How to fix our schools–Do we have the will?

Former Assemblymember and long-time teacher and school board member Jackie Goldberg has provided Speak Out California with her response to the recently released 1000 page report on the state of K-12 education in California.
She makes a strong case for why “money counts”, in spite of the Governor’s simplistic and right-wing tainted mantra that bad teachers are the problem, not money.
In her first two blogs, published this week on Speak Out California’s blog, she talks about the need to invest more in our children and teachers as they do in private schools similar to the ones to which our Governor sends his own children.
In today’s blog, Jackie identifies the structural problem with more and more decisions being made by Sacramento in cookie-cutter fashion and not serving our diverse student body. Here is her analysis of why we need to return our schools to local control.
We appreciate the number of people who have responded by email to Speak Out California, but would urge that your comments be posted directly on the blog so that others can see what you are thinking as well. We hope to continue the discussion and then work to achieve the goal of returning quality education into the schools of our state to ensure a better future for our children and our critically important work-force.

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Fixing our broken educational system

Former Assemblymember Jackie Goldberg, long-time teacher, school board member and immediate past Chair of the Assembly Committee on Education provides us with some pretty plain facts-and numbers- about how much money it takes to properly educate children in the world today.
Here is her second in a three-part series of observations and comments about the recent report that came out on the state of California’s K-12 education system and the Governor’s partisan knee-jerk and overly simplistic view of its contents and our schools needs.
We invite your comments and suggestions in hopes of creating a wide-reaching dialog about what you think the real problems and solutions might be that will bring our schools back to the levels of excellence that once marked our public education system and established it as a standard for all the other states to emulate.

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What will really fix California’s schools?

Within the past two weeks, a specially appointed commission came out with a report on the state of public education in California. As is his tendency to the dramatic and simplistic, Governor Schwarzenegger called for reform that focuses primarily on getting rid of the bad teacher. While many of us still remember the bad teacher we came across during our K-12 experience, I suspect we far better remember the teacher who inspired and enthralled us to learn more and do better.
Our own Speak Out California board member and former Assemblymember Jackie Goldberg spent many years as a classroom teacher and School Board member for the LA Unified School District. She also chaired the Assembly Committee on Education for the past four years in Sacramento. Very few people have such a wide-range of experience and insights on this issue so we asked her to share her thoughts on this report and the state of K-12 education in California
today. Her three-part analysis starts today and will continue throughout the week on our blog.
We invite your comments and opinions in hopes that we can generate an open and wide-ranging discussion on this extremely complex and wide-reaching challenge facing California today-and how it bodes for the future of our state.

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Liveblogging TALC

I’m at the High Speed Rail session at the Bay Area Transportation and Land Use Coalition conference in Oakland today, where my laptop just stepped up to play this great video that the High Speed Rail Authority has put together:

This is a great conference – almost 400 people, and with a strong social justice focus along with the expected environmental one. This is the kind of citizen-led event that flies right in the face of the “California is ungovernable” argument.

Cal State Faculty Strike Looks Like a Go

With the Cal State University faculty having voted overwhelmingly to strike as a result of the impasse with CSU’s adminstration over its contract, Speak Out California has called for support of the Faculty’s efforts to negotiate a fair contract with the CSU administration. If you didn’t receive our ACTION ALERT, please go to our HOME page and click on the TAKE ACTION link at the top of the page. From there you’ll find a model draft of a letter to go to state legislators urging their support for the Faculty Association in its efforts to receive a fair contract. In addition, Speak Out is seeking your support for legislation which will add sunshine to the CSU’s compensation practices which have given favored administrators raises of up to 60% in the past two years while faculty salaries lag up to 35% below counterparts in other state university systems.
The California State University system is one of the key educational components to our state’s future so we’ve been following this closely. Here’s the most recent update from Speak Out Board member and Assistant Professor at Cal State Sacramento, R. Stanley Oden as to where the situation stands now.

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Voting to kill the troops – even here

You wouldn’t think this would be possible in our state, but two Congressman have perfect zeros on votes for supporting the troops: Jerry Lewis and John Doolittle. Down With Tyranny has great coverage and links to their progressive punch scores. This was an ad from 2006 about this issue:

Doolittle is the sicko who had party operatives send out a piece of mail the weekend before the election accusing his opponent, retired Air Force Lieutenant Charlie Brown, of being a Nazi sympathizer. Despite being in a district that is among the most lopsidedly Republican in the state (by almost 20 points!) he almost lost. It takes a special kind of chutzpah to accuse a veteran of being a Nazi sympathizer and a special kind of incompetence to blow a 20 point lead. You can contribute to Charlie Brown here. He is absolutely running again.
Dailykos, Calitics, and D-Day all have more on these two.

Ideas and consequences: the case for interdependence

Over at StreetProphets, PastorDan asks “Who is My Neighbor?” in relation to the ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) raids that have been happening all over the country – including many in California. Latina Lista broke some great coverage of the “privatized detention facilities” (maybe the three scariest words in the American lexicon right now) that families broken up by the raids are being placed in.
PastorDan’s post includes a treatment of how birthright citizenship challenges the authoritarian familial structures favored by conservatives – and why they want that law changed. The whole article, and a lot of the pieces linked from it, are very much worth a read. But where it really gets interesting is this:

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Woah! Tom McClintock on hate radio!

According to the website and an email announcement this morning, conservative State Senator Tom McClintock appeared on a Disney-owned talk radio station with a ten year history of hate speech, racist fearmongering and authoritarian and eliminationist rhetoric this morning. This is the station that has prompted this letter from Media Matters to Disney executives, with examples of some of the on-air violence and death threats that are typically employed.
The questions that arise from this are troubling. Does Senator McClintock support and endorse these points of view? Do we really want to live in a state where death threats can be broadcast to millions of people so that they become just another part of the background noise?
The standard conservative dodge is that “we were just joking.” But is any of this remotely funny? When did it become ok to say things like this and have there be no consequences?

The Oilies are at it again

Is it any surprise to those of us who follow the machinations of the oil industry that they are recording record profits here in California by gouging us at the pump by way of their refinery prices? Shouldn’t be but on the other hand, it has been almost impossible to regulate how these profit hungry, pollution specialist mega-corporations do business. Blame it on the “market-based” system that the Free Marketeers hold so sacrosanct. Nothing should interfere with the market’s supply and demand approach to all economic decisions. Although the industry has not yet been found to have violated any laws against colluding to fix prices, the state’s Attorney General’, Jerry Brown has said the investigation of refiners enormous profit-spike from last year (begun by then AG Bill Lockyer) continues.
So much of their machinations are astonishingly similar to those of the energy companies back in 2000 during our energy crisis in California. Facilities going down for unscheduled and “unexpected” repairs. While always a possibility, it was curious then that when regulators attempted to investigate, they were refused admission to the production facilities or delayed entry for up to nine hours before being allowed in. In the gas refining business, we don’t even have the authority by law to conduct such inquiries.

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Crackling with new energy

Last Thursday night, Bay Area for Barack kicked off their grassroots push for the Senator’s 2008 campaign, organized through the campaign’s Meetup-on-steroids social networking tool. For those who were around to experience the Dean grassroots energy of 2003, the feel to this meeting was familiar to the grassroots push then – but with three particularly interesting new developments:

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