Patricia Rucker, Teachers Union Lobbyist and California Board of Education Member, Accused of Conflict of Interest
One of the first things Governor Jerry Brown did upon taking the wand from Schwarzenegger -- aside from woo the people on a Southwest flight -- was sweep out the Governator's entire State Board of Education, a full house of radical reformists and stakeholders in the burgeoning charter-school business (pretty much the same thing).
Brown's replacement picks drew immediate ire from said new-schoolers. Especially from the staff and supporters of non-profit org Parent Revolution -- who was, at the time, trying to seize an elementary school in Compton from the failing district through a "Parent Trigger" law passed under Schwarzenegger. The regulations for the Trigger had yet to be approved by the board, and Revolution-ers were scared the new blood might stand in the way of their bold efforts.
However, despite their fears, Brown's board has since proven itself to be excellently bipartisan, if you will. Save for one member: California Teachers Association lobbyist (er, "legislative advocate") Patricia Rucker.
Don't get us wrong. Rucker is an extremely smart woman and, in her time with the teachers' union, has funneled her energy into progressive efforts like teacher training instead of election campaigns and the highly political resistance to any sort of change that has given the CTA its notoriety.
But her actions over the last few months, in regard to the under-construction Trigger regulations, have been questionable, to say the least.
When the new board's first draft of Trigger regulations went up for public comment, it included a new stipulation: that teachers be given the right to veto any effort by parents to seize their children's school.
Which would, of course, undermine the entire purpose of the Trigger, as teachers have an obvious investment in keeping their jobs.
Though that gem has since been removed from the working draft, four California parents -- Lydia Grant, Bruce Wasson, Monica Jones, and Carolynn Martin -- have decided Rucker needs to go. As of today, via email and snail mail, Grant says she has filed a "conflict of interest" complaint against Rucker with the state's Fair Political Practices Commission.
Linda Serrato, spokeswoman for Parent Revolution, says the filers aren't directly tied to the Compton operation, but "they've been involved for quite some time on the outskirts."
Like the Revolution staff, they're all regulars at Board of Education meetings. In April, Martin even stood up and asked the board's lawyers if Rucker needed to recuse herself from the discussion, given her teacherly ties. (The lawyers decided not to comment.)
The next meeting on the regulations will take place July 13. But time is running out.
Parent Revolution is worried that, if Rucker keeps "dirtying the water" -- aka, swaying fellow board members -- the regulations won't be done by their October deadline, and the board will be forced to start over completely.
Which would definitely get in the way of the next round of charter-school takeovers they're clearly planning for more failing California schools (Compton 2.0!). Education reform, after all, pays their bills -- just like the teachers union pays Rucker's.
We've contacted the accused for comment.
Get the Weekly Newsletter
Our weekly feature stories, movie reviews, calendar picks and more - minus the newsprint and sent directly to your inbox.