Is Jerry Brown the model for Liberalism 5.0?
Every once in a while a major politician shocks by actually speaking in a way that politicians rarely speak, i.e., in a way that suggests that he really "gets it". What are the chances considering all the filters that prevent such people from seeing things other than the way the power establishment they inhabit presents things to them.
I've always found Brown to be an intriguing figure, but I don't live in California, and I can't say I've been paying much attention, but the education section in his State of the State Adress earlier today is something I could have written for him. Here's the relevant section, but the whole speech is worth reading:
The laws that are in fashion demand tightly constrained curricula and reams of accountability data. All the better if it requires quiz-bits of information, regurgitated at regular intervals and stored in vast computers. Performance metrics, of course, are invoked like talismans. Distant authorities crack the whip, demanding quantitative measures and a stark, single number to encapsulate the precise achievement level of every child.
We seem to think that education is a thing--like a vaccine--that can be designed from afar and simply injected into our children. But as the Irish poet, William Butler Yeats said, "Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire."
This year, as you consider new education laws, I ask you to consider the principle of Subsidiarity. Subsidiarity is the idea that a central authority should only perform those tasks which cannot be performed at a more immediate or local level. In other words, higher or more remote levels of government, like the state, should render assistance to local school districts, but always respect their primary jurisdiction and the dignity and freedom of teachers and students.
Subsidiarity is offended when distant authorities prescribe in minute detail what is taught, how it is taught and how it is to be measured. I would prefer to trust our teachers who are in the classroom each day, doing the real work - lighting fires in young minds.
My 2013 Budget Summary lays out the case for cutting categorical programs and putting maximum authority and discretion back at the local level--with school boards. I am asking you to approve a brand new Local Control Funding Formula which would distribute supplemental funds -- over an extended period of time -- to school districts based on the real world problems they face. This formula recognizes the fact that a child in a family making $20,000 a year or speaking a language different from English or living in a foster home requires more help. Equal treatment for children in unequal situations is not justice.
With respect to higher education, cost pressures are relentless and many students cannot get the classes they need. A half million fewer students this year enrolled in the community colleges than in 2008. Graduation in four years is the exception and transition from one segment to the other is difficult. The University of California, the Cal State system and the community colleges are all working on this. The key here is thoughtful change, working with the faculty and the college presidents. But tuition increases are not the answer. I will not let the students become the default financiers of our colleges and universities.
BTW, my jaw almost hit the ground when he brought in 'subsidiarity'. It's something I've written frequently about here, but have never heard an elected politician talk about. Here's a post I wrote about subsidiarity when I was running for School Board in 2011.