View Mobile Site

Time to dismantle Sacramento and rebuild from the ground up

Text Size: Small Large Medium
POSTED May 21, 2009 1:35 a.m.
A crisis, they say, brings out the best in people. True leaders rise to the occasion. Dark times call for bold and decisive moves.

So what is coming out of Sacramento in the aftermath of Tuesday’s referendum on the ultimate buck passing?  It’s time to “cut, cut, cut.”

Now that is really going to change the way the state does business.

I realize I’m not an expert at taking $10,000 campaign contributions, talking in platitudes, nor do I have any desire to have my likeness inundating thousands upon thousands of mailboxes like a modern-day Tokyo Rose bragging about what a great job I’m doing saving the economy, creating jobs, protecting  the environment, and finding a cure for the common cold.

Having said that, here’s a suggestion:   Instead of just cutting why not gut the old bureaucracy and rebuild it?

The state bureaucracy is modeled on the same theory that guided the building of the Winchester Mystery House. There are a lot of useless passages that leads nowhere and non-stop repetition that would give Alfred Hitchcock vertigo.

The California Legislature could start with the Department of Education. Instead of cutting, it is time to dismantle it and the ranks of bureaucrats that would give China’s standing army a run for its money in sheer size

In its place, reconfigure the 50-plus county offices of education into seven or so super regional offices of education. Decentralize the oversight of implementation of state programs to the super regional offices of education. Cutback on redundancy wherever you can find it in the bureaucratic ranks.

Local districts up and down the state have been rethinking how they get the job done by eliminating administrative positions and redistributing the work. All Sacramento is proposing doing is cutting.

County offices of education came out of the necessity of a young state born in the Gold Rush boom.  They aren’t necessarily the best way to do things nor having a large legion of bureaucrats in Sacramento.

The rebuilding should be based on one die-hard principle: All administration – state county and local – should account for no more than 10 percent of every dollar spent on education. Right now it is way past 25 percent. The money needs to go to the classroom.

Once that parameter is in place, you can build the bureaucratic and administrative structure that you can afford.

It makes no sense to have thousands upon thousands of paper pushers in Sacramento whether we are flush with money or not. The idea is to educate kids, not proliferate the bureaucracy.

How we got to this point is brutally simple: We no longer trust teachers.

There was a day when teachers were the queen – or king – of the classroom. It was one thing to take away menial chores such as requiring them to make sure wood was stockpiled and water was pumped. It was an entirely different story to believe that teachers didn’t know how to teach. Initially it started as “supporting” teachers. Then it came to usurping their judgment.

Why spend five to six years educating a teacher and encouraging them to follow through with continuing education by offering step raises for more units and then turn around tying their hands through a legion of bureaucrats in Sacramento?

Our entire education system is upside down. It isn’t the fault of principals or district administrators although if you have bad ones it doesn’t help. We have given people who might as well be stationed in the Australian outback for all the connection they have to day-to-day teaching the ultimate power  to dictate what happens in the classroom while giving them a big slice of the limited education tax dollar pie.

Will there be kids that slip through the cracks? Yes. Here’s the rub, though. Kids are falling through the cracks big time right now. Don’t look now, but thanks to the mess Sacramento has created it is about to go from a steady trickle or stream to a torrent.
Commenting is not available.

Commenting not available.

Please wait ...