Thursday, January 23, 2014

Gov. Brown: THE STATE OF THE STATE …OF PUBLIC EDUCATION + smf’s 2¢ on the Principle of Subsidiarity

A few words on public education from Governor Brown

by LA School Report |

Gov. Jerry Brown

Gov. Jerry Brown

Posted on January 22, 2014  ::  In his State of the State address today, Gov. Jerry Brown spent a few minutes talking about public education in California. Here’s what he had to say:

“Last year, I spoke of the principle of subsidiarity, a rather clunky word that nevertheless points to a profoundly important principle, namely that in our federal system there are separate layers of government, each with its own distinct responsibilities. The Oxford English Dictionary defines subsidiarity as the idea that a “central authority should have a subsidiary function, performing only those tasks which cannot be performed effectively at a more immediate or local level.”

No better example of this can be found than in your enactment last year of the Local Control Funding Formula. This was a major breakthrough in the way funds are allocated to California’s schools so that our laws explicitly recognize the difficult problems faced by low-income families and those whose first language is other than English. As a result, those with less are going to receive more and that is good for all of us.

But something else is at work in this Local Control Funding Formula. Instead of prescriptive commands issued from headquarters here in Sacramento, more general goals have been established for each local school to attain, each in its own way. This puts the responsibility where it has to be: In the classroom and at the local district. With six million students, there is no way the state can micromanage teaching and learning in all the schools from El Centro to Eureka – and we should not even try!

Last week, 324 people from across the state traveled to Sacramento to speak to the State Board of Education about the merits of this new law and the regulations which should be adopted under it.

Principals, teachers, students, parents, religious groups and lawyers, all came forward to express their views. Now that shows interest and real commitment! But their work is just beginning. Each local district now has to put into practice what the Local Control Funding Formula has made possible. That, together with new Common Core standards for math and English, will be a major challenge for teachers and local administrators. But they are the ones who can make it work and I have every confidence they will.”

Take a card, any card…

2cents smallsubsidiarity (səbˌsɪdɪˈærɪtɪ)


1. (Roman Catholic Church) (in the Roman Catholic Church) a principle of social doctrine that all social bodies exist for the sake of the individual so that what individuals are able to do, society should not take over, and what small societies can do, larger societies should not take over

2. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) (in political systems) the principle of devolving decisions to the lowest practical level

Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003

Jerry Brown, the Jesuit seminarian, was exposed to the Principle of Subsidiarity in that context – which espouses local control at its most local: In the individual. In either definition: 1. Catholic or 2. political it’s the anti-hierarchical principle of libertarianism.

What Subsidiarity isn’t is pushing decision making down from the State to the School District level when effective decision making in the social hierarchy should be – in ascending order:

The School District

The Local Office

The School Site

The Department or Grade Level

The Classroom and the Teacher

The Parents

The Individual Student

,   ,,at no time in the in the limited-to-non-existent process of involving the community in planning for  LCFF and the LCAP out has-or-will anyone say: “We want the the superintendent and his sponsors on the northeast corner of the 24th floor of Beaudry to run the show!.”  Didn’t happen/never will.

Brown touts education accomplishments, priorities in upbeat State of the State

By Kathryn Baron| EdSource Today

Gov. Jerry Brown highlighted his accomplishments in education during his State of the State address on Wednesday. Credit: Office of Gov. Jerry Brown

January 22nd, 2014   ::  Gov. Jerry Brown highlighted his accomplishments in education during his State of the State address on Wednesday. Credit: Office of Gov. Jerry Brown

Gov. Jerry Brown highlighted his education accomplishments in an upbeat State of the State on Wednesday that marked the final address of his current term and laid out priorities for the coming year and his likely reelection campaign.

In remarks that were remarkably brief, just 17 minutes long, before a joint session of the state Assembly and Senate, Brown dedicated a portion of his speech to his educational priorities and accomplishments. He thanked voters for passing Proposition 30, the 2012 ballot measure that authorized temporary tax increases to fund education, and he praised legislators for approving historic school finance reform by enacting the Local Control Funding Formula, which he called a “major breakthrough in the way funds are allocated to California’s schools.”

In addition to providing additional funds to improve learning for low-income students and English learners, the new funding formula also puts into law the principle of “subsidiarity,” or local decision making, which is one of the governor’s guiding philosophical tenets.

“Instead of prescriptive commands issued from headquarters here in Sacramento, more general goals have been established for each local school to attain, each in its own way,” Brown said. “This puts the responsibility where it has to be: in the classroom and at the local district.”

To underscore the goal of encouraging community participation in education, the governor cited last week’s State Board of Education meeting in Sacramento, where more than 300 people turned out to give their views on implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula.

“Now, that shows interest and real commitment,” Brown said.

Dean Vogel, president of the California Teachers Association, the state’s largest teachers union, lauded the governor for putting his faith in school communities, teachers and administrators. While acknowledging that the union hasn’t always agreed with the governor, Vogel said Brown has been a good partner.

“The encouraging part is you’ve got a governor saying, ‘Look, we can do this, let’s work together and solve the problem,’ which is very different than what we’ve heard from other governors, which is more like, ‘You’ve got a problem, fix it,’” Vogel said.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson attended the State of the State address and was pleased with the governor’s focus on education in the speech and in his budget proposal released two weeks ago.

“It made for a happy start to 2014,” Torlakson said in an interview. He added that the governor has “kept his promise to keep education as a top priority in the budget with the $10 billion for our K-12 schools and some money for higher education.”

Reaction was more muted among advocates of early childhood education, a subject that Brown didn’t even mention in his speech.

“California stands in stark contrast to New York, where yesterday Gov. Andrew Cuomo joined the growing list of national leaders focusing much needed attention on investing in early learning,” said a statement released by Raising California Together, a statewide coalition of several dozen organizations and unions advocating for increased access to child care. “Gov. Brown is correct to say that education is a priority for California, but if we want kids to succeed in grades K-12, we need to set them up for success from (infancy) to five.”

Ted Lempert, president of Children Now, a nonprofit that works to improve the health and well-being of California’s children, agreed.

Lempert said he was “thrilled” that the governor focused so much of his remarks on education, particularly Common Core State Standards and the Local Control Funding Formula, and would have “loved to hear something about early learning and more on education and children’s health.”

But he wasn’t surprised by the omission.

“Unfortunately not, because in the budget proposal he was pretty silent on anything for early learning,” Lempert said. “We’re obviously hoping that the governor changes course on that with the May [budget] revise.”

Brown’s speech gave little indication that he’s willing to make any significant additions to the budget. Instead, he was clear about the need to create a rainy-day fund that protects the state from the natural pattern of economic ups and downs that California is just now recovering from.

“So we can’t go back to ‘business as usual,’” Brown said. Then the former seminarian reached into the Bible to make his point. “Boom and bust is our lot and we must follow the ancient advice, recounted in the Book of Genesis, that Joseph gave to the Pharaoh: ‘Put away your surplus during the years of great plenty so you will be ready for the lean years which are sure to follow.’”

Going deeper

Full text of Gov. Jerry Brown’s State of the State address

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