Reader Reaction: Jerry Brown on subsidiarity, meritocracy and fads in education

This letter was written by Frank Donahue, an interim administrator at Fontana Unified School District, in response to a Q&A with Gov. Jerry Brown on his views of K-12 education

When are the agencies involved in funding education and mandating policies going to involve real educators in the decision-making process? Most of those in positions of power have little to no practical experience in school teaching or administration. I wonder if any of those “textbooks on education politics” touches on the lack of knowledge and experience that exists at the higher levels of education politics?

On a more positive note, the LCAP process does create the potential for grass-roots decision-making that could be transformative. Again, the actual effectiveness of LCAP will rest on how close to those “roots” the decisions take place.

Lastly, Brown’s evident lack of confidence in LCAP bringing about meaningful closing of performance gaps is disheartening. It depicts an all-too-prevalent complacency that “those kids” can’t learn, which leads to self-fulfilling prophecies which only perpetuate the gaps. Rather than challenging those in charge of LCAP implementation to close the gaps, he is providing a top-down excuse for its failure. One need only point to one example of success with low-performing groups to defeat the attitude that it can’t be done. It can be done. 

Frank Donahue

Interim Administrator

Fontana Unified School District