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Daniel Weintraub

California Insider

A Weblog by
Sacramento Bee Columnist Daniel Weintraub

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« June 21, 2006 | | June 26, 2006 »
June 23, 2006

May revenues up $379 million

State tax revenues in May were $379 million above the estimate for the month in the May revision of the budget...Here is the Department of Finance report. It's always interesting to see how the budget negotiators react to May revenues. They can either ignore them and figure the upward bump might get washed away by a later drop. Or they can add them into next year's budget, as one-time revenues, to ease the way toward a deal-closer.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:45 PM

Term limits reform

According to Capitol Weekly, legislative leaders are leaning toward a term limits proposal that would create an independent commission to consider possible changes. That would make a nice parallel to the independent redistricting commission that is apparently headed for the ballot. But will voters buy it? Probably not if it is open-ended. Perhaps if it were worded to give the commission the authority to adjust the term limits law as long as the total number of years served in the Legislature was not allowed to increase. This would simply be another way of creating the plan everyone thinks is the most politically doable: 12 years in one house or the other or a combination of the two.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:20 AM

LA school plan

This LA Times article on Mayor Villaraigosa's school reform plan shows why it should not be approved quickly, without a thorough public airing and debate. The biggest potential problem with the plan is that it blurs the lines of authority and accountability. It gives teachers, and their union, control over the curriculum at the school site but still leaves the principals, the superintendent and the elected district trustees responsible for the results. Local control is good, but not when it is disconnected from accountability. Here is an excerpt from the article:

United Teachers Los Angeles has long chafed under what it considers overly rigid mandates from the district's top officials, and the union has wanted more leeway for teachers to decide what works best at their schools.

But teachers and principals at several L.A. Unified campuses said the mayor's proposal could ravage districtwide reading and math programs that they say have brought continuity to thousands of classrooms and helped drive up standardized test scores over the last six years.

Uniformity is important, the educators said, because 28% of the district's 727,000 students leave L.A. Unified schools at least once during a school year, with many of them going to other district campuses. Requiring schools to use the same programs enables students who move to keep up with lessons, the educators said.

"We need to put the children first," Cahuenga Elementary teacher Grace Blanc said. "I think the consistency is what the children need."

Such resistance to Villaraigosa's plan echoed warnings by school district leaders this week about what they perceived as a threat to the district's progress and revealed deep divisions between some classroom teachers and their union leaders, who forged the agreement with the mayor.

The plan also calls for the mayor's office to assume direct control of a handful of particularly troubled inner city schools. I wonder if, at those schools, the teachers will dictate the curriculum. If not, why not? Shouldn't they have the same freedom that the mayor wants to give to every other school in the district?

Posted by dweintraub at 7:09 AM



At Crossroads, a panel of experts and the public debate the future of health care in California. We'd like you to join the conversation.

Daniel Weintraub


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