K-12 EducationUpdates

Our Next Governor

Last week I reported that Governor Newsom falsely told an interviewer that the state was unable to reopen schools during COVID because the state constitution requires local control of schools, which isn’t true. After my email, some local school officials contacted me to report that Mr. Newsom’s statement actually contained two fictions. Not only was Mr. Newsom’s assertion about the constitution untrue but also his administration imposed statewide standards that controlled school reopening and even when those standards were met the administration did not always press districts to reopen until school employee unions agreed.

That’s what happens when elected officials are too afraid or too ambitious to protect public school kids and their families. Mr. Newsom is not the only elected official in California to fall into that category, and in a way you can’t blame them. That’s because they know their political futures will suffer if they don’t do the bidding of school employee unions, who you can’t blame for pursuing their own interests. That only changes if there is a reliable ecosystem of political philanthropists who persistently support governors with the guts to support public school kids and their families.

Parents shouldn’t have to worry that they short change their kids’ futures by sending them to public schools but despite record tax increases that produced record school spending, millions of California parents must do exactly that and few can afford private schools. So, how about electing a gutsy governor in 2026? Focusing on a governor’s race would be a new remit for GFC but then again we never thought we would take on a ballot measure as we did with Prop 30 in 2022 or promote other political philanthropies as we are doing now. An early start would be required, in part to attract candidates who might not otherwise be willing to run, and electoral success would be just the beginning of our task because the new governor would need persistent support, including in the legislature, to protect public school kids and their families.