Governor Claims Budget Deficit is Gone, Introduces Balanced State Budget


Governor Jerry Brown announced on Thursday that he is putting forth a balance budget “that boosts investment in education, implements health care reform and keeps California on a long-term path to fiscal stability. This budget builds on the work of the last two years to eliminate the ongoing deficit.”

“The budget cuts made in the last two years and the passage of Proposition 30 make it possible to both live within our means and to increase funding for education,” said Governor Brown.

When Governor Brown took office, the state faced a $26.6 billion budget deficit and estimated annual gaps of roughly $20 billion.

“The first two state budgets under Governor Brown’s watch eliminated these deficits with billions of dollars in cuts as well as temporary revenues. The 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 budgets provided three dollars of spending cuts for every dollar in temporary tax revenues approved by the voters,” the governor’s office claimed in a release on Thursday.

“To maintain the fiscal stability that has been achieved, the budget reflects the continuation of spending cuts made in the last two years, continues to pay down the ‘wall of debt’ and recognizes risks that remain,” they continued.

“Fiscal discipline is not the enemy of democratic governance, but rather its fundamental predicate. In fact, it is through fiscal discipline that this budget can invest in education, expand health care and provide a safety net for the most vulnerable,” said Governor Brown.

According to the governor’s office, the budget maintains long-term fiscal stability by aligning expenditures with revenue, paying down debt and creating a $1 billion reserve.

“This budget provides long-term fiscal stability on a level that California has not enjoyed in more than a decade,” the governor claimed.

The governor’s office argues that, after years of budget cuts, this budget will significantly increase state funding per student in K-12 schools.

Per pupil funding will increase by about $2,700 by 2016-2017.

Funding for K-12 and community colleges increases by $2.7 billion next year, and by $19 billion by 2016-2017.

“While K-12 school districts across the state will benefit from the increased funding – through a new school funding formula – school districts serving those students who have the greatest challenges will receive more generous increases – so that all students in California have the opportunity to succeed,” the release said. “The budget increases flexibility at the local level so those closest to the students can make the decisions.”

The budget also increases funding to strengthen higher education and increase affordability.

State funding increases for UC and CSU by about $250 million, or five percent.  The governor also proposes a multi-year stable funding plan to strengthen our higher education system, ensure affordability and reduce student indebtedness.

“Higher education costs have risen rapidly and middle class students have paid the price. By shortening the time it takes a student to successfully complete a degree and calling on UC and CSU to deploy their instructional resources more effectively, the system can be made more affordable – both for the students and the state,” the governor said.

Finally, the budget will also expand access to health care for Californians by implementing federal health care reform.

“It expands coverage by simplifying Medi-Cal eligibility and extending coverage to childless adults and uninsured parents. Given promised federal funding, the budget outlines two alternative pathways. It also recognizes that implementation of health care reform will require changes in the respective responsibilities of the state and the counties,” the governor’s office announced.

Speaker John Perez responded to the governor’s announcement with a statement, “This is a proposal that clearly shows California has turned the corner. The Governor’s budget is sober, restrained and forward thinking, and I believe it’s a solid foundation for the budget process. I am looking forward to thorough and insightful public hearings as we work with the Governor to adopt the final budget by our Constitutional deadline.”

One of the critical questions was the impact of the budget on schools.  A local official is not sure of the impact on Davis’ schools, but believes that more money is not likely to be pushed toward Davis schools in the near future.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson had a mainly positive assessment of the budget, but he did warn, “It will take years to bring our education system back to financial health, and I applaud the Governor for beginning that work in earnest.”

“I do believe, however, that early education programs – cut deeply in recent years – deserve to share in this recovery as well. They are among our best investments in the future of California’s children,” he said.

He praised the governor overall, but remains leery about the state of school funding.

He said on Thursday, “I admire the Governor’s determination to move forward with an overhaul of California’s confusing system of school finance, and I share his desire to direct more help to students and schools with the greatest needs. At the same time, I remain concerned about the fragile fiscal state of so many school districts and preserving state priorities. I look forward to examining details of the Governor’s proposal and working closely with the education community throughout this challenging process.”

Senator Lois Wolk, who represents Davis and parts of Yolo County in the State Senate, said on Thursday, “I agree with the Governor’s cautious approach with this year’s budget. While the Governor was successful in persuading voters to pass Proposition 30, and has hopefully addressed the state’s structural deficit, we must continue to work to increase efficiency, transparency, and accountability throughout state government.”

She said, “That is the only way to restore the public’s confidence in the state’s ability to spend their tax dollars wisely, and I believe the Governor shares this view.”

“I’m encouraged by the Administration’s work to increase government efficiency and focus on accomplishing program goals, per the Governor’s executive order,” Senator Wolk continued. “While I was disappointed in the Governor’s veto of my performance-based budget measure, his pledge has given me hope.  There is still much work to do, however, and I look forward to collaborating with the Governor to implement performance-based budgeting on a statewide level.”

“I’m also encouraged by the direction the Governor is taking to strengthen the state’s Enterprise Zone (EZ) program, and look forward to working with him to provide more effective economic development programs through both general reform as well as much-needed changes that address the very low return on the state’s approximately $500 million dollar annual investment in some EZ programs.  The Governor also made some bold proposals for our state’s schools, universities, health care, and prisons that will require an open and in-depth dialogue. I expect this will be a busy year,” Senator Wolk concluded.

Assemblymember Mariko Yamada, in a statement, responded, “Governor Brown’s common sense budget signals continued restraint and prioritizes repayment and reinvestment in education as the pathway to a brighter future.  At the same time, we must not forget those at the other end of the age spectrum – the elderly and those with disabilities – whose lifelong sacrifices and contributions have made the down payment on our Golden State.”

She added, “We are in an aging society and the cumulative effects of program cuts to services serving impoverished seniors and disabled adults must be integral to the budget discussion.”

The Sacramento Bee in their editorial this morning called it “a solid California budget,” but they said that the state is still on “a shaky fiscal foundation.”

The Bee did note, “Gov. Jerry Brown performed a near-miracle Thursday by proposing a budget that both Democrats and Republicans generally praised” noting “there’s a fair amount of consensus that California must make education a priority while being prudent about most other spending. Brown’s budget does that, even to the disappointment of members of his own party who want the state to invest more in social programs.”

Still, “Even if Brown’s spending plan is as prudent as it seems, no one at the Capitol should be doing fiscal high-fives. Yes, the state’s financial situation is far healthier than when Brown took office, and he deserves credit for that.”

The Bee points out that the state has a large amount of debt, most of which preceded Governor Brown and “which the governor and lawmakers haven’t fully confronted.”

The other looming storm is the US Congress: “California is highly dependent on federal funding, and continued impasses or sequestration-type spending cuts could affect everything from health care to transportation. Automatic tax increases could cut into take-home income, affecting consumer decisions and state tax revenue.”

The San Francisco Chronicle argued, on the other hand, that the governor’s plan “carries a risky message: It’s time to push programs from prisons to classrooms in new directions.”

They argue that, while things are better, “no one – especially lobbyists and fellow Democratic legislators – should think it’s time to fill in tens of billions in cuts made over the past several years, he said repeatedly.”

“Brown plans to play Scrooge on new spending as the Legislature reviews the budget between now and its June approval deadline,” the Chronicle writes. “But he also wants to take the state in a direction that aims to chop expenses, refashion familiar programs, and mold government to suit his abiding suspicion of bureaucracy and established practices. It’s an appealing idea, but Brown must better explain these goals than he has so far.”

They note, “Brown plans an extra $2 billion for public schools, but with a significant condition. He intends to do away with a welter of special payments to school districts and send more Sacramento money to poor, low performing districts. It’s a plan that will likely harm wealthier suburbia and help urban classrooms.”

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. rusty49

    Here you go Siegel, I’ll do your homework for you:

    “California again trumped other states with a $617 billion debt. California’s debt is more than twice the size of New York’s state debt, and New York has the second largest total debt burden in the nation.”


  2. Siegel

    That doesn’t answer my question. You can’t make a claim and then tell someone who questions your claim to google it, you have a burden of proof for your assertions. Do you have a state source that validates that group’s claim on debt and also what form does the debt take. You said, “enough said,” well it’s not. What are they counting as debt to come up with that figure, can you answer that question?

  3. rusty49

    From the SacBee:

    “California’s outstanding state government debt rose by about $5 billion to $617 billion during the last year, according to a new report from State Budget Solutions, a nonpartisan, DC-based research and advocacy group.”


    There you go GreenandGolden, from the liberal SacBee which says the report is from a “nonpartisan, DC-based research and advocacy group.” I know it’s not where you usually get your facts from, DailyKos, Huffington Post, MediaMatters, MSNBC…..

  4. Siegel

    I did read it. I still have the same question. In addition, it strikes me as odd that they are now considering unfunded liabilities from pensions and retiree health as debt. Does that mean that the city of Davis is in $122 million of debt? Debt is normally considered money that is borrowed rather than a projected that is unfunded. Given that’s their definition – which I question – I’m less concerned particularly in the light of pension reform and ACA.

  5. Frankly

    Rusty, I’m not 100% sure, but I thing GaG wants you to admit that it was tax cuts and the Great Recession that caused the state deficit growth. I will post the data later that shows CA budget problems were here long before the recession. The recession provides a nice smoke screen.

  6. Don Shor

    I’m guessing the conservatives here won’t be able to bring themselves to acknowledge Brown’s achievement.
    He got the voters to approve a tax increase, not just on others but on themselves. I can’t remember the last governor who promoted an initiative that actually passed, especially a tax increase. [url][/url]
    He restored some funding to the schools.
    He said he was going to do both of those things, and he did them.
    Is the state in perfect fiscal condition? Of course not. But he has made progress within the range of options he had available to him.

  7. Don Shor

    There is no budget that would satisfy you, rusty. “Smoke and mirrors” is standard conservative boilerplate. It’s based on projected revenues, as every budget always is. If you think the projections are wrong, or overly optimistic, then by all means let us know what economic projections you would prefer to have the state finance officials use.

  8. GreenandGolden

    ole rusty and jeff are providing more than the usual mirth to this cold morning.

    biddlin: Indeed one can pine for the days when Buckley qualified as a conservative. In today’s teabagging world, Buckley would be a ragin’ librul. Ditto only more so for Eisenhauer, Truman, Nixon, and Bush the elder.

  9. Rifkin

    [i]”I’m guessing the conservatives here won’t be able to bring themselves to acknowledge Brown’s achievement.”[/i]

    I’m not a conservative. But I am skeptical of the claim that the state’s budget will really be balanced in 2013. Much depends on revenue assumptions by the governor which are higher than the LAO says they will be. Time will tell.

    On the other hand, I am optimistic that in the next year or so our real estate crisis will have ended. It is over in the Bay Area and a few parts of Southern California. The excess supply in those places has all been absorbed and prices are rising–in some places very fast. In the rest of California, including the Sacramento region, most of the excess inventory is being absorbed, and prices have stabilized. I expect they will start to rise soon.

    As I have said for four years, once the real estate inventory problem was taken care of, the general economy would again grow at a healthy pace. That should be the case in California quite soon.

    What I am less skeptical of is the fact that the 49ers will lose badly tomorrow ([url][/url]). If you are going to place a bet on that game, take Green Bay. Trust me.

  10. Frankly

    CA unemployment will continue to be low… lower than the national average. That will by part of Brown’s legacy. That and making California the highest taxed state in the nation. Democrats should be proud.

    Rich, are you discounting 49er defense?

  11. rusty49

    Jeff, you can add to Brown’s legacy the many businesses and wealthy Californians that will flee the state because of his higher taxation and over regulation.

    On another note here’s a doll for all of the Obama lovers to adore:


  12. Frankly

    Rusty, I think some will flee the state. But more importantly, fewer will come to the state, and fewer will expand in the state.

    To offset the impact of the high tax and regulatory climate, the state will have to work very hard to compensate. I know Governor Brown is putting some effort into this. For example I know he has ramped up on small business development resources. I know a few people he has recently hired… good people.

    However, he killed RDA, he increased taxes, and he campaigned in a way for his tax increases that led to a Democrat super-marjority… one that is not done taxing and punishing business in this state. Will he veto? Will he control the Democrat’s endless appetite for spending money we do not have? I don’t know. I think he will in rhetoric, but not in actions.

    My sense is that the rest of the nation will do better in overall private-market recovery and growth than will California. And, that will be a big shame.

    However, we will be able to celebrate that all those government employees will continue to get their higher than market rate pay and benefits. Yippee!

  13. Don Shor

    [i]Much depends on revenue assumptions by the governor which are higher than the LAO says they will be.[/i]
    Brown says the budget will balance in 2013. LAO says 2014. Take your pick; in either case, relatively good news for California.

    [i]”…he campaigned in a way for his tax increases that led to a Democrat super-marjority”
    So once again, Republicans aren’t responsible for their own electoral outcomes. It’s always someone else’s fault that they lose.

  14. Mr.Toad

    California’s budget problems were always manageable. Even though they looked large as a portion of the California economy they are not that large. The problem has been the refusal of the Republicans to address them. Finally the voters stepped in and raised taxes that should have been raised by the legislature but were not due to the intransigence of the no new taxes Republicans and the 2/3 rule. it is funny to hear the crying of the people who don’t like the tax structure Brown came up with because a few Republicans in the legislature could have come up with a different solution but refused to buck the no tax pledge leaving it to Brown to go to the voters. The voters also punished the Republicans with super minority status partially as a result of their failure to do their jobs and fix the budget.

    What is amazing is a complaint about the total debt, including future liabilities, of California. If you were seriously concerned about this your answer would be to raise taxes and cut spending but by only wanting cuts you show you aren’t serious. The same goes for the Republicans at the Federal level. The question remains how long before the whole country repudiates the house Republicans. It took about ten years in California because of gerrymandering. My guess is it will take the same at the Federal level. Its going to be a long decade. By the way the debt ceiling will not be breached because the people who won’t get paid are the ones who hold the debt. They are also the ones who fund the GOP.

  15. Frankly

    Republicans want to cut because – except for the Great Recession budget smoke screen – revenues have been stable at the lower tax rates. It has ONLY been spending that has dramatically changed. Dramatically gone up.

    You lefties are a crack up with your tired old rhetoric blaming the Republicans for your Party’s failures to manage a budget and hold spending to sustainable levels. Wah! I want my candy to feed my obese face and you won’t agree to give it to me!!!! That is the sound I hear coming from lefties these days.

    We don’t have a revenue problem. We have a spending problem combined with crappy business-hostile economic policy that is resulting in too low economic growth.

    Government trickle-down does not work.

    Ask Mao and Stalin and Castro and Chavez.

    All you Dems need to do is to turn back spending to 2006 levels, and implement Pay-Go and the Republicans will start loving temporary tax increases that are used 100% to pay off our existing debt.

  16. Mr.Toad

    Hey Jeff what is the sound of one hand clapping? Its the Republican super-minority in Sacramento refusing to solve the budget problems of the state. Yes, let us return to those days of yesteryear when George W. Bush was President and fiscal prudence was the law of the land. Oh wait…

  17. Rifkin

    [i]”Rich, are you discounting 49er defense?”[/i]

    Yes. Here is the number you need to know: 34.4. That is the per game (4 quarter) average number of points the 49ers have given up since Justin Smith tore his triceps ligament. Before Smith was injured, they gave up an average of 12.2 pts per game.

    Smith is expected to play tomorrow, but he won’t be effective. His triceps has not healed.

    Additionally, Aaron Rodgers is the best QB in the NFL, and the Packers have a smart offensive scheme. Green Bay will score a lot of points. The 49ers offense is not good enough to keep pace.

    Willie Brown will not play:


  18. Don Shor

    [i]”…and the Republicans will start loving temporary tax increases “
    In case you hadn’t noticed, it doesn’t make the slightest difference now what Republican legislators in California think.

    Football is waaaaayyyyy off topic.

  19. craised

    I am not very good at accounting could some here describe to me how this balanced budget stuff works????

    Controller Releases December Cash Update
    Contact: Jacob Roper

    SACRAMENTO – State Controller John Chiang today released his monthly report covering California’s cash balance, receipts and disbursements in December 2012. After accounting for timing issues related to sales tax deposits, December’s totals were $103.4 million above (1.1 percent) estimates found in the 2012-13 state budget.
    “While December’s figures were distorted by timing issues, the month’s revenues closely match budget projections and offer further evidence that California’s economy is slowly mending,” said Chiang.
    December’s sales tax receipts were affected by a large timing issue at the end of the calendar year. While $1 billion of sales tax was deposited into the Board of Equalization’s bank account on December 31, those dollars were not transferred to the General Fund for another two days. Because the Controller’s monthly cash report shows General Fund balances reported by close of business on December 31, the $1 billion of late-deposited December sales tax dollars will instead appear in January’s report. Without accounting for this timing issue, total revenues fell $896.6 million below (-9.6 percent) monthly estimates.
    Personal income taxes in the month of December came in $767.6 million above (13.4 percent) monthly estimates contained in the 2012-13 state budget. Corporate taxes came in $445.9 million below (-31.2 percent) those monthly estimates.
    The State ended the last fiscal year with a cash deficit of $9.6 billion. [u]As of December 31, that cash deficit totaled $24.2 billion and was covered with $14.2 billion of internal borrowing (temporary loans from special funds), and $10 billion of external borrowing.


  20. rusty49

    Some balanced budget, achieved through phony revenue projections and $6 billion in new taxes which will just reopen the flood gates for Democrats to spend more.

    By the way, can we expect the school tax measure to be cancelled since more money will be coming back in to K-12?

  21. Frankly

    [i] In case you hadn’t noticed, it doesn’t make the slightest difference now what Republican legislators in California think. [/i]

    I agree. Been that way for a while. So why the do we still hear those on the left blaming Republicans? Personaly,I think those on the left are insecure and expect to fail… Hence they keep working on their skapegoat exit strategy.

  22. Don Shor

    [i]achieved through phony revenue projections
    Again, unless you describe why you believe them to be phony or provide some evidence, you’re just repeating platitudes.

    [i]So why the do we still hear those on the left blaming Republicans? [/i]

    Why do we still hear Republicans blaming everyone but themselves for their electoral failures?

  23. Frankly

    Fine Don. Republicans lost because the CA majority stopped buying Republican fiscal principles. So are you going to just gloat and continue to blame looking backward or start taking responsibility for you dominant leadership position? You have the keys. Gonna drive or just park on the side throwing rocks and flipping everyone else off?

  24. Mr.Toad

    I think your answer is in Brown’s budget. More money for schools and hold the line as much as possible elsewhere. It will be interesting to see if the Dems can govern California with less acrimony and more fiscal honesty. For years we have heard that California is a liberal mess but those making this argument ignored the obstacles made by the 2/3 rule and Republican obstruction. My guess is that you may be unhappy with the choices but not with the way the State functions on higher taxes with balanced budgets passed on time.

  25. medwoman

    It would seem to me that Jerry Brown has stepped behind the wheel so to speak. You don’t think so Jeff ?
    I don’t see where he has been doing much gloating. Mostly looking forward with his trademark rather unique view of the world which, as I recall was typical for him previously, a view towards frugality, both individual and community.

  26. Don Shor

    rusty: I asked that the language be kept to a higher standard. Consider that their first warning.
    Everybody: please no derogatory terms. No teabagging. No cutesy names for Obama or Boehner or anyone else. No strange nicknames for the different parties, or for individual legislators. That kind of thing tends to deteriorate very rapidly.

    Jeff, I voted for the tax increase. I support, generally, the budget priorities of this governor. How am I “blaming looking backward throwing rocks flipping everyone off”?

  27. Siegel

    I haven’t seen any evidence posted by Rusty that the projections are phony.

    The December data that craised posted is pre-tax increase and on the previous budget. I have not seen the LAO report on Brown’s budget, so I doubt that Rusty can even do fiscal guess work if the LAO hasn’t released their analysis yet.

  28. Siegel

    I will note this however, from the LAO released back in November:

    [quote]Our economic and budgetary forecast indicates that California’s leaders face a dramatically smaller budget problem in 2013-14 compared to recent years. Furthermore, assuming steady economic growth and restraint in augmenting current program funding levels, there is a strong possibility of multibillion-dollar operating surpluses within a few years.[/quote]

    So is the LAO guilty of the same thing, phony projections? Can you describe these?

  29. Rifkin

    rusty49: [i]”California’s total debt = $617 billion……enough said.”
    Siegel: [i]”Enough said? how about the source of that figure? How about an explanation of where that debt lies?”[/i]

    It took me a while to find this number, but the latest report (12-1-12) from the Treasurer of California ([url][/url]) says the state’s long-term outstanding bond debt is $79,594,010,000. Additionally, the state has authorized, but not yet sold and $33,380,904,000 in long-term bonds. Together that is $113 billion in long-term debt.

    Additionally, California’s pension obligations are underfunded by roughly $400 million ([url][/url])–a Stanford researcher says $500 million ([url][/url]).

    On top of those debts, the state has unfunded medical liabilities. How much, I don’t know.

    Additionally, the state has been covering billions of dollars of general fund deficits the last 6 years by borrowing from other funds. That money, by law, must be repaid.

    Perhaps most problematic is because of Prop 98, when revenues rise, the state will be required to pour a lot more money into K-12 education. That is more money we won’t be able to pay debts with or refund other obligations.

  30. Frankly

    From 1988 to 2008, did not CA government spending per GDP increase?

    During that same time did not CA tax receipts per GDP also increase?

    Answer these questions factually and honestly and the real problem reveals itself.

  31. rusty49

    “Risky revenues cloud state’s budget plans (Actually phony numbers)”


  32. Frankly

    Rusty, debt does not count in budgeting. Only debt service. This one reason that Politicians love debt. However, your point about bond and pension debt is a great on because Dems want to hide it or say it isn’t important so they can spend more.

  33. Mr.Toad

    “Additionally, California’s pension obligations are underfunded by roughly $400 million–a Stanford researcher says $500 million.”

    You mean Billion? Isn’t that Stanford researcher the one who said we should use T-Bond rates as the ROI of the pension funds. Changing the number to what Calpers and Calstrs use as ROI reduces the unfunded liabilities substantially. Also aren’t state workers paying more into their pension accounts under Brown’s reforms? Won’t that reduce the level of unfunded liabilities even more?

  34. Edgar Wai

    Does anyone understand Modern Monetary Theory?

    I am still learning it, but it seems that the way normal people talk about debt simply does not apply to the government.

    Do you think that the State Government is like an Homeowner Association that collects dues and fixes roads, or is it a delegate of the Federal Government with the responsibility to reward new value generated by its workforce?

  35. Edgar Wai

    Does anyone understand Modern Monetary Theory?

    I am still learning it, but it seems that the way normal people talk about debt simply does not apply to the government.

    Do you think that the State Government is like an Homeowner Association that collects dues and fixes roads, or is it a delegate of the Federal Government with the responsibility to reward new value generated by its workforce?

  36. Edgar Wai

    It either case (Federate or State), is it good to think in terms of wastes and cutting [u]waste[/u]. Cutting [u]spending[/u], however, is a very different action.

  37. Rifkin

    [i]”You mean Billion?”[/i]

    Yes, billion. My bad. I think the $400 billion figure (from 2011) is more reasonable than the one Joe Nation of Stanford figures. Ultimately, the amount depends on how much future growth you estimate for the various pension funds. I think Prof. Nation picks too low a number, but the number he uses is higher than what the funds actually did grow over the previous 10 years to 2011.

  38. David M. Greenwald

    Rusty: Just so we are clear, when you are talking about “Risky revenues cloud state’s budget plans (Actually phony numbers),” you are actually quoting last year’s analysis, not this years.

    The LAO projects a $943 million deficit year end deficit in June that can be easily handled in the next budget.

    What that means is that (A) Brown is not far off and (B) the risky and phony budget from last year was actually wrong. The reason is that he was able to pass his budget.

    I assume when you come on this morning you will admit your error of posting an article from January 2012 instead of January 2013.

  39. rusty49

    “I assume when you come on this morning you will admit your error of posting an article from January 2012 instead of January 2013.”

    I was in error, I mistakenly posted a dated article.

    Now are you going to admit that you were in error posting about the laundromat issue that “The remarkable thing about this discussion is that, to a person, the people diminishing this closure were all people who own their own homes and their own vehicles” and should’ve retracted that statement?

  40. Frankly

    This is all you need to read to understand what the problem is so you can start ignoring the lies of Democrats, liberals and the left media.


    Get the word out to the the uninformed that voting for ANY politician with a hint of supporting more spending or even supporting current spending is a vote for continued economic decline.

  41. DT Businessman

    Doing away with Davis-Bacon would be helpful in restoring fiscal sanity at the local, state, and federal levels.

    Your clever comment yesterday, Biddin, certainly merited a chuckle.

    -Michael Bisch

  42. Don Shor

    [i]Get the word out to the the uninformed that voting for ANY politician with a hint of supporting more spending or even supporting current spending is a vote for continued economic decline.[/i]

    Your article was written in 2009 and thus shows none of the spending cuts Governor Brown implemented in 2011 and 2012. A quick search found $12 billion cut in 2011 and $8.5 billion in 2012.

  43. DT Businessman

    What about the dramatic cuts that have occurred to mental health and other social services targeting children as part of the budget cuts the past 4 years? Does anyone feel an effort to restore the funding is in order?

    -Michael Bisch

  44. medwoman

    [quote]by developing, applying and promoting libertarian
    principles, including individual liberty, free markets and the rule of law.[/quote]

    Within the first sentence of the work Jeff sites lies the reason that this is most certainly not all that one needs to read to understand what the problem is. If one starts from such a strongly biased point of view, it is virtually assured that one will not be provided with any kind of nuanced view of what is certainly a multifactorial problem. In one is looking at a budget whether that of a family, a business, a department, or a state, there are certainly going to be both revenue and spending issues involved in optimizing that budget. To pretend that only one side is valid is simplistic at best and duplicitous at worst. So not only is Jeff’s source outdated, but also so biased as to make it completely unreliable if taken alone instead of as one point of view on the issue.

    Also, once again Jeff, seeing the world differently from you does not make me a liar ! And I find it more than a little offensive that you continue with this characterization.

  45. medwoman


    [quote]What about the dramatic cuts that have occurred to mental health and other social services targeting children as part of the budget cuts the past 4 years? Does anyone feel an effort to restore the funding is in order?

    I would strongly favor restoration of funding for mental health, children’s social services, maternal, child and adolescent health care and probably many other programs that I feel are essential for the maintenance of a strong, educated, healthy and productive populace.

  46. Don Shor

    Mostly what is needed is more revenues going back to the counties, which administer a lot of those programs and which have been hard hit in recent years by funding cuts.

  47. Frankly

    “funding cuts”

    The only thing anyone on the left of politics or employed by the education system can come up with. It is ironic that these are the folks with the education. You would think they could be more creative… especially with all the evidence that spending more has absolutley not correlation with education outcomes.

    There are things being done in Silicon Valley that will kill education as we know it. I can’t wait. Once we destroy the old guard adult jobs program that substitutes for a system that might otherwise truly care enough to treat the kids as the most important subject, we WILL begin to treat the kids as the most important subject. And the US will again advance as an example for the rest of the world.

  48. Don Shor

    Jeff: I was talking about cuts to county funding. If you don’t believe counties have had funding cuts, call Matt Rexroad, Don Saylor, or Jim Provenza. I’m sure they’ll be happy to review the Yolo County budget with you. But you’ll never miss an opportunity to insult teachers, will you?

  49. Frankly

    Yeah Rusty. Speaking of education, I think Kaepernick schooled the NFL on what a 6’5″ QB that runs a 4.6 40 and can pitch a 92 MPL fastball can do to destroy the other team’s game plan.

    Don/wdf1/medwoman – great spirited debate on education. I know I come off as a jerk on this topic. I think there are a lot of well-meaning people stuck in an old paradigm and they are also extremely defensive of and protective of this old paradigm. So, there is not really any “sensitive” way that I can see to have the level of debate we should have.

    There is that common defense tactic to demonize folks like me as being hostile to teachers. I am not hostile to teachers any more than I am hostile to any employee of any business. There are lot of hardworking people in the business of education. My problem is the system. Teachers have the unfortunate situation of working in a crappy system.

    There is another vision for what we should be doing and that vision is far away from what we are doing.

    Here is the fundamental challenge in a nutshell: overall outcomes are terrible.

    – Dropout rates
    – Illiteracy
    – Low math and science knowledge transfer
    – Too few graduates able to enter higher learning or the workplace

    More importantly, the wealth gap that the Democrats are using as a wedge issue to move us to a greater version of European socialism is largely a product of our crappy education system.

    The system is broken and has been broken for decades even though you can point to a few bright spots… like Davis where highly education affluent parents pay extra and provide parental teaching to supplement what is lacking in the schools. That will not get it done. Specifically because the Davis story cannot be replicated to other school districts throughout the state and nation. Davis’s approach is not a solution, it is a work-around.

    Not only is the system broken, but our destiny in the world economy demands that it be significantly improved.

    Education will be transformed into a modern marvel that the rest of the world attempts to copy, if only we can break down the old structures of power that work hard to prevent it. The changes will start with higher learning specifically because the value proposition is broken… the cost exceeds the value by an order of magnitude. New technologically-enabled instruction delivery systems will reduce the costs, allowing more kids to stay living at home while working part time so they can afford to get a degree.

    K-12 is next.

    In the end , education costs for K-12 might increase on a per-student basis; but only if it returns commensurate value. That is the problem with all the arguments that funding is the problem. Spending more on the current system as designed will NOT return commensurate value. The money will go to the teachers union members, and we will see very little in the way of direct benefits to the kids. Sure the protectors of the broken system will work hard to pull out those few successes that they can trumpet. But meanwhile we will still have way too high dropout rates, too high levels of illiteracy, too low levels of math and science knowledge transfer, and most importantly, too few students made capable to succeed in a life that has grown more complex and competitive.

    Ya’ll need to get with this vision of a completely transformed education system.

  50. Edgar Wai

    For the question of education, I think it is necessary to decouple two issues:

    1) Where are the wastes in our education system and how to improve them; and

    2) How much value should US assign to teaching as a profession.

    The way to answer question 1, is to list the exact qualities that a student should learn, and from all the available solutions, find a set that best fits the circumstance of a community. The best set can vary across communities, and it also changes and adapts to better practices as they are discovered. In this system, the primary driver of improvement in teaching should be the teachers with the moral goal to train students to surpass themselves. Because of this moral goal, teachers as a profession is always “self-destroying”, as they are constantly trying to train better teachers to replace themselves. In an incentive-driven world without government support, the highly moral teachers have two options:

    a) To sacrifice themselves because their students would have out-competed them in a market driven world. But this is a contradiction because according to the true moral of teaching, once the student surpasses the teacher, the roles would flip, and the two would become colleagues instead. However, the market itself cannot bear the situation when everyone is competent in learning and teacher. The demand would go down and the market for teachers would collapse. The effect is that teachers will not be paid.

    b) That teaching becomes a type of hobby. All teachers have a different job that produces or provide services other than teaching, and they earn a living not because they teach, but because they produce. In such a society, the demand for teachers as a profession would drop if society allows kids to learn and be producers at the same time.

    In either cases, the profession of teaching, as a moral role, cannot sustain itself. The role cannot be stabilized in society that only has monetary incentives as the driver of improvement. The system that ‘corrupts’ education is the current monetary model which fails to compensate teachers for their true value (and as a side effect, fail to get rid of [i]some[/i] bad teachers that have no true value).

    The answer lies in question 2 and Modern Money Theory.

  51. Edgar Wai


    MMT explains the role of the government as the issuer of money to stabilize society. This role is needed even if we aren’t talking about education.

    The role of the government, is like a teacher who rewards good students with gold stars. The teacher expects every student to do good and receive a gold star, and two gold starts if they do exceptionally well. The supply of gold stars is unlimited, and the students are not in competition. As long as the student meets a standard of good student, a gold star is given. At the end of the class, the teacher collects a gold star from each student. The students are free to save or exchange the extra gold stars.

    The number of gold stars distributed represents the accumulated productivity (extra credits) of the class. In accounting terms, this quantity is part of the “Budget Deficit”. It is only part of it because the teacher could award too many gold stars for an activity and cost an inflation of gold stars. If the judgement of the teacher is fair and correct, then “Budget Deficit” is simply the number of Extra Credit Gold Stars that the teacher had distributed. It is a system to support a society that sets a standard, promotes productivity, without pitting the citizens against one another by acknowledging the wealth the private sector had created.

    To use this system, is to first discuss the following specific parameters:

    1) What is the standard of a good teacher?
    2) How much should a good teacher earn?
    3) How many good teachers should our community have?

    Once these parameters are defined, the monetary system can be changed to reflect the value of teachers. Note that even if there is no system change, we should still be able to answer these questions. So what is the standard of a good teacher?

    Some standards I can think of:

    1) The teacher must teach with the intention to let the student surpass them.
    2) The teacher must provide a clear rubric for the student to see where they are and what they can improve toward.
    3) The teacher must disclose wastes and inefficiencies in the education system and allow other members of society to step in to help.
    4) The teachers, collectively, must maintain a public reference (a “wiki”) to document all teaching issues and known solutions.

    Under these standards, all teachers hired by the government share the same mission to explore and improve teaching efficiency. It is part of their job to share their findings among themselves and with the public (because the public is part of the education system).

  52. Don Shor

    [i] I am not hostile to teachers any more than I am hostile to any employee of any business.[/i]

    Yes you are. [i]”Once we destroy the old guard adult jobs program that substitutes for a system…”[/i] is rude and hostile. Teachers are not in an adult jobs program. If you can’t see how that is hostile, then that online sensitivity training course you’re taking didn’t give you full value.

    [i]The system is broken and has been broken for decades even though you can point to a few bright spots[/i]

    Actually, it isn’t a few bright spots. The problem is that there are a number of [i]dark[/i] spots. Performance is not uniform statewide. There are districts and individual schools that are not performing, for a number of reasons that I outlined from the RAND study. In Davis, for example, we have one specific school that is under-performing. It would benefit from more teachers, more specialized staff, and possibly other resources. Those cost money. If you get that school performing better, DJUSD will show better test results and better outcomes.

    That is the pattern across the state: some schools need to be identified and need resources. So your statement that “Spending more on the current system as designed will NOT return commensurate value” is simply not true. If you need more teachers who have training in ESL, or need more special ed teachers, the only way a school will get them is if more relatively unrestricted funds are available to that school.

    [i]The money will go to the teachers union members[/i]
    Again, I agree that if the increased funds just go to pay increases for existing teachers, then we will have accomplished little.

    Whenever you propose a model for replacing the current system, it involved more technology and reduced staffing. We’ve shown that the tech options you prefer are there and are working. In fact, the Davis model is completely replicable as programs like DaVinci expand. But this is important: that is not for everyone. It works well for some students, not for others. And it takes money.

  53. Frankly

    So Don, when you and wdf1 complain about the US military operations you are both being hostile to soldiers?

    I’m rally getting tired of your double standard and this one-sided hyper sensitivity over certain topic. Nothing is more important than education from my perspective.. and yet we have folks like you setting up roadblock for discussion.

    Let me repeat one more time… If I call the education system a primary adult jobs program I am not being hostile to teachers.

    The hostility is from you and others attacking anyone that has the audacity to challenge the status quo

  54. Edgar Wai

    Since JB had forewarned that he could come off as a jerk, I think it is okay to focus on the meaning.

    I also think that it is fair to say that JB is a supporter of diverse teaching methods from previous posts. As far as I understand, JB’s proposal is to promote a voucher system, so that schools will compete against one another and be more progressive.

    Personally, I do not have a concern for that proposal because I am disconnected from the ‘education system’. I can only suspect that this concern exists:

    With a voucher system, and depending on how it is designed, there may not be enough incentive for a school to accommodate students with special needs.

    If the vouchers are a flat rate for all students, a “progressive” school might decide to serve only the majority student type, because uniformity could cut cost.

    If the vouchers are different depending on student needs or conditions, then we are at the granularity where we need to know approximately how much it is worth to educate each type of student with special needs.

    How do you assign if a student with special needs worth more or worth less to educate? If you run an IQ test and finds a kid to have low IQ, does this kid deserve more resources or less? Is this a matter of statistics? A matter of compassion? Or what? If you run an IQ test and finds a kid is practically a genius and does not need to go to school what do you do about this voucher amount?

    What about the concern that a voucher system could make a student population homogenous, partly because the [i]parent[/i] wants the student to go to such a school? Is this a legitimate concern? Or will it be a no-brainer that a progressive school would want a diverse student population?

  55. Don Shor

    When have I ever made any derogatory reference to soldiers? Or, for that matter, when have I made any reference even remotely like ‘adult jobs program’ to refer to the individuals who work in any industry, particularly the military? What double standard, Jeff? You definitely picked the wrong person to try to hang this canard on.

    The [b]primary[/b] purpose of the education system is, duh, educating kids. The [b]primary[/b] purpose is not the provision of jobs to teachers. They don’t think so, parents don’t think so. Your argument with the teachers unions causes you to denigrate teachers.
    So:[i] If I call the education system a [b]primary adult jobs program [/b]I am not being hostile to teachers.[/i]
    Yeah, you are. You are minimizing what teachers do day in and day out, suggesting that they’re just gathering paychecks.

    [i]”… the audacity to challenge the status quo …”[/i]
    You propose solutions that aren’t workable, refuse to acknowledge changes that are already in place, generally oppose increased funding, attack the providers, and routinely call it ‘crappy’. Other than that, the discussion is fine.
    The other problem is that the standard conservative answers to education involve implementing vouchers and promoting private charter schools. Neither is likely to achieve great outcomes. Vouchers, in particular, would cost the public system a lot of money. Then they want to destroy teachers unions, thereby alienating one of the key stakeholders in any discussion. And we get a lot about tech options that either are already in place, or would cost money.
    Anyone who wants to reform education will need to work with the existing stakeholders. Change has to be implemented gradually, and can’t distort current funding. Parents, in particular, have to buy into it. DaVinci didn’t expand overnight. More to the point, we need to focus existing resources where they’re most needed, and the kinds of reforms I keep hearing about such as interactive learning would require additional resources on top of that. If a school needs more special ed teachers, computer modules for interactive learning may seem like a misguided expense.
    I favor experimentation, greater flexibility to the schools, and working with the teachers and administrators wherever possible.

  56. Frankly

    [i]When have I ever made any derogatory reference to soldiers?[/i]

    When have I ever made any derogatory references to teachers?

    More importantly, when have I ever said you were making derogatory references to soldiers as you made clear your opinion that the US military was making mistakes, costs too much, was not doing a good enough job, should have a smaller force and rely on a modern, more technologically-enabled model? When Don have I ever turned your opinions about these things into a claim that you were against soldiers… that somehow you disliked or even hated soldiers. Never.

    Get the comparison?

    If not, let me simplify it for you. You have made it clear that the US military system is in need of drastic improvements. You support significant cuts to its budget at the same time you say you want it to improve how it carries out its mission in a changed world. That is the EXACT SAME argument I am making about the education system, yet you say I am attacking teachers.

    So Don, please at least be honest your double standard.

    Getting back to the subject. You and wdf1 keep bringing up Da Vinci as our shining example for how the public school system as we know it is doing wonderful things. However, it was the Gates Foundation that provided that initial funding. It was private industry… you know that routinely left-demonized system of competition, profit motive and creative destruction that provides ALL the revenue that public schools get. The Davis public schools would have never done the same, or if they have attempted, would never done as well, launching Da Vinci, without the mandate of the grant provided by the Gates Foundation. It is just another of a long list of examples that proves the public education system is incapable of doing enough. It is a broken system. It cannot fix itself unless it first completely transforms itself.

    The best way to do that is to allow much more competition into the system.

    And the arguments about special needs kids being left out is just union-protection fear mongering. Special needs people are taken care of in every private business. The same would be required for private schools taking public money. It is an interesting junk argument because it basically says that we all have to accept the crappy public school system because of the fear that some special needs student may not be accepted by the evil for-profit educators. I would expect for-profit schools to do a much BETTER job of meeting the education requirements of special needs students because they would more likely use the best and most advanced tools and techniques. The voucher for special needs students should be larger to reflect the true cost of educating them. With a larger voucher, private companies would be more attracted to designing a business model that serves them.

  57. Don Shor

    I want to reiterate a couple of things we’ve talked about before, mostly on the bulletin board thread, as they pertain to this discussion.
    The majority of parents in California are dissatisfied with the schools overall, but,
    the majority of parents in California are satisfied with their kid’s school.
    So the notion that the schools are crappy and failing and whatnot is not shared by most parents.
    Either they recognize that overall outcomes are not satisfactory, but find them good enough in their own school district, or there are some districts whose parents are very dissatisfied.

    My hypothesis would be that you will find higher levels of dissatisfaction in districts where facilities are old and deteriorating, where teacher/student ratios are high, and where there are high levels of students with special needs. You will probably correlate those conditions, and that level of dissatisfaction, with poverty.

    I don’t think any suggestion that schools need major, drastic reform will get much traction with parents in school districts like DJUSD, and there are plenty of districts like DJUSD. Wealthier ones. I don’t think the idea that teachers are incompetent or poor quality will get much traction in those places. There would likely be attraction to high-tech options, and possibly even a willingness to pay for them. But you aren’t going to get the sense of urgency that you’re trying to create with your pejoratives in places like this. It isn’t because of a liberal mindset. It’s because the schools here are good, and the outcomes are good.

    My kids had a lot of teachers, and I can honestly say that with very few exceptions they ranged from good to very good, with a few that were heroically outstanding. This district offers lots of choices, and parents are availing themselves of those choices. They can do Spanish Immersion, Independent Study, DaVinci, and more.

    I actually had a choice of DJUSD vs. Dixon schools, and worked hard to get my kids into DJUSD because of the choices. Dixon has had serious funding problems, predating the economic downturn, which have had a very detrimental effect on their program offerings. IMO Dixon schools need supplemental funding a lot more than Davis schools do. Because of the demographics and the income levels, Dixon has greater need.

    So if you have districts where people are basically satisfied — evidently enough to reelect their school boards and vote in parcel taxes by wide margins — and others where the needs are greater, it seems self-evident to me that the way to improve overall education is to focus on the problem areas. Not to talk down the whole system, because the whole system isn’t failing. Not to establish an adversarial relationship with the practitioners, because they aren’t ‘the problem’.

    I commend the governor for his targeted approach on this issue. I would think conservatives would recognize his pragmatic approach and applaud what he is doing.

  58. Don Shor

    [i]You support significant cuts to its budget at the same time you say you want it to improve how it carries out its mission in a changed world. [/i]

    I support cutting the defense budget because without two wars underway its mission is, or should be, much reduced. And the cuts I support aren’t very significant overall. I don’t think that the mission of our education system is reduced.
    I also have nothing against public-private partnerships to enhance public education. Gates has been a great boon to the public schools.

    [i]It is a broken system. It cannot fix itself unless it first completely transforms itself. [/i]
    We posted over each other. But my point is: most parents don’t think the system is broken at the point of delivery to their kids. Most parents in districts like DJUSD don’t think it needs a complete transformation.

    [i]The best way to do that is to allow much more competition into the system.
    Absolutely. I support charter schools that prove themselves, different course offerings, magnet schools, special programs like DSIS, intradistrict transfers, interdistrict transfers. All sorts of competition and choice within the system.
    I don’t support vouchers. They would suck money out of the public school budget. And I don’t support taxpayer dollars funding religion or scientific illiteracy.

  59. Frankly

    [i]What about the concern that a voucher system could make a student population homogenous, partly because the parent wants the student to go to such a school? Is this a legitimate concern? Or will it be a no-brainer that a progressive school would want a diverse student population?[/i]

    Edgar, these are false fears because of the simple fact that the same is already occurring in the pure public school system. There are a lot of things that kids cannot participate in because they are not lucky enough to be born with certain talents or capacities. Or, they don’t have highly educated parents with the time to provide supplemental education, or the funds to pay for special lessons and tutoring.

    Also, Davis is extremely homogenous compared to most other school districts in the area. In fact, that homogeneity makes it very difficult for some students to feel like they fit in. The high academic parental gene pool sets a benchmark for a type of learning ability and style that does not fit many students attending Davis schools.

    Realated to this, I would argue that ALL students have special needs.

    That is the key.

    If you think about our education traditions, there is more bias, competition, rejection, elitism, classism, separation, isolation, etc., than you can find in any other private for-profit business model. Were any other system as large as our education system filter and treat people the same, it would be closed by armies of protestors.

    Little Johnny has behavior problems. He does not fit in with the rest of the kids. We think he is ADD. He needs to be in a special program, and should see a doctor to get some meds.

    Little Suzy is introverted. She doesn’t try out for anything, and sits in the back of the class and does not raise her hand. We think she has emotional challenges and underdeveloped social skills. She should attend the special school, and should also get some outside counseling.

    Do you know how often this type of transaction occurs… and how many of these kids pushed off the mainstream track are creatively brilliant and potentially more intelligent that the lauded kids?

    There are great teachers out there doing the right things… recognizing the special needs of each child and working to leverage the uniqueness of that child to motivate him or her to learn. But, there are far too few of them, and they are largely prevented from doing heroes work by a system that is so screwed up and broken that it can only be fixed by scrapping it and starting over.

  60. Frankly

    [i]I commend the governor for his targeted approach on this issue. I would think conservatives would recognize his pragmatic approach and applaud what he is doing.[/i]

    Very early in the thread I pointed out the Governor’s challenge to the state colleges, and said I give him kudos for it. I am impressed with his stance on this even as I question his full intent given other actions and lacks of actions that seem to indicate he is just another Democrat politician protecting the Democrat’s union cash spigot.

  61. Don Shor

    [i]”by a system that is so screwed up and broken that it can only be fixed by scrapping it and starting over.”
    Repeating my point using the local example. If Davis parents are happy with their schools, why would you scrap it and start over?

  62. Edgar Wai

    I think JB’s point is that if he scrap it and start over, the same Davis parents will still be happy, plus some parents that weren’t happy will also become happy.

  63. Don Shor

    There is no way to ‘scrap it and start over’ without being highly disruptive. What would it entail with regard to the existing programs? How would you do it with parent and teacher buy-in? And more to the point, why would you embark on a drastic change when there isn’t any sense that it’s needed locally? He says this over and over, but really what I think Jeff wants is to privatize the education system as much as possible.

  64. Edgar Wai

    When someone proposes drastic changes, I imagine someone who tries to heart surgery thinking that the blood would somehow just stop flowing during the surgery. Impression aside, I don’t have a way to disprove that a drastic change can be implemented. I can only listen to what the actual plan is before I can evaluate.

  65. Edgar Wai

    [quote]Do you know how often this type of transaction occurs… and how many of these kids pushed off the mainstream track are creatively brilliant and potentially more intelligent that the lauded kids?[/quote]

    To be fair, I don’t know. I am accepting my ignorance. From my own education experience, schooling is a huge waste of productivity. I am talking about this rubric:

    Ranks of Education Systems:

    Rank 1: The system does not need government funding, because it itself is a productive component of society. The students learn and produce useful value for society at the same time. In such a system, education is not an investment for future value. It itself is a value producing process.

    Rank 2: The system is effective in preparing the students for the future. Its benefits are sound, and the programs are affordable.

    Rank 3: The system is effective in preparing the students for the current society–that is, if the society does not change, the students are prepared. The programs are affordable, but there is a risk that the students need to be re-trained to adapt to the future environment.

    Rank 4: The system is unable to keep up with current demands for the workforce. Society spend much resources for schools, but school becomes longer and longer, and the graduates are less prepared to contribute to society each year.

    Rank 5: The system trains criminals, radicals, and terrorists that destabilize the domestic society and the world at large.

    Some characteristics of a Rank 1 education system is its integration to the real society. The efforts that the students exert are applied directly to solve actual problems in society, instead of as “exercise” for the sake of their learning. To achieve this, there might be some rotational program that cycles the students through different actual projects where different skills are learned and applied.

    A Rank 2 system suffers the problem where the student do not get very motivated, because they know that their efforts in doing homework will only pay off [i]later[/i], not now. For student in poor neighborhood, there is almost a constant moral struggle to justify why education is needed. A Rank 1 system does not have this problem because the student will be actively helping the neighborhood as they are learning at the same time. Learning, making a living, and improving the community are all integrated in the same activities. Education is not an investment, it is a productive act on its own.

  66. Edgar Wai

    I said the current system is a huge waste, but at the same time I know that my educators are already working on it to move it to Rank 1. So I am not particularly worried about the future.

  67. Frankly

    [i]Repeating my point using the local example. If Davis parents are happy with their schools, why would you scrap it and start over? [/i]

    Edgar is correct. I think parents that are happy are so because they feel that their kid’s experience is good enough based on the relative comparison. Frankly, they believe by luck or by their proactivity, ingenuity and hard work, they have secured a good enough education experience for their kids.

    But, what if there were other options that demonstrated a much better experience? Wouldn’t they then gravitate to that for their kids?

    The existence of other options that demonstrate a much better experience are anathema to the existing monetary beneficiaries of the entrenched education system. Although the challenge to them is ramping up and will eventually persevere, their power structures are well-established and have been on auto-pilot for decades.

    It does not take much of a mental exercise to understand the true drivers and motives of the protectors of the status quo. There are three actors:
    -[b]Monetary Recipients [/b] – These are the unions and the Democrat politicians. Neither wants their symbiotic gravy train relationship to end.
    -[b]Academic Achievers [/b] – These are the families believing the current education system gives them a social and economic achievement advantages over others.
    -[b]Academic Dreamers [/b] – These are the families that mistakenly believe the first group of actors actually care for them, and foolishly believe the second group would give up their advantages.
    The mental exercise is simply to ask yourself if these actors really have the best interest of the kids at heart and head, why would they fight so vehemently against privatization improvement ideas when it is so absolutely clear that the current system is so crappy.

    My concept for improvement is really quite simple. It is a re-optimization of the human capital of teaching.

    Basically, skilled employees are expensive. Labor-intensive business that relies on highly-trained employees must strive to continually improve efficiency… to do more with less. This requires the prolific use of technology.

    From my perspective, for the grades 8-12 and maybe 6-12, many of the subjects being taught by highly compensated education system employees could be better delivered by a robust technology platform. The this valuable human teaching capital would be redeployed to lower class sizes for the younger students that need it, to help students with greater special needs, and to ramp up arts, industrial arts, labs, workshops, sports, etc… where hands-on experience and personal instruction are required.

  68. Frankly

    There are something like 1300 public high schools in California. Take every English, math, social studies, and foreign language class that all kids need to take and pass to graduate and deliver it on a School-Of-One, flipped classroom style where the instruction is interactive and dynamically tuned to the progress of the student, the best lectures are recorded and on-line, learning-enhancing graphic games and presentations help explain abstract and complex theories, on-line chat and video tutor-help is available… and all of this is open 24×7. We don’t need 4000 teachers teaching the same algebra class… many poorly… all designing their own lesson plans… all teaching with their own style… in ways that confound a percentage of their students leading them to dislike the subject or learning in general.

    But first we need to stop putting Johnny in the same box as all other students with academic gifts. We need to stop demanding that he attend college and start helping him figure out what he is good at, and then provide him an optimized education. Johnny just needs to pass those core classes and get to his industrial arts class where he will really excel learning how to create, make things and fix things. Johnny may not go to a four year university. He might finish some certification program at the community college. And one day he may become a successful business owner in a field that he started learning in high school.

    But not today. Not in this education system that costs almost twice as much per student as it did in 1978 when I graduated from high school… a high school that even offered a class for me to get my private pilot’s license.

  69. Don Shor

    [i]” many of the subjects being taught by highly compensated education system employees could be better delivered by a robust technology platform. [/i]

    For some students, perhaps, but not for all. Probably not for the majority. It would require a large investment at each site for technology. And a large number, probably most, would require more individualized instruction from specialized instructors. Having watched computer resources get implemented in independent study, I can tell you that utilization varies considerably, a lot of students require considerable oversight, and the results are not uniform at all.
    You would probably not be able to decrease staffing at all in this scenario. But it might be as popular as DaVinci, which uses a lot of that sort of thing already. Note that DaVinci is popular and growing, but is not serving a majority of students. Whether that is by choice of the students and/or their parents, or by a lack of available space and resources, I don’t know.

    [i]why would they fight so vehemently against privatization improvement ideas when it is so absolutely clear that the current system is so crappy. [/i]
    No problem with private firms helping the public school system. That is great. I urge Gates and others to continue donating to the public schools. It’s certainly to their benefit to invest in the public schools, to help create better employees and smarter, wealthier customers. And they are welcome to open private schools whenever and wherever they wish. But is is absolutely not “clear that the current system is so crappy.” You keep saying it, but it isn’t true. I’ve explained this over and over. There are a lot of schools that are doing well, and a lot of school districts that are doing well overall. So your statement, regardless of how many times you say it, isn’t valid.

  70. Don Shor

    By the way, none of this is intended to discourage you from actively promoting increased tech options in the local schools. You might wish to go see how they are using interactive teaching techniques at DaVinci, find out what material needs they have. See if there’s a way to get donations from private firms for that, for DSIS, and for the high school. I know that funding for hardware and software is always short. The Superintendent is reactivating the business advisory commission, and would certainly benefit from your expertise and ideas.

  71. Frankly

    Crappy US Education?
    [quote]The Department of Education is also requiring that the new graduation rates be a key element of accountability in measuring the effectiveness of schools.
    Asian students topped the graduation rates by demographic, with 79 percent of students finishing high school last year. White students followed with a 76 percent graduation rate, black students with 60 percent and Latino students with 58 percent.[/quote]
    Literacy rates are slightly better, but at a time when the rest of the world is advancing, the US is still significantly underperforming.


    In terms of long term trends in reading and math, there is a bit of good news for the younger students. However the outcomes for high school age students has not statistically changed for the last 30 years even as we have increased spending per student by 100% and the rest of the world advances.



  72. Frankly

    Fixed images…




  73. Don Shor

    Those graphs summarize the data in the RAND study I linked before. A study which identified several areas that were likely impediments to student improvement. Comparing US students to other countries (2003 – 6):
    “Students in the United States performed near the middle of the pack. On average 16 other industrialized countries scored above the United States in science, and 23 scored above us in math.”

    [i]”Researchers also made note of the fact that while the United States has [b]one of the biggest gaps between high- and low-performing students [/b]in an industrialized nation…”[/i]

    To repeat my earlier point: some schools, and some districts, are dragging down the numbers. That’s where we need to focus our attention.

    As noted in our previous discussions, Finland topped the list.

  74. Don Shor

    Interesting footnote to this discussion.
    One of my son’s peers is about to receive her undergraduate degree, and needs a graduate-level certification in her chosen field in order to be employable. The two schools that provide it are San Jose State and UCLA, neither being a place she wants to live. But SJ has it as an entirely online program. She can live in Berkeley, as she wishes, and get her credential without ever setting foot on the San Jose State campus.

    So the place I really see your education vision coming is at the community college and undergraduate university level. Self-starters, people who have a high level of comfort in that mode of learning, and those who already have the lower-division background will readily opt for it. And it will be useful at the high school level — again, for self-selected individuals who want that approach. Someday, perhaps, a majority of high school students will want to learn by interactive modular systems. But it will be a gradual process of increasing facilities for that. I don’t see the cost savings at the high school level that you are expecting.

  75. Edgar Wai

    I think education is one of the systems where society can make graduate changes in different directions as the system itself can tolerates much diversity. This is a good thing because it means that we can always try new things without taking a huge risk that the whole system would collapse.

    Do we want to talk about Davis specifically? It is easier to fact check and to identify actionable improvement.

    At UC Davis, there is a group that does this specifically, they are the Graduate Teaching Community ([url][/url]). It is a rewarding group because members of that community are usually TA’s, and they share and try what they learn.

    I don’t know if there is a community for K-12.

    Does anyone want to discuss something more abstract but fundamental? Such as “How do you teach yourself how to learn?”

    If each person takes ownership of their education, then education becomes less sensitive to the quality of the education system.

    When the students are good, you can’t tell if the teacher contributed anything–the students might have learned the same things when the teacher is absent. But a teacher that students rely on to learn is not a good teacher, because the teacher didn’t teach the students how to learn on their own.

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