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Topic: California -- Election Aftermath
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 15,675
Registered: 12/3/04
California -- Election Aftermath
Posted: Nov 5, 1998 9:31 PM
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[Note: Many thanks to Bill Jacob for very recent information regarding the
election results of last Tuesday and the goings-on in CA.]

Delaine Eastin, Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) in CA, was
reelected. She is a moderate Democrat. Eastin's opponent (Tuchman) received
$500,000 from the Packard Foundaton for politcal ads during the latter part
of the campaign. David Packard's foundation has been giving substantial
grants to school districts that adopt the fonix program "Open Court".
Because of this link, it is not likely that Eastin will be too friendly to
the back-to-basics crowd.

Proposition 8 was defeated. It would have created an Education Czar who
would have published (i.e., public information) who the good teachers and
the bad teachers are (based upon standardized test scores). Also, it would
have put all curriculum decisions into the hands of parent committees on a
school-by-school basis.

The reelection of Eastin and the defeat of Proposition 8 were priorities of
the California Teachers Association (CTA), especially because Tuchman and
Governor Wilson, who campaigned for Proposition 8 across the state, are so
strongly pro-voucher and publicly have called for an end to "fuzzy math,"
and a return to "strict basic skills curricula." Now Tuchman and Wilson
are history, so to speak, but one needs to recall that Ronald Reagan was
history too in 1974!

Gray Davis, a moderate Democrat, was elected Governor - Wilson did not run.
Its hard to predict what will happen, but there is reason to be optimistic.
The first action of Governor Davis is supposed to be the convening of a
special session of the state legislature to deal solely with education
issues. This would, perhaps, include restoring Eastin's budget (which took
a 25% line item cut this last August) and hopefully will include restoring
to the SPI the authority that has been won by the State Board of Education
(SBE) in the courts over the past years.

There were rumors that the Assistant Superintendent was trying to get the
Mathematics Framework put on hold because it isn't aligned with
California's new standards. But this does not appear to be the case since
discussion of the document is scheduled for the November SBE meeting. The
SBE seems to be ready to adopt the document after Prof. H. Wu (University
of California, Berkeley) does final editing in December. This document is
touted by supporters as a "back to basics" Framework, and it will require
that instructional materials use instructional strategies described by the
Dixon-Carnine report on results of "experimental research in mathematics
education." The current version of the Framework can be found on the
California Department of Education website --
[]. An adoption of new
instructional materials aligned with "experimental research" is scheduled
for February thru April 1999.

If the CA legislature decides to amend policy to give the SPI power over
the subject matter Frameworks, things could change rapidly for the better -
both with the Framework and the February-April (1999) textbook adoption
that will determine how $250 million for textbooks can be spent. (It is
expected that the SBE will push hard to implement all the changes it can in
the next months.) But then, these dealings are of politicians, including
the SPI - who knows what will happen now that "the election is over?" One
never knows, seemingly.

However, two colleagues in CA are personally optimistic that over the next
two years things will move closer to the center since the 11-member SBE is
appointed at a rate of (essentially) three per year, but whether or not the
current Framework and the February adoption will differ from what has been
experienced in recent months remains to be seen.

Overall, it seems that the election was not too bad for educaton in CA, nor
for education in the U.S.

Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610 USA
Fax: (618)453-4244
Phone: (618)453-4241 (office)

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