Friday, July 30, 2004

Bad news Friday in California

Looks our movie-star governor is learning some new tricks: releasing controversial news items on Fridays. Here's the latest damage , a complete overhaul of the California school system.
A sweeping plan to give Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger virtually all responsibility for California's public schools has not yet been made public, but it's already being called an outrageous power grab -- and worse.

"It sounds like real crap," said John Vasconcellos, a San Jose Democrat who chairs the Senate Education Committee. "It's part of an effort to have the governor become God."

His acerbic reaction was aimed at education recommendations contained in a new report by the California Performance Review team, which the governor created to streamline government.

The report's chapter on "Education, Training and Volunteerism" says classrooms should focus heavily on preparing students for employment. It says schools should be infused with unpaid workers and recommends collapsing four higher education agencies into one.

To that end, it urges Schwarzenegger to create a Department of Education and Work Force Preparation to set education policy from preschool through the post-graduate level.

And a new Education and Work Force Council would re-focus schools on work force preparation.

"The state's education system can serve its work force preparation function more effectively if it is synchronized with the state's economic growth and labor market trends," according to the report.

The two new agencies are proposed even as the report condemns the "complex array of agencies, departments and commissions" that now run the school system, sometimes at cross purposes.

Heading the new agencies would be the governor's secretary for education, a slot currently held by Richard Riordan, the former mayor of Los Angeles. His new title would be secretary for education and work force preparation.
The PTA moms I know have been whispering about a dreaded change to the educational landscape, dreaded because they believe Riordan and Ouchi would have quite a bit of impact on the deal. Well, here it is. I'm not quite sure of the ramifications yet. What is clear is that Richard 'stupid dirty girl' Riordan has got a whole lot more power.

The 'unpaid worker' aspect worries me. Exactly what and who are unpaid workers?

The realignment towards employment preparation worries me also. Could this end up as more dumbing down of the curriculum? Are we preparing kids to become worker bees?

Hard to say but I'm wondering how much goodwill the public has left for our faux terminator. Or maybe he's trying to push this through while he still has a bit of good will left. My fellow Californians, can we please say no to this guy?