The Los Angeles Times on April 27 endorsed Larry Aceves for State Superintendent of Public Instruction…I did so on SJI in a post dated August 25, 2009…more on this later.
Sometimes when I read the blog responses to my weekly post I feel like my opinion on educational funding issues is in the smallest of minorities. Sometimes I wonder if I am a lone voice in the wilderness. I was quite heartened when I recently read the results of a new survey by the Public Policy Institute of California funded by William and Flora Hewlett Foundation that places my opinion with most of my fellow Californians. I now feel vindicated, but so what?
According to the PPIC report issued on April 28, 2010, “most Californians (62 percent) believe there is not enough state funding going to their public schools, a 12 point increase since April 2009. A similar majority (62 percent) say they are very concerned the state’s budget gap will cause significant spending cuts in K-12 education.”
The massive, ever-expanding blob of oil floating around in the currents of the Gulf of Mexico is an epic man-made ecological disaster. It will wreak havoc to the tourism, shrimping and commercial fishing industries, not to mention all the wildlife in the Gulf for years to come. This geographic area has barely survived the ravages of Mother Nature, however this time the crisis was caused by man. One lesson this disaster teaches us is that man-made disasters can be prevented, unlike earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters. Now we have the numbers (62 percent) to do something to prevent this pending horrific educational disaster, but do we have the leaders?
One colossal man-made disaster we have the ability to prevent concerns the largest K-12 public education system in America. California has 6.3 million students in 1,043 districts and 9,898 public schools. (I agree with those of you who write that we have too many districts and concur with you that we can save money through consolidation and the economy of scale.) The man-made disaster we must prevent is the precipitous decline of public funding per student in a system near or at the bottom of funding in all 50 states. I am very glad this opinion is shared by so many of my fellow citizens of this once great state.
The 2008-11 funding crisis to California’s public schools and its children will take our state a very long time from which to recover; much longer than the Gulf clean-up of the sticky crude oil which will wash to shore soon. “At a time when Californians are looking for reforms that will improve student achievement, more Californians are seeing the direct effect of the state’s budget problems on children, teachers, and resources in their local schools,” says Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO. “They expect better results from their leaders in Sacramento and Washington,” asserted Mr. Baldassare.
I agree with Mark. We need leaders at the top of the pyramid that will be bold enough to lead us out of this abyss we have created. To become a great state again we need to offer an expanded curriculum for every child K-12 replete with social studies, civics, art, music, foreign language, sports, physical education, career technical education and of course science, math, and English. We need children educated who can think critically and problem solve, not just successfully fill in bubbles on a state testing form. We must have the very best teachers in our classrooms with clean, safe, and orderly communities of students. Uniforms should be required, hard work rewarded, and parent involvement encouraged.
The Los Angeles Times editorial board in their endorsement titled A Common-Sense Educator writes that Larry Aceves would be a breadth of fresh air as state superintendent of public instruction. “…retired superintendent Larry Aceves strikes us as best suited to manage the state’s large education bureaucracy and to bring reason and optimism to schools that have been torn apart by shrinking budgets over whether and how much they should be punished for falling short of achievement goals”. You can read the entire editorial at http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-ed-supe.
Here are the leaders I will place my trust in for working on diverting us from this unprecedented man-made disaster with the precipitous decline of funding for public education:
Jerry Brown for Governor
Gavin Newsom for Lt. Governor
Larry Aceves for State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Even though this grouping is just representative of the executive branch, their focused leadership on the largest spending category in the state budget, education, could lead us to a new consensus with the legislature. It is with strong visionary leadership at the executive level that we can possibly get to a 2/3 majority of the legislature on enacting new revenue sources for K-12 public education while reviving our once great institutions of higher education. The increased funding will need to be tied to many of the planks on Aceves’ platform for running.
Averting this man-made disaster must be our highest priority today, tomorrow, and forever more. There is no more important government function than the education of all children to a level where they can lead productive and happy lives.