Republican businessman John Cox says if elected governor of California, he will get politics out of education policy and promote school choice alternatives, such as charter schools and homeschooling.
“It wasn’t President Trump that gave us one of the most expensive and failing school systems in the country,” Cox told his supporters after coming in second behind Democrat Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom in the state’s primary election.
“This is absolutely criminal to deprive our children of the education they deserve,” he said, continuing:
The extra tax money that they passed in Prop 30, it’s not going into the classroom; it’s going to administrators and pensions. We need to get that money into the classroom, and we need to give our children and our parents the education they deserve, and that includes building more charters and giving parents choice and encouraging homeschooling.
In an interview in early May with EdSource, Cox, who hails from Rancho Santa Fe in San Diego County, said he wants to reduce teachers’ unions and special interest groups’ control over schools.
“This state spends upwards of $60 billion a year on education, and it’s controlled for the most part by politicians and, frankly, the unions that control, in many ways, the politicians,” he said. “I want to put the parents in charge. I want to make it a consumer effort again.”
During his 2016 presidential campaign, President Donald Trump ran on returning control of education to parents. While Cox said he voted for libertarian Gary Johnson in the presidential election, he now approves of the president’s job performance.
Cox, who grew up in Chicago, does not see increased education funding as the solution to problems in California schools.
“They have increased education spending incredibly over the last seven years, and it keeps going into administration. It keeps going into pensions,” he told EdSource. “It’s not going into the classrooms, and that’s a problem. No business in the world would keep throwing money into a system where it’s not producing results.”
Cox says increasing competition among school options is the way to improve education.
“We need to give parents all over the state — in the inner city, in the barrios — we need to give those parents the same choice of an education that wealthy parents have,” he said.
Similarly, Cox would not increase funding for the state’s public university system. Instead, colleges should cut spending, he said, through actions such as requiring professors to teach more classes.
“Today’s kids are leaving school with $200,000 debts hanging over their heads,” he said, recalling his own experience attending community college and then transferring to the University of Illinois. “I had no debt — not because I was rich, not because I had a rich daddy, but because I worked hard and paid for it myself. But it was affordable. I could pay for it.”