Posted on | November 5, 2010 | Comments Off
I have an actual Jerry-Brown-for-governor pin. Bought it from a Democratic Party booth at a street fair in Palo Alto. The governor should remember that when he’s passing out those plum jobs. While I didn’t witness a feeding frenzy for Brown or see too many of those pins being worn, I have high expectations for our recycled governor-elect.
He ran a brilliant jujitsu campaign, allowing Meg Whitman to destroy herself using her own money to do it. (On the other hand, she didn’t need a lot of help.) If Brown can carry those skills with him, he can tackle the huge job ahead.
Partly, my high expectations are a function of age. I know what it’s like to be 70 and to have no ambitions other than doing the best I can in my present situation. I’m not running for anything, looking for a job or for fame. Neither is Brown. He ran for president once, when he was about 38, in a farcical campaign that lasted about six weeks. He’s not going to do that again. He, like the rest of us grizzled veterans, can answer the question straight on: What kind of California do you want to leave to your children and grandchildren?
But mostly my expectations for our governor-elect rest on the fact that he is what Meg Whitman said he was: a career politician. I like career politicians; the ones that are not criminally corrupt or sold out, which does diminish the numbers by some. They know stuff. During its glory days, Sacramento worked because long-standing legislators, office holders, and staff deeply understood how at least a portion of government worked. They also know how to get stuff done.
Not unsurprisingly, there’s been lots of advice and commentary. The best summary of the California election comes from George Skelton, the capitol’s wise man. Brown is going to need all the wisdom he’s got, because the voters have made it difficult to fundamentally fix the fiscal problems. Brown will have to restore trust in government before the voters will come close to funding education and fixing the infrastructure.
John Fensterwald and his stable of scriveners have dished up some thoughts about what to do about public education. Installments one and two feature a range of writers from Arun Ramanathan at Ed-Trust West to former U.S. Education deputy secretary, Mike Smith and editor/sage Peter Schrag. My contribution is there, too.
I’ve also weighed into policy windmill tilting with a piece on labor relations based on a piece that Julia Koppich and I did some years back in the American Journal of Education. For the full text of the AJE piece, go to the projects link above. For the shorter piece at Top-ED, click here.