SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari on Tuesday proposed scrapping California’s complex education code, sending state money directly to individual schools rather than their districts, and offering state-funded scholarships to certain college students in exchange for a share of their future earnings.
He also said he wants to equalize the quality of instruction throughout the state to ensure that poor and minority students receive the best education possible.
Yet his proposals included few details on how he would execute his ideas or ensure that schools are held accountable for spending, teaching and testing practices.
For example, he did not say how he would ensure instructional quality after scrapping the state codes that are intended to provide oversight, and he does not detail how state money would be distributed to individual neighborhood schools under his funding revamp.
Many of the proposals offered by Kashkari, a former U.S. Treasury official and Goldman Sachs investment banker, were similar to those promoted by Republican education reformers, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. They want to see more public schools operating as charters that are freed from many of the reporting requirements other schools face.
Kashkari’s proposals also include scrapping the statewide cap on the number of charter schools in California, which can also operate without unionized teachers.
His education plan came after Gov. Jerry Brown received widespread praise for restructuring the state’s school financing system to send more money to schools with the highest proportion of low-income students, English-learners and foster children. California’s tax revenue is expected to increase by about $6 billion a year, some of which will be dedicated to education, after Brown persuaded voters in 2010 to approve temporary income tax increases on the wealthy and to the state sales tax.
Kashkari, a political newcomer who is best known for overseeing the bank bailout at the height of the recession, is trying to get through the June primary so he can challenge the Democratic governor in November. He has criticized Brown’s education changes as mere “tinkering” within a flawed system that is controlled by powerful teachers unions.
Brown “continues to pursue superficial measures that treat only symptoms instead of undertaking bold education reforms that will help lift student achievement and rebuild the middle class,” Kashkari said in Tuesday’s release.
Kashkari said freeing up school leaders to make decisions instead of state and local officials will ensure the schools are more in tune with the needs of students, but it’s unclear how individual schools could comply with a tangle of federal and state laws on a host of educational mandates, including racial parity in spending and teaching.
Brown’s campaign spokesman, Dan Newman, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Kashkari’s chief Republican rival in the June primary is state Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, who has not detailed any policy positions. Messages left with two Donnelly spokeswomen were not immediately returned.
Kashkari’s education proposals include:
— Sending state money directly to individual schools “so that teachers, principals, and parents can decide how the funding is spent.” California has nearly 10,300 public schools, so determining how much each school would receive under what criteria would be a huge challenge. Kashkari’s campaign said the California Department of Education would continue as an enforcement body to ensure students are meeting standards.
— Eliminating “the vast majority of the California Education Code, providing all schools with the flexibility that charters enjoy and transforming how kids are educated.” Yet even if California eliminated many of its own standards, the state must comply with federal education standards
— Tying funding for individual college campuses to measurable outcomes such as graduation, retention and transfer rates.
— Requiring the University of California, California State University and California Community College systems to make 20 percent of their classes available online within four years and allowing students to take classes from other systems, which he said would expand access to some of the best professors.
— Creating a state-sponsored college scholarship program for science, technology, education and math students in exchange “for a small interest in their future earnings.” Kashkari’s campaign said it did not have a cost estimate for such a proposal, but the state Legislative Analyst’s Office is assessing a similar idea.
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