09 August 2014

California Cuts Back on Investments in the Future

Pat Brown - current governor Jerry Brown's dad - was governor of California from 1959 to 1967. In 1960, he made California the first state in the nation with a college system designed for all high school graduates. The University of California (UC) system that included Berkeley and UCLA was designed for the top 25% of high school graduates. The State system that included San Diego State University and Fresno State was designed for the top 50%. The community college system was designed for all high school graduates. At the time, it was an incredibly visionary - seemingly excessive - investment in the future.

I'm not alone in believing that it is no coincidence that California is the state that later became home to two of the great advances in human history: Silicon Valley and Bio-tech. But there was real lag between Pat Brown laying the foundation in 1960 and the founding of Apple and Genentech in 1976, much less the tech boom of the 1990s.

All that to say that it's worth paying attention to the fact that the golden state is now cutting back on its investments in education. Not only is it becoming more expensive for college students but even in K-12, the state is failing to invest. California has the worst pupil-to-student ratio in the country.

It's hard to imagine this is going to mean anything good for the state in 2030. Jerry Brown has helped to balance California's budget, showing himself a more able accountant than Arnold. Now we can hope that he shows himself to be as savvy an investor as his dad and reverses California's fall into educational mediocrity.

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