California has already received more than $5 billion in federal education bailout funds, compliments of the American taxpayer. Another $2 billion is on its way this fall. Last month during a visit to San Francisco, Education Secretary Arne Duncan asked whether California was going to lead the way or retreat in K-12 education reform. Duncan was referring to the $4.35 billion in “Race to the Top” state incentive funding for groundbreaking reforms, including data collection about teacher performance and preparation. You know the situation’s grim when the Los Angeles Times editorializes, “We are so far from that in California. Here, it is considered revolutionary for a school board to beg for relief from a tortuous, money-wasting teacher termination process that is nearly doomed to failure anyway.” Even if California’s 1,000 or so school districts spend just half of what the Los Angeles Unified School District spends ($10 million) to house teachers accused of criminal acts-never mind poor teaching-the state would be still wasting more than the entire Race-to-the-Top pot. Contrast this practice with the policy of the country’s largest teacher’s union, the National Education Association. As Mike Antonucci reports, the NEA’s contract with its largest staff union stipulates that causes for immediate termination includes habitual intoxication, theft, willful falsification of official documents, sale or distribution of a controlled substance, and aggravated sexual harassment, among others. “Nothing is more important than getting great teachers into our classrooms and great principals into our schools,” Secretary Duncan told the National Governors’ Association . But states like California, “actually have laws creating a firewall between teacher evaluation and student achievement. This isn’t fair to kids or to teachers. Worse yet, it’s not honest.” So two cheers for Secretary Duncan-and a full three cheers when he reconsiders letting parents act on such information and helps them send their children to schools they think are best, like the one Secretary Duncan attended or his daughter attends.