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Clueless July 21, 2010

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Dwight Furrow's Posts, Education, politics.
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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.

book-section-book-cover2 Dwight Furrow is author of

Reviving the Left: The Need to Restore Liberal Values in America

For political commentary by Dwight Furrow visit: www.revivingliberalism.com



1. Paul J. Moloney - July 22, 2010

As regards Arnold, apparently the people in his parish, Saint Monica’s in Santa Monica, are not praying hard enough for him, or Saint Monica’s is a Republican parish. If that is the case, I will have to pray to forgive the Republicans in the Church. One does have to wonder if the Catholic Church has so many problems because it is managed by Republicans. Talk about separation between church and state!

It is my understanding that Meg has the intention of running the state like a business, which means that she is saying the State of California is the same as a business, which it is not. To say the least, this seems to be an immature notion concerning humanity, namely, the people of California. Being able to make a profit is not the same as being a good politician. Does it mean that we are all to work for Meg in order to help her make a profit at our expense? It is usually not the case that people make a profit by treating others well. I have not heard that she is planning to make a profit for California, though someone is intended for the profit, which could be other business people. Actually, it is hard to argue against someone’s idea of running a state like a business because it is impossible to determine what it means. The concept is vague, even though everyone knows what profit means. The idea of profit does seem appealing unless the profit is made at your expense. Also, how do you help the people of California by hurting them? People who lose their jobs unnecessarily and people deprived of necessary social services are the people of California.

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