Barnstorming California on Education Reform
California’s primary and secondary education system is broken. I don’t need to list the parade of horribles — we all know them. We are failing the next generation. With your input, I would like to find a better way.
You’re skeptical that any reform of value can be achieved in California. I get it. I spent the better part of the last two years having thousands of conversations centered around better education options, and the sense of helplessness and hopelessness is palpable and nearly universal. Yet, if you’re still in California, it suggests that you think there may be a chance to improve our fortunes and revive the imperiled California Dream. As I do.
So what should be done?
I am planning a statewide tour this spring to meet with anyone else interested in the future of K-12 education in California. My intent is to put all options for reform on the table and discuss them vigorously among those who not only care about our children but are also ready to roll up their sleeves and take on the institution that has failed us for far too long. Once we come to some form of agreement, we can collectively decide the best legislative and political way forward.
To do that, I have set aside a tentative list of dates from the end of February through the end of April that I am available to travel to your area and meet with like-minded education advocates and parents — you, your neighbors, and associates. You can find the list of proposed dates at this link. Such an event could take place in a church, auditorium, conference room, barn, or gymnasium — anywhere dozens to hundreds of people can comfortably gather and freely speak.
Before these meetings can start in earnest, my team and I at the California Policy Center need to locate venues for about a dozen regional forums in places like (but not limited to) Orange County, San Diego, Los Angeles, the Central Coast, the Central Valley, NorCal, the Sierras, the Bay Area, greater Sacramento, and Inland Empire. As we secure venues and coordinate dates with a local host, we can begin to address logistical issues and advertise publicly.
Can you or anyone you know help me find suitable locations and identify some options for dates?
This is not a listening tour, a series of lectures, or gripe sessions. It’s a large-scale focus group I will actively moderate in two-hour sessions. I want to invite open dialogue that will allow us to diagnose the problem and engage with attendees in a lively exchange on potential changes, improvements, and/or structural reforms necessary to realign our educational priorities and trajectory for a thriving 21st century California. I welcome sharp opinions and informed disagreement about viable, possible or quixotic alternatives at every stop.
Once the initial spring tour is complete, I plan on spending the summer pouring over the results of these meetings with my team at CPC and developing a set of comprehensive education policy proposals likely to gain broad support among Californians.
Will you join me in this venture? Are there others who should be involved that I may have missed? If so, please share this invitation with your friends, colleagues, neighbors, or allied organizations.
I look forward to being with you in the coming weeks and months. Our kids are worth it.
Lance Christensen is the Vice President of Education Policy and Government Affairs at the California Policy Center and former candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction.