O’Connell: Improved outlook for schools

July 27, 2011

Jack O'Connell

Jack O’Connell, former State Superintendent for Public Instruction, said Tuesday that he believes the future for education in California is improving. [California Watch]

O’Connell, who still maintains a home in San Luis Obispo, made the remarks to a group of about 60 area school officials at the Sacramento County Office of Education. After leaving office in 2010, O’Connell signed on with School Innovations & Advocacy, an education lobbying firm based in Rancho Cordova.

In analyzing the state of education, O’Connell told the group he believes the California economy has turned a corner and that schools will not have to shave off up to seven additional days from their calendars.

“Hopefully with the continuing economic recovery that we’re experiencing, we’ll have enough revenue that we’ll avoid the pulling of that trigger. That’s my hope and my expectation,” said O’Connell.

Although lawmakers gave districts the same amount of funds as last year, the new budget contains the possibility of midyear cuts if the state doesn’t meet its revenue projections. Under the worst circumstances, districts could be forced to grapple with a $248 million cut in school busing funds and shave up to seven days off the school calendar.

O’Connell expressed some disappointment that this year’s budget failed to include taxes to help schools. However, he predicted that education would become a rallying cry for new taxes during the 2012 election, as several education groups have been discussing a push to generate more funds.

“Education is where you hook up your wagon,” O’Connell said.

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“The economy and schools are great? What’s he smoking?”

MJ doesn’t make you stupid, just more relaxed about it. God Bless

My brother was the head of all the Army schools in Europe for a long time and he told me the kids excelled because the parents took an active roll at school in the teaching much like the teachers. As I remember the parents roll was mandatory-no choice. Most times the mom’s were at school just like the kids. Too bad that isn’t happening here. Hell, the teachers can’t even belt the ones that are disrupting the class.

Corporal punishment might sound all fine and dandy – until the one needing punishment has a hundred or so pounds on you.

Also, we really cannot mandate stupidity. Stupid people will often have stupid children. Not always, and sometimes a child might figure out how dense their progenitors are and possibly escape their fate. But for a government to force people to do anything (including properly participate in their own child’s life) is not a good thing. Government should just govern, not control. Society needs to police itself – I know that’s a pipe-dream, but I really do not want anymore government involvement in my life.

Jack is 100% wrong when he claims “California economy has turned a corner” and “with the continuing economic recovery that we’re experiencing…” Is he serious? Is he living in the same state as me?

I was thinking the same thing… what Kool Aid has he been drinking? Then he gets all “homey” and country on us… hooking up wagons, indeed. What a tool.

Another white male bean counter with a canned smile telling us good things. If you want reality, come on down to the trenches with the people who actually do the teaching.

Not going to miss an opportunity to inject racism, sexism, or a self-imposed guilt? All in two sentences, impressive… in a bad way.

Oh, happy jack, what dream world have you been in for all these years?

Why are the schools in this state ranked at or near the bottom of test scores?

Why are the buildings crumbling and any expansion is into older mobil units?

Where is all that lotto dough that was promised?

Why is management and administration growing yet you lay off teachers to balance the books?

Why like all liberals do you think that raising higher taxes is the answer? Oh, that’s right so you can waste more of our money…

As a taxpaying native son, I paid school tax for decades and had no children. Now that we do and our kids are suffering the waste of all those tax dollars you jack were supposed to spend wisely…

Side bar:

I grew up and went to schools in so cal and those schools were in much better shape than those today, the fields were green and mowed, the buildings were kept in shape and up to code, there was only one teacher for 30 students(no yard duties or teachers aides), we were taught very well by great teachers from books that actually related real history, science and math, we had hot lunches cooked by staff on site everyday if so desired, sports programs were fully funded, we had several after school programs and went on many field trips.

Today is much different and though the needs are the same, the management is not doing a good job of managing, the amount of waste is horrendous and there is simply no accountablilty.

” the management is not doing a good job of managing, the amount of waste is horrendous and there is simply no accountability.”

That’s the American way. There is waste, non-accountability and I’ll add bureaucracy in just about everything and that goes for the private sector as well as the govt..

“Why like all liberals do you think that raising higher taxes is the answer?”

The cost of living goes up yet you think that schools should continue with the same funding. It seems like our schools have failed to teach the right basic math. If the cost of paper goes up then how are the schools supposed to absorb that increase without getting more funding through taxes? People aren’t making as much so the schools aren’t getting as much in taxes as they should be plus the govt keeps taking money from the schools for other things. If you want to continue to let the wealthy get off tax free then you will have to continue to have your taxes raised. Since Bush lowered the taxes for the wealthy and you are allowing the loopholes then this is what you are choosing, you are making a deliberate choice to pay for the wealthiest 2% of this country so instead of complaing just keep bending over and let Exxon and the rest of them give you what you’re asking for.

Don’t get me wrong, I agree about the waste and that needs to be addressed. Jack is not to blame for these problems, just as with the Prez and our Governor. these problems started before they came into the mess.

Simply not true, typo. I mean, yes there is waste and non-accountability in the private sector, but not in “just about everything” – basically, only the very large corporations with close government ties (and contracts).

You will be hard-pressed to find such things in your day-to-day businesses. Waste = lost profits, and lost profits means you go away. The government doesn’t have to worry about going away, so it only encourages waste and abuse.

Go visit House of Bread in SLO, or any number of restaurants and bakeries… you’ll see there is no room for waste and abuse. Then remember, that small businesses ARE the private sector, and the largest chunk of it to boot!

That was before we became a debtor nation, losers fighting over scraps like pelicans behind a fish market .

Oh come on Jack, who are you trying to kid. The California school system is a disaster as are the local school districts. The higher ups (good old boy network) are drawing down very similar retirements as the police and fire departments. When was the last time that you saw a management position given up along with those of the teachers? The first place that is affected by the poor financial management of schools is in the classroom not at the top where it should be.

Next time you go to a local convenience store turn the electricity off when your checking out and see how long you have to wait before someone is found who can determione how much change you should be getting back. How successful are the “clients” of our school system. Like most everything else in California they are ranking very low within the educational system.

Perhaps he believes we’re so at rock bottom, there is only one way to go? Nah, he’s just another tool.

I like Jack, I think his heart is in the right place and over all I think he had done a good job as State Superintendent of Schools. The down turn financial situation was out of his hands due to the terrible economy. With that, I want to be a princess that doesn’t mean I’ll be one. Wishing, wanting etc. isn’t the same as reality. I want the schools to do better too and of course I hope they do. I’d like to know what in the near future he sees that many of us don’t. IMO I feel that we will have another 2 years of this down turn before we start seeing things moving up again. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

I think this is more like AFTER the fall of Rome. Mr. O’Connell is no Romulus. How long did the “Dark Ages” last?

I agree w/some of your post Typo, that we can wish for or want something but that just doesn’t make things happen. Just curious, how have your own kids fared in CA’s public schools? Our kids’ ages run from elem-HS and unfortunately, things have not improved in their various schools; they’ve gotten worse. WAY worse. :(

Excellent questions…

I for one, when comparing how I faired in public school, to how my kids do today have come to the conclusion that the system is much worse and very wasteful. I in turn have to blame management and administration for this down turn.

Teachers and coaches have not gotten worse, their job decription has not changed, but the way our tax money is spent has and those in positions of leadership and power like “happy jack” are the very the reason why things in the CA school systems are in the crapper…

Wow easy$$, your comment is spot on correct. Very well said. May I nominate YOU to be the next CA School Superintendent? :) We need more folks w/some common sense.

I somewhat agree. However, I do not think the teachers have not changed. I have noticed that they are younger, and more often than not “maleducated” themselves and much of the crap they want to teach (at least at the K-6 elementary level) is pretty useless touchy-feely self-esteem nonsense that has destroyed public education over the past 40 years.

Sorry, I cannot hold teachers indemnified on this one. True, there are some incredible teachers out there, but I feel they are more and more carrying the weight of all the teachers as the newer ones come out of the appalling university system to teach.

maleducated you are educated stupid?

My kids have done well in our schools. Yes there’s been a few issues but over all we have been very lucky. We went through Shell Beach School, it was excellent, we went though Judkins at a time when we had a very good principal. High school is ongoing. Many of the classrooms are falling apart and in desperate. The parents have to donate supplies and do a lot of fund raising. The teachers are putting out quite a bit from their pockets and have too many students. But other than maybe 2 teachers they have all been excellent. One of the reasons for such success at Shell Beach is the high parent volunteerism. In one class in grade school the parents had to be put on a waiting list to volunteer because at least one parent from each student in the class requested to volunteer in the class (30 kids). But that was Shell Beach, not all schools are that lucky. Now this coming year, don’t know. Each year seems worse as far as supplies, class sizes and conditions of the school buildings. But it’s 10 times better than the private school that one of my children was enrolled in (was supposed to be an excellent school and very expensive).

The biggest issue that I see with schools right now besides the lack of funds (although that is a terrible problem) it’s with the parents. Many (not all) of the kids are rude and spoiled. They dress and talk trashy and cheap. We would never have been allowed to dress and talk like the kids do today. Plus not all school districts are the same. We have a terrible school board, thank goodness for good teachers. You know that last year they shortened the school year and they might even shorten it again this year.

I went through most of my grade school in Europe. That was a long time ago and even back then the schools in Europe were much much better than ours and their schools are still much better than ours.. When we moved here I was a few grade levels above my classmates. We should follow whatever they are doing.

I would love to join Jack in never never-land… it must be wonderful up there. More taxes? The economy and schools are great? What’s he smoking?

If the California’s economy ‘turns around’ — and it is still on a nose dive — it might be abated temprarily if Jerry Brown gets his hands on the $400 million or so sequestered in the UC and CSU’s… so much for advocacy for education.

I hope that some folks who run for local and state office use — as O’Connell’ suggests — raising taxes as a campaign pledge… I wonder how many silly people would vote for that?