Brown struggles to hit education stride

Brown struggles to hit education stride

brown educationWith education becoming a major state issue just in time for the election, Gov. Jerry Brown has found himself in an uncharacteristic position. The often unflappable governor, who has prided himself on following the beat of his own drum, has been ensnared in an ongoing debate among Democrats.

At issue: How to recover their footing in the wake of Judge Rolf Treu’s far-reaching ruling in the Vergara case, which found California’s current teacher tenure system to be a violation of students’ constitutional rights.

Although Brown has maintained a strong lead in his bid for reelection against Republican Neel Kashkari, education has become a new focal point in the race. Kashkari, recognizing the issue combines an unusual weakness for Brown with an unusually broad relevance for voters, has hit on the theme repeatedly, taking Brown to task for appealing Treu’s ruling to a higher court.

In a rare opportunity to confront Brown directly in front of television cameras, Kashkari hammered away on education during the recent gubernatorial debate. Brown stumbled, vowing he’d do more if current laws didn’t address problems in the classroom.

Although the tussle may not change the fundamental dynamic of the race, Brown’s frustration has underscored how much the education issue matters to him on the level of personal politics. As a result, actions he has taken will reverberate well beyond November.

A flood of bills

Among a wave of last-minute bills to pass the Legislature and hit his desk, Brown singled out several affecting schools. One bill, which Brown touted in his debate exchange with Kashkari, made it easier to fire teachers implicated in lewd conduct. After vetoing a version he called flawed, Brown signed Assembly Bill 215, put forward by Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo.

Recently, Brown made a point to push his education agenda further. AB1584 and SB1177 will work in tandem to crack down on the misuse of data collected from students, schools and school districts.

AB1584 also was authored by Buchanan. Its aim is to ensure school districts keep ownership of data collected from students by information-gathering companies. It complements SB1177, by state Sen. Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento. That bill bars data companies from profiting off of such information.

Perhaps the most notable reform came courtesy of AB420, by Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento. It will change the way schools can mete out the severest punishment to students. Going forward, as Jurist reported, schools will be prohibited “from suspending students without proving the pupil willfully defied teachers and administrators. The bill specifically eliminates schools’ authority to suspend pupils from kindergarten through third grade and the authority to expel a student from kindergarten through twelfth grade.”

As yet, not much has been made of the political implications of AB420. Brown’s signature on the bill, however, has provided Democrats with an unusual way of appealing to the populist instincts on the rise among parents statewide.

Conservative and libertarian critics of teachers unions frequently have cast blame on school administrations, not just classroom educators. Administrative bureaucracies, they have claimed, are often as meddlesome and arbitrary in a school district as they are in state and federal government.

Parents, for their part, long have cast a skeptical eye at the changing standards by which students are punished. High-profile controversies have repeatedly arisen around student clothing and perceived threats of violence.

The bigger picture

Brown’s efforts to regain the momentum on education have figured into more than a personal mission for restored credibility. Whether he succeeds or fails will color the larger debate surrounding Democrats’ competence and dependability on the issue.

Democrats themselves have become sharply divided in the wake of the Vergara ruling. The race for Superintendent of Public Instruction, officially a nonpartisan contest, has pitted Democrat against Democrat, with incumbent Tom Torlakson facing a stiff challenge from Marshall Tuck.

Their disagreement on Vergara — Torlakson is a staunch union ally — has exacerbated longstanding divisions among prominent Democrats. Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, for instance, supported Tuck, while current Mayor Eric Garcetti sided with Torlakson.

Whatever the results of the election, afterward the intra-party Democratic feud over education will be one of the biggest topics confronting Brown and the new Legislature.


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  1. LetitCollapse
    LetitCollapse 3 October, 2014, 22:34

    Those of you old enough to remember the fall of Saigon surely recall a K-12 public school system in California that the residents could truly take pride in. Naturally, to hide the marked deterioration of the California schools the government has discarded all the comparative standardized test scores that ranked the State nationally. But we were up there with the best of them. Today? Well, today California stands at #47 out of 50 in academic achievement. There is no doubt that the huge upsurge of illegals coming into the State was a huge contributing factor to the decline. At first they tried to blame it on student hunger. (not kidding). They claimed the kids didn’t have the proper nutritious diets required for concentration in school. So they started all the breakfast and lunch programs – and build cafeterias in most schools. Did that help? NOPE! Grades and test scores continued to fall. Then they blamed it on lack of funding and high student to teacher ratios. So there was a new school bond measure every year and mandated funding for K-12 which currently stands at about half the State budget. Did the increased funding help? NOPE! Grades and test scores continued to fall. PLUS, they discontinued really cool shop classes like woodworking, metal shop, automotive shop, home economics (for the girls), etc…. since they had to use all that money to establish all the ESL classes. As Jerry Brown remarked during his debate with CashKari – about 30% of K-12 students are illegal or can’t speak english. lol.

    You know what really cracks me up? As California ranks #47 out of 50 in academic achievement you’d think that the State legislators would come up with legislation that would actually repair the damage done to the academic side of the equation. Instead look at their offerings: Legislation making it easier to fire sexual perverts teaching the children, legislation to crack down on the misuse of data collected from students, schools and school districts, legislation to ease discipline and punishment of disruptive students…..but NOTHING to really specically target improving the academic performance of the kids when they rank 47th in the nation!!! lol. Apparently, they’ve given up on improving the academic achievement scores and have acquiesced to being one of the very crappiest school systems in the entire country! lol. So, instead, they focus on sexually perverted teachers, non-collection of data and to minimize discipline and punishment! lol.

    The K-12 schools that I attended refused to put up with student nonsense. If we screwed around in class or defiantly failed to do our work – in grade school we were sent to the principal’s office who proceeded to swat our behinds with a lilac branch that left welts. When I went home and complained to mom she asked me what I did to deserve it. When I told her I was shooting spitwads through my bic pen in class at my buddies or got caught using cheat notes on a test she’d say “Good, don’t come cryin’ to me”.

    Same in HS. The principal had a ‘hack paddle’ which was a piece of pure brown leather that looked like something a barber would sharpen his razor on. 1st offense – 3 hacks on the butt. 2nd offense – 5 hacks. 3rd offense – 8 hacks. And it happened right out in the hallway in front of everyone who happened to walk by. If class was in session we could hear the hack paddle hitting paydirt down the hallway. You know what? The graduation rate was 100% and 85% of us went on to college and graduated.

    That’s the way you run a school if you want the kids to perform.

    It’s pathetic what they’ve done to K-12 in California. Essentially, they’ve destroyed the educational system with their liberal social engineering. I pity any good parent who doesn’t have the money to send his or her kids to a private school. God help them.

    Reply this comment
  2. Queeg
    Queeg 4 October, 2014, 17:31

    This is so futile and boring.

    Study Birmingham, Alabama public education…….then move on….

    Reply this comment
    • LetitCollapse
      LetitCollapse 4 October, 2014, 21:00

      What’s boring with tracking demographic changes in K-12 and correlating it with national academic achievement rates? I think it’s pretty interesting and we should learn from it.

      Allowing illegal foreigners to break into our country and then enroll in our public school system at the taxpayer’s expense is a very serious concern. If anybody would have the guts to poll the American taxpayers and ask them: ‘Do you support the government using your taxdollars to educate foreigners who are illegally in the country?’ there is NO DOUBT that 80% of more of us would answer that question not just “no” but “hell no”.

      This is not a skin color or racial issue like it was in “Birmingham” during the civil rights movement. We’re talking ILLEGAL FOREIGNERS here. It’s a critical matter of national sovereignty. So don’t confuse the two. Even the socialist western Europeans don’t allow such nonsense. They realize that educating millions of indigent foreigners who illegally occupy a nation puts an enormous burden on the taxpayer, degrades the educational system and dilutes rule of law which is the glue that holds civilizations together. Equating modern day illegal immigration with the struggle the blacks went through in the civil rights era is absurd – and an insult to the black community.

      Reply this comment
  3. californianative
    californianative 5 October, 2014, 15:46

    2 thumbs up !! The problem is the affluent of California love their ” pets” from south of the border. I know the schools are crap, but Juan and Jose ( my cheap gardener and handyman) have to send their kids to school somewhere. Oh well that’s OK, my kids go to private school….

    Reply this comment
    • LetitCollapse
      LetitCollapse 5 October, 2014, 17:34

      CN, all of them know full well that there is a DIRECT CORRELATION between the surge in enrollment of ‘english second language’ students in K-12 and California’s sharp decline in student academic achievement rankings. Jerry Brown himself admitted in his last election debate that 30% of California K-12 students are illegal or can’t speak english. But NONE in the media will report the obvious. That’s what really fries me. IMO omitting the truth in public news reports equates to a lie. And if they can lie about the damage caused by illegal immigration – they can lie about practically anything.

      One of the inherent factors or indicators of a civilized society is the health of their primary educational system. In California the bottom has fallen out. That is the reason the State has concealed all the K-12 academic performance comparisons prior to 1992. You won’t be able to find them. IT IS TO HIDE THE TRUTH. But they can’t erase my memory. At least not yet. I vividly recall when California had one of the best K-12 programs in the nation and did it with a significantly less percent of the State budget than they have today.

      Plus, they stole all the occupational shops from K-12 – woodworking, auto shop, metal shop, home econ, etc… from the schools because they needed the money for their ESL programs. And those occupational shops kept a certain percentage of the students in school – the ones who did not have a strong interest in the conventional academic program. And those occupational shops provided PRACTICAL AND HANDS-ON training that a kid could use for the rest of his life!!! And they were sacrificed for the ESL classes!!!! 🙁

      Reply this comment
  4. LetitCollapse
    LetitCollapse 5 October, 2014, 23:22

    I just read that over 60 million families living in the US speak a language other than english at home! lol.

    That’s about 1 of every 5 families!

    We are so screwed!

    Reply this comment
    • LetitCollapse
      LetitCollapse 5 October, 2014, 23:27

      Correction to the above comment.

      It’s not over 60 million families. It’s precisely 61.8 million RESIDENTS who live in the US speak a language other than english at home.

      So that’s about 1 of every 5 residents.

      The American culture is in the process of being destroyed.

      Scary, eh?

      Reply this comment
  5. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 6 October, 2014, 10:31

    Doomers it’s over. Learn Espanol…..enjoy your breakfast burrito and lunch chalupa or

    Thank goodness they can’t read your stuff!

    Reply this comment
  6. LetitCollapse
    LetitCollapse 6 October, 2014, 12:56

    The mainstream news reported that 1 out of every 2 K-12 students in California (that’s 50% for those of you who are math challenged) speak a language other than english at home! lol.

    Anybody who doesn’t have a problem with that should renounce his or her citizenship.

    Reply this comment

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