Debra J. Saunders

Here's the latest outrage that shows why California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is right to push for legislative redistricting to instill some healthy fear in arrogant Sacramento legislators.

 This sordid tale starts with Reed Hastings, the Silicon Valley entrepreneur who founded Netflix and was appointed to the California State Board of Education by Gov. Gray Davis. Schwarzenegger reappointed Hastings, a Democrat, because he has been a highly effective champion of needed school reforms, with a concentration on pushing strong reading skills.

 In fact, Hastings has been so effective that a rump of left-leaning Democrats have targeted him for elimination. On Wednesday, the Senate Rules Committee is slated to vote on his reappointment. Word is that the committee instead will can Hastings.

 Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata was rather open last week when he told the San Francisco Chronicle that Hastings was a good man and a solid appointee, but the Dems were going to tar and feather him anyway. "He's a man who has put his money with his principles," Perata said. "He's done education a great service in California. There just seems to be a confluence of factors that don't have anything to do with Reed Hastings or his qualifications that make his confirmation highly unlikely at this time."

 A confluence of factors? You'd think Perata was watching a downpour when, in fact, he heads the Rules Committee and is poised to not vote for Hastings -- thus denying him the three votes needed to bring Hastings' confirmation before the full Senate -- even though Perata knows that Hastings has been good for California schools.

 (The offices of Perata and fellow Democrats Debra Bowen (Redondo Beach) and Gil Cedillo (Los Angeles) would not comment Monday on Hastings.)

 Perata is supposed to be a leader, but if he votes no, he will be doing the dirty work of state Sen. Martha Escutia, D-Norwalk. Escutia opposes Hastings because he, like a majority of California voters, supports Proposition 227, the 1998 measure that replaced bilingual education with primary instruction in English. As Escutia sees it, Hastings has shortchanged students in bilingual programs. Hastings persuaded the Board of Education to withhold federal reading funds from classrooms that failed to teach in English two and one-half hours a day. As Hastings sees it, immigrant children lose when their bilingual classes are short on English instruction.

Debra J. Saunders

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