In the News: How California Gov. Jerry Brown Fought the Federal Government on Education Policy — and Won

Writing for the 74, Matt Barnum takes a long look at education policy in California, where Governor Jerry Brown has been leading the charge against testing and accountability at a time when the federal government has been backing those policies.

ednext-june2016-blog-ototn-jerry-brownIn describing Brown’s approach, Barnum writes

His point is that efforts to quantify education are doomed to fall short because of the inherent complexity, necessity of human judgment, and subjectivity of “correct” answers.

It’s a view that seems to have deeply shaped Brown’s ideology, and by extension California’s public schools, which serve over six million students in grades K-12. During his tenure, Brown has been one of the foremost critics of federally driven efforts to use data to improve education — and one of the most effective.

If Washington, D.C. went to one extreme, in focusing on test-driven accountability policies, as some argue, California has gone to the other: placing a lengthy pause on school accountability, devolving control to local districts, eliminating certain data systems, and declining to tie teacher evaluations to student test scores.

Barnum notes, however, that Gov. Brown is not easily categorized.

Like Duncan, he has generally embraced charter schools, which in some ways epitomize his view of expanding local autonomy and innovation, but are viewed negatively by many teachers unions.

Brown started two of his own charter schools in Oakland, as mayor, even writing a commentary about them for the journal Education Next. As governor he vetoed a union-backed bill that would have been banned for-profit charter operators.

The article Brown wrote for Education Next was “A Few Good Schools.”  In it, he explains why he started the two charter schools: a military college-prep academy and a performing arts academy.

– Education Next

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