This opinion piece first appeared in Voice of San Diego and is re-posted with permission of the author.
Our system of education is antiquated and dysfunctional. The business community should fund internships for our students. So declare City Council President Tony Young and Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher after their seven month education listening tour. Fletcher further adding that he will work to build 21st century schools, promote career technical education (CTE), reform education budgets and reform curriculum testing. Gee, why does that all sound so familiar? Perhaps because in 2007, the governor’s Committee on Education Excellence compiled a 44-page proposal for bold, coherent, systemic reform of structures in our education system, including governance, finance, teachers and administrators. The report was the culmination of two years worth of more than 20 independent studies known as “Getting Down to Facts.”
The report concluded that its implementation would require “uncommon courage” from our political leaders in the state legislature, the predominant source of education funding in California. “Uncommon courage” has proven nonexistent among our legislative representatives. All 28 Republican assembly members, including Nathan Fletcher, have signed and abided by the Grover Norquist anti-tax pledge and almost all Republican state senators have signed the pledge, creating gridlock in our state capital that has led to Faustian bargains and draconian cuts to education and other services to children and families. The report also stated, “Everyone professes to put students first. But collectively, the results suggest otherwise.” Instead of reinventing the wheel, I would recommend that Council President Young and Assemblyman Fletcher contact our local retired state Senator Dede Alpert who served as vice chair of the governor’s Committee on Education Excellence.
With regard to 21st century education and CTE, I’d like to refer both representatives to AB 2648 — Multiple Pathways to Student Success, an assembly bill signed into law January 2009. This bill, sponsored by former Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, integrates core curriculum, career technical, work based learning, and student support services.
With regard to reforming curriculum testing, perhaps Fletcher and Young are not aware of the newly adopted Common Core Standards, a 48-state nationwide effort to overhaul and streamline curriculums that emphasizes students’ ability to analyze and apply knowledge, and will include midyear performance based testing.
All of these reforms are gathering dust or will be delayed due to our state legislators’ unwillingness to appropriate the necessary funding for education. Speaking of which, it seems disingenuous that Assemblyman Fletcher is claiming to support a quality public education when he has voted against extending revenues for schools, voted against a nonbinding resolution to bring education funding up to or beyond the national average “and to a level that accounts for the actual cost of educating California’s students,” and even voted against giving school children access to drinking water during mealtimes.
Kimberley Beatty lives in Sabre Springs. She is vice president of legislation for the Palomar Council PTSA in the Poway Unified School District.