Gov. Jerry Brown wants more decisions made at the local school level. IMAGE BY Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

Brown: What makes you think Legislature can fix it?

Who should decide how to fix schools that need help?

In this video taken by CALmatters at the Berggruen Institute's Five-Year Anniversary in Beverly Hills May 3, Gov. Jerry Brown said he wants more decisions made at the local school level because the teachers and principals are best able to deal with the problem.

"If the parent screwed up things, and if the principal's no good, if the principal can't lead, if the superintendent isn't very good, if the local school board isn't so good, what makes you think that the Legislature can fix it," Brown told the invitation-only audience.

This year, California is planning to overhaul its school evaluation system to include more than test scores. The issue is contentious because there’s a debate about who -- the state or local school district -- is responsible for the lagging academic performance among Latino and African-American students.

The State Board of Education is looking to add graduation rates, how fast English learners gain proficiency and other indicators to comply with a new federal law about school evaluation.

That has civil justice and education reform groups worried. They want to include measures of school climate in an effort to drive down suspension and expulsion rates that have been linked to the school-to-prison pipeline. More than 50 civil rights and education reform groups sent him a letter this week asking him to recommit to helping high-need students, the majority who are black and Latino.

The fight is spilling over into the Legislature over a bill that would require local districts to track how safe and supported students feel on campus. The state school board appointed by Brown is resisting such measures.

Gov. Jerry Brown at Berggruen Institute's five-year anniversary celebration

Here is the transcipt of the governor's remarks about schools:

Schools, we've done a lot for the schools. We've returned authority -- more and more authority -- to the local districts.

Now local districts might screw up. 

I understand that but think of this: If the parent screwed up things, and if the principal's no good, if the principal can't lead, if the superintendent isn't very good, if the local school district isn't so good, what makes you think that the Legislature can fix it? Think about that.

If the culture is such that we're not stressing discipline and learning and curiosity and all the things we have to do to train our people, it's not going to happen.

So I do think we have to set goals, we have to have accountability, but we have to respect the fact that those closest to the problem are the ones most capable of dealing with it.

Hence this whole problem of how do you have a federal system? What does the school system do? What does the state do? What does the congress do?

What does LA do? What does California do? What does America do?

They have the same problem in Europe with the European Union trying to allocate responsibility. So I think we're pretty close, I think it's pretty good the way we've done it now.