January 25, 2013: In his State of the State message yesterday, California Governor Jerry Brown emphasized the need for local control of education, saying "Sudsidiarity -- the idea that a central authority should only perform those tasks which cannot be performed at a more immediate or local level ...is offended when distant authorities prescribe in minute detail what is taught, how it is taught, and how it is to be measured...."
Working up to this idea, Brown said, "We seem to think that education is a thing -- like a vaccine -- that can be designed from afar and simply injected into our children...as the Irish poet William Butler Yeats said, 'Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.' "
...In California’s public schools, there are six million students, 300,000 teachers—all subject to tens of thousands of laws and regulations. In addition to the teacher in the classroom, we have a principal in every school, a superintendent and governing board for each school district. Then we have the State Superintendent and the State Board of Education, which makes rules and approves endless waivers—often of laws which you just passed. Then there is the Congress which passes laws like “No Child Left Behind,” and finally the Federal Department of Education, whose rules, audits and fines reach into every classroom in America, where sixty million children study, not six million.
Add to this the fact that three million California school age children speak a language at home other than English and more than two million children live in poverty. And we have a funding system that is overly complex, bureaucratically driven and deeply inequitable...