Clueless July 21, 2010Posted by Dwight Furrow in Dwight Furrow's Posts, Education, politics.
Tags: Arnold Schwarzenegger, California Education
Last week, a coalition of civil rights organizations, students and parents filed a lawsuit charging California with an unconstitutional failure to provide adequate education for its K-12 students.
Meanwhile, the California Budget Project’s report on the state of our schools asserted that California’s school spending per pupil is near the bottom when compared to other states; it is last in school spending as a percentage of personal income;and last in the number teachers, counselors, librarians, and administrators per student.
So what is Arnold Schwartzenegger’s solution. As reported by Peter Schrag:
A few days before, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had offered his contribution to improving the schools. As one way to streamline the state bureaucracy, he suggested, eliminate the post of the elected superintendent of schools. (Yes, it’s ironic, but it’s true).
“In California we elect a Superintendent of Public Instruction,” he said. “But why? We already have a Secretary of Education and a Board of Education. Why do we need a Superintendent of Education?”
That is it? That solves the problem of underfunding education?
As Schrag points out, Arnold is just not serious.
It’s not a new idea, in fact it’s antique, a staple of constitutional reformers for the past two decades. We have a stupid, convoluted system with an elected superintendent supposed to administrator policies established by a board appointed by the governor. And of course it’s the governor who, as much as anyone, controls the budget.
So the problem isn’t with the superintendant who has little independent power and little control over the budget.
Schwarzenegger does have a secretary of education – in fact he’s had many, too many to count, a revolving door of secretaries — but he hardly notices them. If there are any Throttlebottoms in his administration, the secretaries of education are among the leading candidates.
And Schrag goes on to shred California politicians for their negligence:
It’s hard to decide what’s most deplorable in this picture. Is it the additional hardships and disadvantages imposed on the state’s poorest kids, who have long been consigned to the poorest schools and, in a disproportionate number of cases, to the weakest teachers, and sometimes to no regular teachers at all?
Is it the fact that even the state’s white, middle-class students achieve lower scores on national tests than their peers in other states? Is it the fact that California’s college graduation rates are low in a nation whose own graduation rates have been steadily falling behind those of our economic competitors?
Or is it the short-sightedness of state policy where almost no one has the courage to point out that our overall tax burden compared to other states is about average, and that contrary to myth, our great periods of economic growth coincided with higher taxes?
Of course Arnold is on his way out. What is Meg Whitman’s solution? More mass layoffs of public employees and further massive cuts to public services.
Yup. That will solve it.
For political commentary by Dwight Furrow visit: www.revivingliberalism.com