California Cassino

The Golden State is anything but. Yet again, California is in a budget crisis--this time it faces a $14 billion deficit. "For several years, we kept the budget wolf from the door," said Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. "But the wolf is back." And while that wolf may take a bite out of the state's education funding (Schwarzenegger is expected to propose $1.4 billion in education cuts), the governor indicated this week in his State of the State speech that Canis lupus is not chewing up all of his "Year of Education" reform plans. He pledged that California will become the first state to intervene in school districts which have for five years not met No Child Left Behind academic requirements (there are 98 such districts in the state), that high-performing schools will be able to apply for waivers that exempt them from the more-prescriptive aspects of the state's voluminous education code, and that California will improve the quality and accessibility of education data. Yes, it's a start. But it pales alongside the estimable and comprehensive education reform package recently laid on the Gubernator's desk by his very own Committee on Education Excellence, chaired by Ted Mitchell (find analysis of the report here). Some of the report's recommendations are pricey, though--the study recommends, for example, $6.1 billion in new education spending. So perhaps the governor is simply playing the best he can with the budget hand he's been dealt.

"‘Wolf is back' at state budget door," by Michael Rothfeld, Los Angeles Times, January 9, 2008

"Governor intends to pull up 98 rock-bottom school districts," by Nanette Asimov, San Francisco Chronicle, January 9, 2007

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