New Priorities: Governor Brown Overhauls California Education

It started with a message from Ben Austin, Executive Director of Parent Revolution. He announced his departure from the California State Board of Education at the behest of incoming Governor Jerry Brown. Austin’s announcement stated his ongoing commitment to pursue charter schools and other options “outside the system” for parents dissatisfied with their bottom-ranking public schools.

Just a few days later, Brown removed 7 out of the 11 California State School Board members and replaced them with his own. Most of these are seasoned educators, administrators, and school superintendents. One, Bill Honig, has removed himself from consideration for appointment, with no reason given.

The LA Weekly points out that pending regulations on the petition process for parents using the “Parent Trigger” law passed in 2010 will be finalized and approved under Brown’s Board, and not the pro-charter-friendly board of the previous administration.

The LA Times and the LA Weekly both have assessments of the new appointees. They’re scheduled to be sworn in on Friday, January 14, 2011.

One professor of education remarked that not only was Brown parting ways with a pro-charter agenda, he was also putting distance between the state of California and President Obama’s Race to the Top agenda:

“The governor has selected some of the smartest policy thinkers in California. They’re experienced, they’re thoughtful and they’re largely independent minded, with the exception of the CTA staffer,” said Bruce Fuller, an education professor at UC Berkeley.

“But the move does signal that the governor is breaking from President Obama’s reform agenda quite sharply…. The downside of that is, if not the Obama reform agenda, what is the governor’s specific plan for lifting public schools? It’s an independent, smart and sage group, but will they coalesce around a pointed and aggressive plan?”

Given the state’s size, its 6.2 million students in almost 10,000 public schools, it’ll be interesting to see how Governor Brown pilots education policy for this influential state.

Related Stories: 

Four Reasons Finland’s Schools are Better Than Ours

Homophobic Congresswoman to Head Subcommittee on Higher Education

California Governor Jerry Brown Poised to Eliminate Secretary of Education Post


Photo credit: Neon Tommy (originally posted to Flickr as Jerry Brown) via Wikimedia Commons


jane richmond
jane richmond6 years ago


Ann P.
A P7 years ago

"The US has lost its cultural integrity through far too much alien cultural infusion..." Like when only white, male, landowners could vote? Or when we allowed slavery, or put native americans on reservations, or let in the Irish, or the Italians, or the Poles, or the Chinese, when we allowed non-whites and women to vote... at what point exactly did we loose our "cultural integrity?"

Past Member 7 years ago

maybe this is going in the right direction...but i still have two problems initially...whenever there is a problem within the school system, they gather all the leading educators they can find to solve the problem...and this in itself is a problem...get some non-educators to encourage unique solutions outside the box....and the next issue is of the number of students in many are illegal immigrants? whether we want to consider it or not....illegal immigrants does put a strain on EVERY SINGLE PUBLIC SYSTEM, including schools...perhaps part of the problem is having to pay to provide language services....the first thing to do is to see where the money is going and then ask sacred cows any longer.....

Helen D.
Helen D7 years ago

It will be interesting to see the eventual consequences of Governor Brown's changes. I must say, if California has had "the lowest ranking public school systems", maybe it is high time for a drastic change.

K s Goh
KS Goh7 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Kunal A.
Past Member 7 years ago

A different administrator, a different leader and a different school of thought doesn't necessarily mean a positive difference. Only time will tell whether Brown and his people are moving in the right direction or whether they're shoving an already weakened education system further into the quagmire of mediocrity.

James J.
James J.7 years ago

Finland lacks diversity, and spends less per child on education than the US, so to make it more like Finland he needs to cut spending and remove racial diversity, the first won't happen because Moonbeam is a union stooge, and the second is simply impossible, so he'll do nothing.

Ernest R.
Ernest R7 years ago

It is a good idea to get the best of other systems as Finland has done. However we don;t have the same kind of people as Finland has. Few of our children are willing to learn. The US has lost its cultural integrity through far too much alien cultural infusion, stimulating in smaller amounts but destructive and smothering in larger ones.

Carole L.
Carole L7 years ago

I don't know what is the right thing to do to improve education. It still isn't clear to me what he plans to do to improve education. I hope it works.

Sound Mind
Ronald E7 years ago

Jerry takes care of business. He's not beholdin' to the puppet masters that rule in WA DC.