How is it that governors – who have nearly ultimate power to change education laws for the better – spend most of the education space in their State of the State addresses year after year touting money as their "unique" answer to improving education in their state?
A review of Education Week’s digest of these traditional speeches shows that, regardless of party or state, almost all the nation’s chief executives punt to business-as-usual when talking about this most fundamental of issues.
The notable exception this year seems to be Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who announced he would seek to implement many of the recommendations of his Committee on Education Excellence, including the novel ideas of allowing non-traditional entities to enter the teacher-preparation market and pursuing new routes to earning a teacher credential. These recommendations won him the headline from Ed Week that the Gov "backs off planned ‘year of education’" – "back off," I suppose, because he didn’t offer the proverbial chicken in every education pot. Thus, the establishment believes, he has backed off his dedication to schools.
It all depends on how you look it.
Now the Gubernator, who has never been one to take the establishment too seriously, could be like his New Jersey colleague Jon Corzine, whose entire education focus is on money, despite his state, already among the top education spenders in the nation at $12,252 per student, being home to some of the most pathetic school systems in the world. Or he could be like the purportedly progressive Tim Kaine of Virginia, who rededicated himself to statewide pre-school, but who presides over one of the weakest charter states in the nation, ignoring for the second year now a reform that is much in-demand and, even more importantly, needed in the state. Or he could be