After Jerry Brown mocked Senate President Darrell Steinberg last fall for pushing the latest “siren song of school reform,” the gov went on to tout local control as a better way than the current emphasis on student testing and teacher accountability. Here and elsewhere, I’ve pointed out the obvious — in effect, if not in words, what Brown wants is tantamount to a return to the old days of how public education operated. Yo, Jerry: K-12 schools way back when were so dysfunctional that it triggered the broad education reform movement that you now consider a trendy failure, including the misfire that is No Child Left Behind. I’ve been waiting …. and waiting … and waiting … for someone else in the media to figure this out. Now someone has, and lordy lordy, it’s former Sac Bee editorial page editor Peter Schrag, one of the most respected establishment voices on education.
The very element that gives Jerry Brown the best chance to sell his tax hike plan — if it doesn’t go through, K-12 students will take a brutal beating — should terrify state educators. Kids are being used as political props in a down-and-dirty effort to raise taxes by any means necessary — but with an electorate that’s usually hostile to tax hikes. Should the education establishment want students to be the human sacrifices if voters don’t buy Jerry’s plan? Of course not. Now Tom Torlakson has finally figured out what’s at risk.
Here’s a sharp Cal Watchdog analysis by one “Chris Reed” of how Orange County’s Chapter 9 bankruptcy was so unique that it doesn’t offer much in the way of lessons for local governments now considering bankruptcy — but that the aftermath of Orange County’s quick recovery from bankruptcy offers painful lessons for voters dumb enough to believe their leaders have a learning curve:
This New Republic essay depressed the hell out of me and shook my assumption a libertarian lite movement could take huge chunks of independent voters turned off by the major parties. Instead, many independents are what author and Dem strategist Ruy Texeira calls “IINOs” — independent in name only:
An otherwise-superb L.A. Times story posted online Saturday — “Salary ‘spiking’ drains public pension funds, analysis finds” – includes this flat assertion: “Government jobs historically have been a tough sell because of the modest salaries they often provide; one incentive for prospective workers was the generous pension that came with being a cop or a county planner.” This is crap. This is 10,000 percent crap. I have lived in California since 1990, and, with the exception of law enforcement, I defy anyone to show me any evidence that any state or local government agency in California has truly struggled to fill a job in that 22-year span.
I was busy bonding with my new phone last week and never got around to writing about the nauseating story that described Gov. Jerry Brown as still a “rock star” on the national political scene. Maybe that holds with the naifs in the D.C. media, but here in California, Brown is far more accurately seen as a crock star. The gov nurses his image as a unique visionary, but the narrative is pure buncombe. Jerry defines his main role in the same way as all other machine Democrats in Sacramento: insulating public employees from budget pain by any means necessary, starting with preserving the absurd K-12 status quo that bases pay on seniority and irrelevant graduate coursework. Did you ever wonder why his tax hike plan is built entirely around the idea that it is crucial to funding public schools? Because teachers are the only public employees left who still have a good image — deserved or not. Now he’s putting down Molly Munger, even though her rival tax-hike-for-schools initiative is actually willing to acknowledge schools need reforming. Brown? His definition of reform is going back to local control — the same horrible arrangement that midwifed No Child Left Behind.
Last week, I wrote the following about the California media’s peculiar media dynamics: