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Local control for California's public schools

by Steve Poizner, published

Parents, business leaders and educators have lost faith in our public schools. For example, 25% of teachers in the Los Angeles area send their children to private schools. There is no more telling statistic than this. Ironically, California’s public schools were once the standard by which other state systems were measured.

California’s future is dependent on a well-educated and innovative workforce.  To provide this, we must once again have the best public school system in the nation—it’s that simple. When I spent a year teaching 12th grade American Government at Mt. Pleasant High School in East San Jose, I learned firsthand the problems facing our public schools in California.

Over the past 20 years the control of public schools has shifted from the local level to Sacramento. Teachers and administrators today have almost zero control over the facilities, the classroom and the budget. This must change. The control of our public schools must be returned to the local level. Parents, teachers and locally-elected school boards have a far greater understanding of the unique needs of their schools than do politicians in Sacramento. Returning control to the local level will improve accountability, better ensure that students achieve grade-level proficiency in core subjects, and see that school facilities are adequately constructed and maintained.

After spending a year teaching at Mt. Pleasant High School, I co-founded the California Charter Schools Association - the state's leading charter school organization. Since I became involved in the charter school movement, the number of charter schools in California has doubled. Perhaps we could apply the same flexible rules for local control that govern charter schools to the entire public school system.


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