you need to view her piece.