In April of this year, the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) voted to reject proposed changes to a state regulation that, if approved, would have established a way for JROTC instructors to qualify for authorization to teach physical education in their military science and basic military drill classes. Under the proposal, JROTC instructors would have had to either pass a special skills test -- the California Subject Examination for Teachers — or complete an approved subject matter program, but they still would have been exempt from the more extensive academic standards that must be met to obtain a regular PE teaching credential.
After the CTC rejected the proposal, it was reported that Governor Brown was very upset and put pressure on the CTC to reconsider its vote. The commission then voted on June 19 to reverse its earlier decision and amend the regulation to create a special PE teaching authorization for JROTC instructors.
Those who knew of Governor Brown’s history were not surprised by his actions. Years earlier, when he was mayor of Oakland, California, he asked the Oakland school district to approve a charter for a National Guard military academy. The district said no, so Brown went to a state education agency for approval of the charter. And at the June CTC hearing, a student who testified from the California Cadet Corps stated that Brown had once been a Cadet Corps member. Since all members of the CTC, except one, are appointees of the governor, Brown had considerable power to impose his personal feelings about the issue and, thus, engineer a second vote by the commission.
Before the June 19 meeting, CTC received hundreds of letters and messages about the proposed JROTC/PE teaching authorization. The breakdown was:
2 organizational opinions
1 personal opinion
6 organizational opinions
829 personal opinions
Total Responses: 3 in support, 835 opposed.
At the hearing, testimony against the proposal was given by a dozen education and health experts and teacher union representatives. Supportive statements were given by members of the California Cadet Corps and JROTC. After the speakers, there was almost no discussion among the commissioners, and opponents sensed the predetermined nature of the vote.
Some of the teacher and other professional organizations that opposed the proposal are now formulating plans to delay or block implementation of the new authorization. One step that has already been taken is to appeal to the state Office of Administrative Law, which oversees the rule-making process in California.
The new regulation may have a consequence that was unintended by advocates of JROTC: school districts that have already been granting students PE credit for JROTC may now decide that the credit will be applied only if a school’s JROTC staff first obtain the special PE teaching authorization. This would require them to either pass the California Subject Examination for Teachers or complete a special subject matter program, which would impose a new qualifying hurdle for the instructors. It would not require as much from them as the standards for obtaining a full PE credential, but it is an additional step that has not been required in the past and, therefore, may complicate some of the instructors’ jobs.
This article is from Draft NOtices, the newsletter of the Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft (http://www.comdsd.org/)