Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari is unapologetic about a campaign ad that equates Gov. Jerry Brown's decision to fight a controversial June court decision over teacher seniority with letting California schoolchildren drown.
KQED California Politics & Government Desk Senior Editor John Myers spoke with Kashkari during a half-hour interview on KQED's Forum. Myers asked Kashkari about the ad -- which features Kashkari pulling a struggling boy from a swimming pool -- and about what motivated it. Part of Kashkari's response:
Here's the thing: Kids in California -- our schools are ranked 46th -- kids sued the governor and are begging him for a chance at a good education. Governor Brown is fighting them in court. They asked him for a rescue, and he not only said no, he's fighting them. So you're right, I wanted the most powerful image I could to let people know about Jerry Brown's betrayal. What's more shocking -- a 30-second television ad or the fact the governor of California is fighting kids in court who've asked him for a good education?
Myers pointed out that the issue Kashkari is alluding to in the ad is teacher tenure. He asked the candidate, "Do you support any kind of teacher tenure, or would you wipe teacher tenure off the books?" Kashkari replied:
I'm open-minded, but I know the system we have today is broken. And it wasn't just tenure, it was the fact that right now in our system, if they have to let teachers go, it's just based on who was hired most recently. There could be a terrific young teacher who just got hired last year, and they let that teacher go who's doing a great job, not someone who's been there 20 years and may not be doing as good a job.
And so this case forced Jerry Brown to pick sides -- side with the kids or side with the teachers' unions who funded his political career. He betrayed the kids and he's backing the unions, and I want to make sure everyone in California understands what he's done.
For the record, the Sacramento Bee fact-checked Kashkari's ad (though not the other statements he makes here, obviously). The Bee's verdict: The ad is somewhat misleading.