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How education could shape the governor’s race in California: funding, accountability, charter schools

By in Press Enterprise on January 10, 2018

By Contributed Content

By David Cantor, LA School Report

One lens into California’s size is its public education system. Six million children under the age of 18 attend public schools — including 600,000 in charter schools — while nearly 3 million students are enrolled in the state’s storied higher education system, which is still struggling to recover from decades of underfunding. The largest teachers union has 325,000 members.

Although the contest to succeed Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown next November has only recently begun in earnest, early indications suggest education — along with issues like jobs, housing, and transportation — will be near the center of debate. With only 22 percent of state voters saying they approve of Donald Trump — and more than half saying Congress should refuse to work with him — the winner is likely to enjoy unusual influence in the state, and perhaps nationally, on education and other issues.

“I think this is going to be an important race,” said John Deasy, CEO of The Reset Foundation, a Bay Area juvenile justice reform organization, as well as a former Los Angeles schools superintendent. “My view is the current regime in Washington has actually not pushed California further to the left, it has pushed it further into the national spotlight.

“I think we need a statesman,” he said of the gubernatorial race. “We need a proxy president.”

For the first time in years, the candidates will have an opportunity to offer big-picture education solutions that aren’t tied to a funding crisis. Brown, who is 79 and will term out next fall after one of the most successful political careers in state history, has presided over a series of spending improvements, including boosts to improve student equity and a localized funding formula.

More is needed: California continues to score poorly in an annual evaluation of school financing systems, […]    

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