LOS ANGELES — As the 2010 general election nears, I find myself getting more frustrated as to which candidate to vote for in November. As a teacher, my union recommends voting for Jerry Brown. Brown is a familiar face in California’s political scene, having been a two- term governor in the 1970s and 1980s, serving as the mayor of Oakland, and currently serving as the state’s attorney general. It is apparent that Brown has an impressive resume, at least looking at his decades of experience in politics. In fact, that’s a lot more political experience than his opposition, Meg Whitman, who apparently didn’t bother to exercise her civic duty of voting for over 20 years. But, I find myself thinking of what Brown can really do for me, or for the thousands if not millions of suffering Californians. Experience is not always an advantage.
While he has all those years of political experience, I don’t know what else Jerry Brown can do to help save California. His specific plan on education is not known. When I visited his Website www.ag.ca.gov, there was nothing on how he plans to fix the current state of education in California. Most of what’s on the site are information about consumer frauds, law enforcement, child and senior abuse, and on and on. Nothing was specifically mentioned regarding how our broken system of education can be improved. This baffles me because it is now June, and in five months, we are supposed to go and vote for Jerry Brown or Meg Whitman.
As a business mogul and one of the brains behind the success of eBay, Meg Whitman appears to be much of a novice in the political arena. But even though she lacks experience in politics, I do see her leadership and business savvy skills as a plus. She has incredible resume for having worked for Proctor and Gamble, Disney, Stride Rite, Hasbro, and several other top notch, Silicon-Valley type firm. But despite her experience in running successful businesses, I’m not quite convinced that Meg is honestly going to “fix” California.
Whitman states that part of her plan for “fixing” California’s education crisis includes “rewarding outstanding teachers and schools” (from www.megwhitman.com). My concern about this is how exactly she is going to measure these “outstanding teachers.” Some schools have teachers who only teach magnet or honors students. These are students who are mostly intrinsically motivated to succeed, are of family with parents who are deeply involved in their learning, and are often of high socio-economic status. What I’m inferring is that Whitman’s proposition to reward teachers is great, but how that excellent teacher will be picked is questionable given the fact that demographics, parental involvement, and many other factors play important role in student achievement and performance, thus teacher excellence. We should never attribute student’s achievement or failure solely to teacher’s performance. I also have concern about Whitman encouraging Charter schools, which will only segregate students and leave all low performing students and students with special needs in public schools. This will not create a “separate but equal” situation, nor will it promote the mainstreaming of students with certain learning disability. Some students will be left behind if a lot of charters emerge.
I guess my true candidate is not yet on the ballot. I don’t foresee either of these candidates- Brown or Whitman, making a great deal of impact on the state of education in California. I think we need a candidate with an educational as well as job-creating background to emerge on the scene. But at this point, it’s rather late. Perhaps the next four-plus years will produce such a person. For now, I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that who ever wins the California governorship in 2010 will at least save vital jobs such as those in teaching and nursing, and utilize new technology and what we already have to create more jobs for those who, for months, have been suffering from loss of jobs and income.