By Ben Velderman
CARSON CITY, Nev. – Last year, Democratic Assembly Speaker John Oceguera helped pass a new law requiring that tenured teachers who receive two consecutive unsatisfactory evaluations be returned to probationary status.
Probationary teachers are typically mentored and given special assistance to help them improve their classroom performance. They are only fired if they fail to show improvements after a given amount of time. That’s hardly a radical, anti-teacher measure. Most people would consider it common sense to demand improvement from ineffective teachers, but not the leaders of Nevada’s largest teachers union.
Nevada State Education Association leaders are refusing to endorse Oceguera’s bid for re-election this fall, citing his sponsorship of the teacher tenure reform law, according to the Las Vegas Sun.
NSEA President Lynn Warne said Oceguera’s bill “struck at the heart of what are labor rights, teachers’ rights,” the Sun reports.
In other words, NSEA will withhold financial contributions and volunteer workers from Oceguera’s campaign, because he dared support an education reform law that’s as bland and inoffensive as a bowl of Malt-O-Meal.
Taxpayers should be wondering just how petty – and politically radical – their teacher unions have become.
Even though a spokesman says the Assembly Speaker is “a strong supporter of teachers and the investment in education,” Oceguera cannot be surprised by the teacher union’s decision.
One of his Democratic colleagues, Assemblyman Tick Segerblom, memorably articulated the co-dependent relationship that exists between the Democratic Party and the teacher unions.
“If we piss off the teachers, then we are a defunct party. They are out backbone,” Segerblom said during last year’s education reform debate, according to the Sun.
If Oceguera loses his seat in November, it will send a very clear message to other Democratic lawmakers: Represent the interests of students and parents at your own risk.