Where are the bold and courageous leaders that give us the facts and inspire us to new heights? In Attorney General Brown’s website announcement on his candidacy for Governor he says he will speak the truth, yet his three-minute commercial is filled with the platitudes he says he abhors.
We are quickly closing in on the 100-day mark prior to the most important state election day in our lives. The Great State of California is experiencing imminent decline and degradation in most of its systems, particularly in public education. Does anyone really care?
The K-16 system of public education accounts for 50 percent-plus of this state’s total budget. The two major candidates for governor, Brown and Meg Whitman, are only speaking in the most general of terms about their views on the most critical issue for our future, K-16 education.
Unlike Whitman, I have participated as a voter in every primary and general election day since my 21st birthday. To me her lack of participation in this democracy should be a disqualifier to hold elected office. Yet, I am more impressed by her website on her views on public education than I am with Jerry Brown’s.
I must say I am very disappointed in both of the two major party candidates. I reviewed the official websites for Brown and Whitman and learned very little about their key positions on the issues that plague our public schools. However, to Whitman’s credit she lists a three-page plan out of her 48-page downloadable PDF on her policy agenda for a new California. (If K-16 education makes up mor ethan half of the California budget, should not the policy agenda be at least 24 pages on an education plan?)
Whitman says, “California’s long-term economic viability and competitiveness is directly connected to the quality of the educational system in our state. The state that is home to Silicon Valley is 43rd in science. That’s unacceptable.”
I agree, Meg. But your four-part specific plan on pages 31-33 is fraught with danger: 1. Reward outstanding teachers, 2. Eliminate the cap on charter schools, 3. Grade the public schools A-F, and 4. Establish a fast-track parent process for charter school conversion. Other than rewarding outstanding teachers your plan is disastrously near-sighted. Yet, I thank you for expressing your thoughts so as a voter I can become educated on a reason to cast my vote.
On the other hand Brown does not have one word about public education on his website, with the exception of a July 19 posting from his campaign titled, “Whitman Gets An “F” For Education Ad”. Jerry, I have endorsed your candidacy for governor, however I am disheartened at your lack of clarity about what you would do increase student achievement across the board. What grade would you give yourself? For me it is F as of his writing.
I urge you to put out a comprehensive plan on public education K-16. Please be transparent. I would like to see a prime-time debate on K-16 education. I want to see the two of you answer some of the following questions:
What policies/legislation will you recommend to eliminate the achievement gap as governor?
What policies/legislation will you endorse to significantly reduce the dropout rate that is above 40 percent for African-Americans and Latinos?
What do you believe about quality pre-school education? Head Start? Early Head Start? Mothers’ prenatal education and care?
Mr. Brown: In a Sacramento Bee interview, I heard you say the human issue of motivation is one of the main issues. You propose courses in carpentry, electrical work, and plumbing. I agree with career technical education expansion, but how will you fund it?
Both of you say something about needing better teachers. What would you do to increase the supply of high quality K-12 teachers?
How important is the role of reading on grade level for life success? What would you do to make certain all 3rd graders read on grade level by the end of their 3rd grade?
In her book “The Death and Life of the Great American School System,” Diane Ravitch, the former assistant secretary of education, writes that she now believes testing and choice are undermining our education system. What would you do to prevent a two-tier system of public education that Ms. Ravitch believes is occurring with the choice and charter school movement?
What would you do to decrease the rising cost of public university education?
What would you do to raise the level of spending per student to at least the national average?
Ms. Whitman you say that more money should go directly into classrooms. How do you plan on achieving this goal?
Attorney General Brown, you state that more money is needed for our schools. How much more money and where will those funds come from?
What questions would SJI bloggers like to see in a debate between these two candidates?
I am mad as hell. We need elected leaders who tell us expressly where they stand on the key issues. We need journalists that will ask the tough questions on our behalf.
November 2 is our last chance for the next four years to have our voices heard about the most important issue of our day, K-16 education. Our changing demographics make the choice do or die.