Most of California is experiencing weather people the world over dream of. It’s spring time and a lot of people are on some sort of break, including our illustrious presidente, Will Swaim. For good or ill, he turned the reins over to me until our new Communications Director gets access to the email distribution list. I promise, this newsletter will be better when she takes over the controls next week.
Speaking of our new Communications Director, Chantal Lovell – While “new” as an official staff member, Chantal’s no stranger to CPC or our work. The team first collaborated with her back in 2014 when she was leading communications at the Nevada Policy Research Institute and we co-launched TransparentCalifornia.com. Then, she went on to work at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy – our partner in educating California government workers about their right to leave a union. She comes to us most recently from the State Policy Network, where she’s spent the past several years working with CPC and free-market groups like us across the country to ensure every worker is aware of their union membership rights, and enjoys freedom at work. As a born-and-raised Californian, she’s eager to focus on her home state to ensure it is a place families and businesses can thrive for generations to come. Check out her most recent interview with Dick Morris of Newsmax about attempts to export some of California’s worst labor policies nationwide. She starts at the 14-minute mark.
A 2020 study revealed that San Diego Unified’s white students earned better grades than their minority peers. Myriad pedagogical responses might flow from such an observation – a voucher system, for instance, that liberates kids from lousy union-run schools, after-school interventions, or a district-wide curriculum freed of identity politics and whittled-down to English and math fluency. But San Diego officials voted simply to inflate grades so that everybody wins. No more “grading a student based on an average of quizzes, homework assignments and tests,” CBS News reported. Ditto for such “non-course factors” as “turning assignments in on time and classroom behavior.” This is just one example of San Diego Unified’s trouble with reality – others include schools closed for the last year; multiple federal investigations; official harassment of high-performing charter schools; and a collapsing education budget. But now there’s hope for San Diego: Joe Biden has nominated the district superintendent who presided over this catastrophe, Cindy Marten, for the No. 2 job at the U.S. Department of Ed. San Diegans might cheer Marten’s promotion upstairs – it would alleviate at least one real danger to their children, leaving them to worry about scary dogs, lice and sticker bushes. Her federal confirmation would also underscore the consistency of a system that accepts failure in the classroom as well as its public school administration. At her recent Senate confirmation hearing, Marten got a bit grilling she rarely faces at home. Asked by Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to pick any federal regulation she’d like to see go away – you know, wave a wand and make a bad law disappear – Marten said nothing came to mind. Asked by Utah senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) why she has kept her district’s schools closed for over a year when the science shows they can be safely reopened, Marten pulled the string in her own back and uttered phrases that sound like English (“as you know,” “a complex topic,” “system leader,” “best decisions given the evidence and the circumstances and the resources,” “a safe path forward”) but baffled Romney and anybody with a lick of sense. Senate observers expect she’ll win confirmation, and the rest of the nation will have one more reason to understand why California is the nation’s leader in nut production.
The latest print edition of National Review is dedicated entirely to our own beloved (and benighted) California. In 20 amazing essays, writers including Ben Shapiro (“Why I left California”), Joel Kotkin (“Sacramento vs. the economy”), and (get this!) David Mamet (“The New Zealander Comes to California”) explore the decline of California. It includes CPC president Will Swaim describing the history of the California left’s hatred for suburbs and CPC board member David Bahnsen on what’s driving the California exodus. We’re tempted to ship 200 copies to the statehouse in Sacramento to offer a counterpoint to the toxic waste dump that is our statehouse. But would it really edify? To paraphrase one of the many memorable lines from Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross, we’d wish our state lawmakers good luck but they wouldn’t know what to do with it if they got it.
Untotal Recall: In this week’s Radio Free California podcast, CPC President Will Swaim and board member David Bahnsen consider a recent poll that shows, if they voted today, Californians would keep Gavin Newsom where he is (feckless, but still governor), and a legislative proposal to hand out taxpayer-backed no-cost debit cards to “poor” Californians. What could go wrong? In related news, the state is no closer to tracking down the nearly $31 billion in unemployment benefits it mistakenly sent to criminals.
On ensuring California families can live and thrive in this state – Considering various state and federal issues (including reactions to the more-than-likely recall election to determine if the governor stays in his well-protected Sacramento mansion or heads back to his estate in Marin) the Public Policy Institute of California published their latest Californians and their Government poll this week. As a regular survey series to gauge peoples’ views of the state of California, figuratively and politically, one of the survey questions and its follow-up caught our attention. “Does the cost of your housing make you and your family seriously consider moving away from the part of California you live in now? If yes: does it make you consider moving elsewhere in California, or outside of the state?” A not-so-stunning 43% of Californians say that the cost of housing is making people seriously consider moving out of their part of California. But of those people who want to move, 77% would prefer to leave the state entirely. There was no follow-up question on whether those people will stay long enough to cast a vote in the recall. In a related story, the San Francisco Business Times reports that “For high-net-worth individuals, it is precisely 62% less expensive to live in Dallas than it is to live in San Francisco.” And for all those not-high-net-worth individuals, it’s still a good deal.
Shining sun on the sand & lifeguards – Who’s not moving out of the state? That’s right! Los Angeles beach lifeguards. It’s a sweet gig if you can get it, especially since it was difficult for most taxpayers to actually get anywhere close to the beach this last year during quarantine. I’m not sure if there were any lifeguard furloughs during the times the beaches were closed or capacity was severely limited, but I’m confident web-surfing is part of their rigorous duties. Thanks to Transparent California, government watchdogs can remind Californians that part of the reason their cost of living is so high isn’t only due to the horrendous tax and regulatory burdens, but stiff competition with lifeguards making $400k a year.
The screens are off and nobody is home – Larry Sand puts forward another solid column discussing the negative impacts the government-induced lockdown is having on our kids. Despite the rapid changes in reopening requirements for counties, children are experiencing learning loss beyond simply forgetting math facts or an incapability to diagram sentences or conjugate verbs. The problem is that many students have simply forgotten how to be students. At the very least, most, if not all students are having difficulties reconciling months of distance instruction with actual learning needs and teachers need to figure out quickly how to close the gap. These kids are not likely to return to normal even if the school bureaucracies can get with the “science” and allow for more kids in classrooms. This should be a serious concern for every compassionate Californian.
Does someone need to write sentences on the chalkboard? Those teacher union members who have grown accustomed to a lifestyle of asynchronous education are increasingly more uncomfortable with the legitimate complaints of parents frustrated at the lack of meaningful instruction. A few plucky teachers have taken to lashing out on social media and through personal communications in ways that are unbecoming of teachers. A recent California Globe story shares a few attacks that parents are enduring when their tax-subsidized, government teachers make outlandish claims and threats. If only there were an open principal’s office to be sent to…
Legislators are reading CPC’s research – Perhaps teacher-union apologists are resorting to name calling because they fear the word is getting out. In the words of Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, “The California Policy Center estimates the state spends $20,642 per student. Imagine if that money were in the hands of parents.” If your family had $20,000 plus to spend on your child’s education, perhaps they’d be sitting in a charter school, getting access to incredible homeschool pods, attending a private-school classroom today, or receiving some other form of education that would have kept them learning this past year. To learn more about just how much we are spending per pupil during the pandemic, check out Ed Ring’s report here. And if you want to help us do more of this kind of work, consider donating today.