California has real problems. Why is Sen. Josh Newman meddling with the OC Board of Education?

Anybody with eyeballs can see that California faces serious problems. 

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(Photo by Michael Kitada, Contributing Photographer)

Under their mismanagement, the governor and state legislators have produced nearly $2 trillion in unpayable debt, an historic $68 billion budget deficit, and the nation’s highest unemployment rate, income taxes and cost of living. 

More than half of all homeless people in America live on California’s streets and in our shelters. 

Thanks to clumsy regulation, our gasoline and other energy prices are the most punishing in America. 

Despite spending more than $23,000 per student, our K-12 schools continue to produce some of the nation’s worst student outcomes – much-hated Florida, operating with much weaker teachers unions, is No. 1, according to U.S. News; we’re No. 38.

Given all that and more, it’s hardly surprising that record numbers of Californians – and California businesses – are fleeing the state.

Anybody with eyeballs can see that California faces serious problems. 

Under their mismanagement, the governor and state legislators have produced nearly $2 trillion in unpayable debt, an historic $68 billion budget deficit, and the nation’s highest unemployment rate, income taxes and cost of living. 

More than half of all homeless people in America live on California’s streets and in our shelters. 

Thanks to clumsy regulation, our gasoline and other energy prices are the most punishing in America. 

Despite spending more than $23,000 per student, our K-12 schools continue to produce some of the nation’s worst student outcomes – much-hated Florida, operating with much weaker teachers unions, is No. 1, according to U.S. News; we’re No. 38.

Given all that and more, it’s hardly surprising that record numbers of Californians – and California businesses – are fleeing the state.

Despite Newman’s claims to the contrary, the bill would use jack hammers, duct tape and political power to create two new seats in Democrat-dominated neighborhoods. That would seem designed to allow teacher-union-backed candidates an easy path onto a board they once controlled. 

Each of California’s 58 counties has a board of education, a group of citizens elected to oversee the finances of all school districts in their county, deal with difficult and highly specific issues, and act as an appeals board when something goes wrong.

Defying the leftward trend of state politics, Orange County’s board has remained in what was, just a few years ago, California’s moderate center. The board supports a range of policies Newman and other state lawmakers would do well to embrace. It has greenlighted high-performing charter schools in poorer communities, more than doubling their number from about 14 in 2018 to 42 today. The board has allowed parents greater freedom to move their children from low-performing districts to better ones. It has endorsed the right of parents to know what their children are learning at school.

Perhaps most significantly for Democrats in Sacramento, the Orange County board has been a pain in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s backside. In high-profile court cases, represented for free by public-interest law firms, Orange County’s board of education beat Newsom, creating the legal space for California’s nearly 1,000 local school districts to maintain some authority over the opening and closing of schools during the governor’s worst-in-the-nation closures, and it pushed Newsom to end his state of emergency authority. It’s worth noting that the board’s lead attorney is a Democrat.

That sort of support for school choice and local control is, of course, toxic to teacher union activists eager to maintain their monopoly control over schools. Teacher unions collect member dues to bankroll the campaigns of school board candidates who, once in office, return the favor in the form of lower academic standards, higher pay and benefits, and new taxes and debt schemes to finance all of it. In California, taxpayers actually pay teachers to work fulltime for their local union – a provision they call “release time” but which you and I might reasonably call “legal corruption.” You can chart the decline of California’s public schools with the rise of teacher union power, beginning in the 1980s.

Newman insists he’s interested only in expanding American democracy. 

“Since the last time the Orange County Department of Education was modified, in 1977, the population of Orange County has more than doubled,” Newman told me. “If you believe, as I do, that a smaller unit of government tends to be both more responsive and more accountable, then increasing the number of trustees on the county board should produce a more representative and responsive board.” 

There are multiple reasons for skepticism about that claim. 

First, if lack of political representation is a problem in Orange County, it’s even worse in San Diego – just five trustees for an even larger population. Why doesn’t Newman care about San Diego? Perhaps it’s because that board is already “reformed” – dominated, that is, by teacher-union-backed Democrats.

Second, there’s Newman’s timing: The urgency to add seats to the Orange County Board of Education was of no concern so long as teacher-union candidates routinely won a majority on the board. Newman’s bill emerges only now, when the board is dominated by trustees who act independently of – sometimes at odds with – teacher union activists. 

Third, if Orange County’s population growth is truly the imperative for greater representation, why not reform the county’s Board of Supervisors – still just five members after all these decades? The answer is simple: That board is controlled by Newman’s fellow Democrats, and so Newman is silent.

If Newman were honestly concerned about representative democracy – about increasing the number of public officials representing smaller districts – he’d look around his own office inside the state capitol. Since 1879 – 145 years ago, when California’s population was less than one million – the state legislature has had precisely the same number of state legislators it has today: 80 members for the Assembly, 40 for the Senate. In that time, of course, California’s population has increased to about 39 million. I’d recommend that he read former gubernatorial candidate John Cox’s “The Newsom Nightmare: The California Catastrophe and How to Reform Our Broken System.” (I’ve already had the author send Newman a courtesy copy.)

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

Comments

  1. Tired of the Bull CRAP! says

    Appears that most politicians think – because they were elected – that they’re NOW very intelligent and infallible!! Sorry – guys – THAT AIN’T THE TRUTH!!! If you were a dumbass before the election – you are STILL a DUMBASS afterward!!! Stop putting your ignorance in front of you. Stay out of what you have NO expertise!!!

  2. It is simple the Democrats will never give up the chance to change and twist social life for their big government and radical left politics.

    Nothing new here …. move along nothing to see.

    This what dictators do.

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