The Los Angeles Times reports California GOP gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari wants to make some major changes to the state’s educational system. He says, “We must change the status quo.” Some of those changes include:
- Taking the state money formerly sent to the school districts and sending it instead to the schools themselves
- Jettisoning the state’s education code and allowing the schools to be governed by the same rules as charter schools
- More vocational education
- Longer school days and years
- Teachers earning merit pay
Kashkari’s proposal states, “We can absolutely transform California’s education system into a force that not only lifts student achievement but ultimately addresses income inequality and eradicates poverty from our communities.”
Kashkari has already released a plan for tackling job creation.
California has a $98-billion general fund budget; more than half of the funds are being spent in 2014 on K-12 and higher education. Governor Jerry Brown wants to spend even more in his blueprint for the new fiscal year that begins July 1.
Meanwhile, California students languish near the bottom of the nation in reading and math, and colleges and universities are struggling to accommodate the abundance of students clamoring for required courses, which delays their graduations and causes them to incur more student loans.
Kashkari’s solution for the higher education roadblock is to link some state funding to campus performance. The schools would be judged by graduation and course completion rates. He also wants the University of California and California State University systems’ courses online within four years, and a scholarship program that would benefit students majoring in science, technology, engineering or math. The scholarships would waive their tuition fees with the quid pro quo that the students would give up a small part of the money they earned after they left school.
There are dissenters. John Rogers, director of the Institute for Democracy, Education and Access at UCLA, said, “There is a mix of suspicion of big government with big initiatives and big goals, and so you see kind of this contradictory mix … he wants to, at least rhetorically, suggest we need less government, not more … It’s very difficult to do both of those things … at the same time.”
Kashkari is not shy about accusing Brown and the Democrats of indulging the teachers’ unions at the expense of schoolchildren, saying, “Every child deserves a good education and states demand a better workforce, yet Democrats refuse to prioritize children over the interests that fund their political machines.”
The California Teachers Association donated nearly $5 million for Brown’s 2010 campaign for governor as well as millions more to back his tax increase on the 2012 statewide ballot.
Brown heartily dislikes charter schools; he fired seven members of the state Board of Education in 2011, some of whom were avid supporters of them.