Non-californians may wish to skip the electricity issue, though the demagoguery there is probably clearer. But he proposed to expand middle school by 6 weeks! (actually he said "30 days", which one might think meant 30 classroom days, but later on he says "it's just one month" so maybe he's including weekends, and just means 4 weeks of classroom time). Still it will give us the longest school year in the nation, at least until some other governor ups the ante.
You know, I've never seen a governor beat up on 7th-graders before! He shortened their vacations and gave them more homework. He has also just made Algebra a requirement for high school graduation.
It's brilliant. Normally, when you attack a group, you may win the votes of others, but you lose some votes, too. The trick is usually to pick a widely-hated group to be the "enemy" -- the tobacco industry, or now the owners of power plants. But nobody HATES middle schoolers, (well, except the ones who skateboard on our street), yet they're a great target -- they won't be old enough to vote until he's done with his second term. And when the governor spoke, I could hear the cheers of parents all around the block (well, I could imagine the cheers, anyway).
Educationally, is it sound? I suppose it is, and full-year schooling would be still better (why *do* we insist on such long vacations?). Certainly, there's nothing sacred about the status quo. (Giving teachers some opportuntity to learn outside their own teaching responsibilities is also important, but might be accomplished in other ways than a 12 week vacation once per year).
In the speech, he said "Educators tell me that, for all the new investments we've made, the main thing they need is more time to teach." Do you think this is true? I'd agree, a little more time would be good (can they move the AP test back until June? My students should be ready by then), but around here the main thing teachers need is either more money or some sort of housing subsisdy so that they can remain in the field. (actually, they may get some of this, too, at least if they are algebra teachers)
There were some other math goodies in there (oops, is that name copyrighted now?) -- $30 million to "attract and retain" "high quality" math teachers, including 1,300 new ones. A 40-hour teacher training program (with 80 hours of "critical follow-up support") for 200,000 current math and reading teachers, along with another program for 15,000 principals and vice-principals, "all according to University of California Standards".
Is it *really* true, incidentally, that "90 % of all new jobs require advanced math skills"? I wonder which jobs were counted, which jobs are "new", and what was considered to be an advanced math skill. Ninety percent is a nice round number (nothing wrong with an approximation, if it is meaningful, of course, but if it's just meant as a figure of speech it's ironic for this to come right after his imploring young Californians to "do the math".)
I don't know why I'm writing all this -- I think all the education proposals Davis made are probably good, or at least benign, no matter his motivation or sincerity. It's just a bit disconcering to find oneself a pawn in someone else's game. I suppose teachers are used to this by now, but this time I felt like it was me, too!