"It's obscure and makes you smarter than everybody," he told about 1,000 people at a California Chamber of Commerce breakfast.
Brown's statement was in English, and the audience laughed. It came as the Democratic governor discussed his week-old proposal to spend $1 billion to implement new English, math and other subject standards in California's public schools.
Brown said he was skeptical about a new curriculum but that the one he is proposing to fund will "make our schools more challenging, more interesting" and foster more critical thinking.
"I'm skeptical as hell about a new curriculum," Brown said. "I went to St. Ignatius, took four years of Latin. They told me you couldn't think if you didn't have four years of Latin. Now I can't find anybody that takes Latin."
However, Brown said, "I don't find that many people who think, either, so, maybe those priests were right."
PHOTO CREDIT: Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at the California Chamber of Commerce's annual Host Breakfast in Sacramento on Wednesday, May 22, 2013. AP Photo / Rich Pedroncelli