WatchSonoma Watch

GUEST OPINION: Making students the focus

Jim Judd

Jim Judd was the Republican nominee in the 6th Congressional District in 2010.

In their March 12 Close to Home column ( “Promote understanding not scapegoating”), Jessica Jones and Michael Aparicio wrote about perhaps the foremost duty we have: educating our children so that they will become responsible, knowledgeable, productive members of society.

However, their essay didn’t focus on providing the best education possible in our changing, more limited financial climate. They chose to emphasize a feeling of victimization on the part of educators.

A scapegoat is “one who bears the blame for others,” according to Merriam-Webster. The teaching profession is one of the most important a person can undertake. And the rest of us who depend on teachers don’t want to shortchange them, impugn them or in any way prevent them from fulfilling their commitments to their students. But attempts to raise the education bar (such as parents in Southern California who want to implement the “trigger law” to convert to a charter school) are not scapegoating. They are pinpointing where current educational practices are letting down their children and then working within the system to redress those weaknesses.

If a school is failing, dismissing the principal, for example, is perfectly reasonable. If certain teachers are unable to help their classes meet established learning benchmarks, it should be possible to replace them. Holding educators responsible for their own productivity or lack of it it is simply common sense.

Federal, state and local coffers are running low after decades of overspending. This is an undeniable reality requiring adjustments everywhere, including our school systems. To what are students truly entitled? A full school year, adequate materials and teachers who possess the ability to teach their subjects competently. When and if school districts are in a financial position to provide for more than the basics, those are welcome added benefits, but they are not indispensable.

California, as noted in a study posted online by the state Department of Education, “has the most students, a diverse group of students, more English learners than any other state and substantial numbers of students from low-income backgrounds. At the same time, the state has fewer school staff per pupil than all but one other state and spends less than the national average per pupil.” The study also notes that “California has consistently ranked at or near the top in average teacher salary.”

According to another study, also on the Education Department website, “More than four-fifths (82.9 percent) of statewide spending for schools goes to pay for the salaries and benefits of teachers and other staff.”

So educators who really have the students as their first priority should consider that when there is a limited dollar pie, they might have to give something.

Jones and Aparicio write of upcoming events. First, on April 8, Assemblyman Jared Huffman will lead a panel discussion at Santa Rosa Junior College. Looking at the list of participants, the absence of any conservative perspective is glaring. Perhaps this could be remedied, if not on April 8, then at the two events that will follow in this series?

As for the appearance by Norman Solomon later in April, unless they are referring to another Norman Solomon who has advanced degrees in education and labor negotiations, the question ought to be what will a public policy author and activist add to considerations about the budget constraints we face in education?

Again, it is the proper education of our students that deserves the focus. That cannot be accomplished if educators would rather turn the spotlight on themselves. So let’s zero in on how we are going to provide quality education with our inevitably smaller budgets.

49 Responses to “GUEST OPINION: Making students the focus”

  1. anderson says:

    @Cherie Maria

    A person can have more degrees than a thermometer and still spout biased, idiotic opinions.

    All you need to do is read comments from some of the SSU faculty on this forum to confirm this fact.

  2. On this is an issue, we are trying to use public policy as a substitute or replacement for a sound, intact cultural fabric that supports educational achievement. Until there is cultural support for education:
    - parents who are at least as demanding of their children as they are of the schools
    - popular culture that respects and encourages education
    - youth and civic groups that do likewise
    - media that focuses on academic achievement
    - far less mindless consumption of media by students
    - etc
    then spending more will only marginally effect the educational outcome. As long as we have to bribe students to stay in school, threaten and cajole staff, plead with parents to educationally discipline their children, we are sunk. The cultures that provide strong support for education (eg; Asian, Hindu, Jewish) will continue to thrive both educationally and financially. The rest of us will fall farther and farther behind.

    There is no question, funding and policy are needed to broadly achieve a high level of educational accomplishment. Throwing money at the problem is not a solution, that has been proved repeatedly across the nation. Building this mandatory cultural support for education is something that public policy and funding probably cannot accomplish. If we don’t figure out how to do it, we are absolutely and inevitably going to continue our descent down the ladder of prosperity.

  3. Common Sense says:

    @Kirstin and Joyce,
    Very well said. Thank you and I totally agree.

  4. Kirstin says:

    Actually, no, I’m not, Michael. Do you think you are the decisive arbiter of what the subject is? The PD had every right to focus on underperformance as it did, and its editorial came out (obviously) before your Close to Home so the argument can be made that you changed the subject from performance to funding. Discussing (as the PD did) performance and parents who want their children in charter schools isn’t scapegoating, it’s pointing to a problem with and hoped-for solution in our school system.

    You certainly could have chosen to focus just on funding in your piece since you feel that is so important. But you didn’t. That gave your article the flavor of “whine” about how educators were being treated (“scapegoating”) — something you repeated in your last comment.

    In the end what is happening in the schools has to be about the students first and foremost, not the faculty and administrators, and your piece didn’t make that clear.

    As for funding, you evidently think getting more is the most important subject and the solution to the difficulties with our schools. I disagree. I think we need to take a hard look at our school system and overhaul it with more transparency, less bureaucracy, and seriously enhanced performance in mind.

    Perhaps we will have the chance to discuss this further on April 8….

  5. Kirsten, you are misrepresenting the Close to Home piece Jessica and I wrote. I noted multiple example of others taking advantage of our funding crisis, and in different ways scapegoating educators. One way is when the PD Editorial addressed “underperforming schools” without recognizing the significance of funding, then advocated for an alternative system that is performing significantly worse than our public school system. We were not changing the subject. We were critizing another’s attempt to change the subject, then later added that our community is better served if we stop doing that and pursue an informed discussion about our funding crisis.

  6. @ RB, I encourage education and believe it is a vital element in our growth as individuals. I have a great respect for our teachers whose passion is to reach out to our children and pass on the gift of knowledge. I open my mind each day to the possibility of learning whatever the world has to offer and share, whatever it may be, with others. It is because of my father’s life’s travels he instilled in his children the necessity of education, so that we could give our families the comforts and opportunities he was not given.
    I do not, however, close my eyes to where our educational system is failing our children. Although I have no interest in solving quadratic equations, it does not lessen my worth. I explain to my children, if the theory of evolution is to be taught in our schools, so should the teachings of creation in order for each person to make up their own minds on which they believe…..and to question why our schools don’t teach both. It’s because of my respect for education and because I value our children’s future, I will not turn a blind eye to the failures in our educational system or the obvious fact that we must weed out the educators whose agenda is placed before even those they teach. That in my opinion is in direct opposition of education. Children first, should be the motivation when teaching.
    So RB, it’s not that I have developed a poor view of education….I value education. I have developed distaste for are those who place their education above those who do not have a certificate or letters after their sir name or those who are unable to understand an opposing point of view is neither right nor wrong. What I have developed distaste for is boasting about accomplishments and making assumptions about someone they know nothing about. All that education and you would assume my family was poor?
    Thank you dad for instilling in me what truly matters in life.

    Also….thank you Ted for putting my dads words as the Quote of The Day!

  7. Kirstin says:

    @ Michael Aparacio: Just some off-the-cuff replies to your comment.

    I for one would certainly welcome a future (not too future) event focusing on educational performance with knowledgeable and spirited viewpoints from all sides of the spectrum. Given the poor performance that we’ve seen in schools over the last decades, both fresh ideas and a reconsideration of proven methods used in the past should be considered for revitalizing our schools (K-12 and college). Another point of discussion should be how to return more control to the local level, and how to significantly reduce the red tape that schools must deal with today.

    We live in a complex age, to be sure, but in terms of social and political matters (as opposed to scientific and technological advance), the less we “complexify” the better. Endless laws, regulations, contracts, agreements, guidelines, etc. only lead to less transparency in such as education. Herein lies perhaps some of the divide between “educators” with their degrees in the subject and those “non-educators” (as you term them); educators, whether willingly or not, deal with that bureaucracy, those complications while non-educators (whether they have degrees in other subjects or not) may, like me, become very impatient with all that and want to cut to the core again of bringing the lifeblood back to the classrooms.

    So, perhaps it isn’t too surprising to see your opinion’s statement “The folks who likely will be most informed as those who participate in such decisions, the types of people I invited to be on the April 8th panel,” “The types of people”? Those on that panel represent the left/progressive view far more than a right/conservative view. So you are saying that they are the ones who have been steering the education “boat,” correct? I would not disagree they’ve been in charge, but all the more reason for the interjection now of other views. I think I will attend the April 8 event and see for myself exactly what these panelists’ views of education are.

    As for the other event, I heard Norman Solomon a few years ago when he plugged one of his books. He is a good speaker and an intelligent man, but it may not be too difficult to guess what he would say about funding schools: let’s cut back U.S. military spending and give all that savings to education — problem solved! Mr. Solomon has already declared himself a candidate for Congress in 2012 should Lynn Woolsey retire. There is nothing wrong with him speaking when and where he wishes, but he’ll be giving a political speech, not something else. You wrote, “He has vast know-how about our nation’s funding processes and is a well-known critic of our nation’s spending priorities.” Yes, quite. I think it was a fine gesture of you to ask Mr. Judd to join him, but the two of them exchanging their fiscal philosophies would not have helped us find real answers to how to maintain quality education with smaller budgets, in my opinion.

    Also, I’ll take issue with your comment that your own Close to Home piece focused on funding and that Mr. Judd erred by “conflating” funding and educators’ performance. I read your piece again just now, and although you certainly focus on funding issues, you also managed to include criticism of the PD for its editorial about underperforming schools and you noted, “If we accept this editorial’s oversimplified caricature, underfunding is irrelevant to underperformance, and the way to improve performance is an under-regulated charter system that, to date, has performed significantly worse than our public schools.” It seems to me that you and Ms. Jones opened the door to discussing both. You then discussed efforts in other states to change teacher union situations. There it seems that in your views, school funding is more about educators salaries and benefits and bargaining positions than about students. When you write, “Unfortunately, some seize upon an education funding crisis as an opportunity to scapegoat educators and misleadingly undermine our public education systems,” you, it seems to me, are telling the readers that schools problems should not be attributed to performance but only to funding, and that, in effect, if we could just take money from other things and pour it into teacher salaries and other budget items, all would be right with education. I’m oversimplifying, but that is what can be read in your opinion piece. This, I would counter, is a faulty assessment. Teacher performance, essential to the success of our schools, must be included in any calculus of how we go forward with school plans.

    It still seems to me that the priorities need to change: students first, educators after. I hope we hear that loud and clear on April 8, and I hope this ongoing dialogue will result in truly constructive discussions about how we can improve schools (including SRJC) with a reality of smaller budgets. Your focus may be on getting more money somehow someway, but even if you manage it for the short term, the financial situation is such that eventually all institutions funded by public money, including schools, are just going to have to learn to be all they can be with fewer funds.

  8. Liz says:

    I guess you forgot about the senate and assembly?
    Not talking Governors i’m talking about Senate, assembly, school boards, teachers etc, remember it’s not just the governor in charge.
    Oh and just because Arnold had an R by his name didn’t make him republican. He was so far from a true conservative republican it’s not even funny.
    I don’t care about the R or D by someones name you have to look deeper at the policies and voting record and CA has been run in a very liberal democratic way for years now.

  9. Kirstin says:

    @RB,I think your post about what education gave you is a great example of why we need to re-dedicate ourselves to improving what and how our students are being taught today. Yes, education is a door to understanding many things not easily or at all attainable by experience alone.

    But all the more reason to focus more on the performance of teachers and other educators. We need students who are informed and able to analyze. We need students who know history and who understand economics. We need students who have been taught mathematics and science so they will be able to continue the forward momentum in technology, computers, biology, physics, etc. Students need competent teachers, school counselors, and principals who can instruct them well.

    Jim Judd’s article said that we need to put students first, even in this time of decreasing budgets. What could be more clear? The amount of money spend per students is not a comprehensive indicator of whether students are in fact learning. Even when we could throw money at the schools, we weren’t getting adequate results. Now, budgets are drying up and yet we still have to focus on giving our students quality education. I think we can do it — IF we use common sense and don’t expect schools to deliver more than the real necessities — as Mr. Judd’s article stated, “A full school year, adequate materials and teachers who possess the ability to teach their subjects competently.”

  10. Skippy says:

    How many of those years were the Democrats the majority legislative party?
    You know, those elected folks that raise your taxes and spend your money.
    Yeah, those Democrats.

  11. RB says:

    @Joyce Rodrigues Garcia: Sorry to hear you have developed such a poor view of education. I too have traveled extensively, and have learned a great deal from my travels. But, my world-wide adventures did NOT teach me how to solve quadratic equations – a teacher did! My travels through Canada and Mexico did NOT teach me anything about evolution or the genetic code – teachers did! My solo sailing trip around the Carribean did NOT help me to learn how to program in Visual Basic – a teacher did! My wanderings did NOT get me this job I currently have – my education did! My children did indeed soar to the top of their classes. And, they did so with the help and guidance of an incredible cadre of public school teachers who gave them the skills and tools they needed to become the huge successes they are now. My children have also travelled extensively, but their travels did NOT get them the jobs they have now. Their EDUCATIONS got them the jobs they have now. I’m sure your father was a wonderful man, but if he had obtained an education, there would have been no reason for your family to have been poor.

  12. RB says:

    Ooooops! That would be 32 out the past 44 years. Apparently my math isn’t so good. :)

  13. RB says:

    @Liz: “…CA has been run by the Democrats for more years than I can remember,,,” Here are the facts:
    Ronald Reagan 1967 – 1975
    George Dukmejian 1983 – 1991
    Pete Wilson 1991 – 1999
    Arnold Schwarzenegger 2003 – 2011
    Republicans have held the Governor’s seat for 32 of the past 41 years! With all due respect, apparently your memory isn’t so good.

  14. Math Teacher says:

    @Reality Check – Why is it that you can so easily accept us being 2nd in the nation in per prisoner spending, but don’t want us out of the bottom 10% in per pupil spending?
    My point was in regard to CA being broke but it not being on the account of education. I’m trying to get you to see that we are below average in spending on education but 2nd in the nation on each prisoner.
    I agree that money does not guarantee better results. We see our prisoners have one of the highest recidivism rate as well. But please don’t argue that education spending is what has caused CA’s financial problems. We both know that is not true.

  15. When Mr. Judd’s Close to Home piece was brought to my attention, I contacted him. We had a respectful exchange during which I emphasized the following points. First, I noted that my and Jessica Jones’ Close to Home piece (which Mr. Judd criticizes) focused on the issue of education funding, and warned about those who conflate that issue and a separate issue: education performance. While both are important issues, we do ourselves a disservice when we address the first issues based on oversimplistic accounts of the second issue. As an educator, I agree with both Mr. Judd and Cherie Marie that we should be weary when non-educators offer broad assessments of our education systems’ performance. However, I also think non-educators have a right to express their opinion about education performance, and a right to expect educators to justify what they do. Furthermore, non-educators are just as capable as educators to address the issue my Close to Home piece raised: education funding. The folks who likely will be most informed as those who participate in such decisions, the types of people I invited to be on the April 8th panel; but anyone with the interest and ability to research our funding processes will be just as informed as a teacher on this issue. Norman Solomon is one such person. He has vast know-how about our nation’s funding processes and is a well-known critic of our nation’s spending priorities. Similarly, as a local Congressional candidate, Mr. Judd has committed himself to promoting conservative spending priorities. So, while I think it would be inappropriate for Mr. Judd (or Mr. Solomon) to participate in the April 8th event, I think our community would benefit from hearing Mr. Solomon’s and Mr. Judd’s views on our national spending priorities. Of course, Mr. Judd also is free to address his interest in education quality. That’s just not the issue being addressed at these forums. Unfortunately, while Mr. Judd and I had a respectful exchange and during which we discussed the possibility of promoting a future event, he wasn’t available to attend this school year. Personally, I’m hoping we can find an opportunity to promote a event on education performance, maybe next school year. While our current funding crisis is dominating our time, I think our community would benefit from an informed discussion about this other topic, too. Peace, Michael Aparicio

  16. Common Sense says:

    Why are people focusing on past election results? I guess that is the answer to why we as a state aren’t properly focused on the issue of education and dealing with our debt. Too many of us focuing on irrelevant past details.
    Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the same result, so either we wake up and make real change to the education system, and all the other broken systems for us, our kids and our local communities or we can spend trillions and it won’t change a thing.

  17. Last time I checked says:

    Lynn Woolsey: 66%
    Jim Judd: 30%

    ‘Nuff said.’

    Why again is this guy get another 15 seconds of fame?

  18. Not A Chance says:

    @Facts Don’t Lie


    I don’t know about the rest of you but i really hope Judd runs again, even if Woolsey retires he’ll be eviscerated by the democrat, again.

  19. Reality Check says:

    @Math Teacher, California’s ranking of per pupil spending depends on which source one cites. The worst case is 47th; other sources put us at about 28th. Still, below median.

    The assumption here is that additional spending results in better education. But does it? The correlation is at best weak. Other things seem to matter at least as much.

    And I’ve never understood the comparison between money spent on prisons and schools. The only thing prison spending correlates well to is crime and race. The appropriate question is: How much is society willing to pay in prison costs to deter violent crime?

    I wish lowering crime was a simple as spending more on schools.

  20. Math Teacher says:

    CA is broke. But please don’t blame education. We were 47th in the Nation in per/pupil spending 4 years ago. We have cut every year since. (we are 2nd in the nation in per/prisoner spending) If you are truly an economic conservative, and have any vision, you have to realize that cutting (gutting?) education will cost much more in the long run than funding it.
    My failures will be on welfare/unemployment, or worse be in prison. My D students will fill the lower tax brackets of the working poor. My A students will go to college and fill the higher tax brackets and give more than they receive. Which group do you want to grow? How does your level of educational funding align with this?

  21. Facts Don't Lie says:

    Lynn Woolsey: 66%
    Jim Judd: 30%

    ‘Nuff said.’

    The best argument if often the truth.

  22. Liz says:

    I will say one thing,
    CA has been run by the Democrats for more years than I can remember, and we are the worst state in the nation…..49th in education and the poorest state. Can we say CA is broke!

  23. Phil Maher says:

    Hey Ken,

    Consistency is a good thing, it’s foolish consistency that gets you.

    “Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.”

    Working within the established perspective on this issue has gotten us nowhere. Some might even call it “foolish”, and so far, it does seem pretty consistent. And then we can do it again next year…and the year after that…and the year after that……..When do we stop gutting the whole thing to the point where education becomes nothing short of asking our children to engage in something that might have once been a noble and necessary endeavor for their futures, but devolved into something that’s merely a matter of going through the motions for no other reason than that’s just the way it’s always been done? I mean really, how many cuts does it take to turn something worthy into nothing of any particular value?

  24. Ken Coleman says:

    One day my daughter will grow up and ask me why we put so much burden on their back regarding the defict. I will then have to take out our Presidents of the United States book, and try to start explaining why our fair leaders started running in the red from day one. The only difference from George Washington and our current one is the size of the administration.

    My father once told me how a government sector gets started, he said” son it’s kinda like having someone watch a single sheep in the prarie”. “One the government get’s a hold of it, you have a watch leader, a supervisor, an auditor, a planning department, a animal rights department, hospital department, and a committee to oversee all of the other committee’s’. “Son, this is wastefull spending, also known as big government”.

    I don’t care if your a Democrat or a Republican, they are both on the take. It’s time to clean house and let our voices really be heard.

  25. Kim says:

    Cherie Maria, I don’t see any credentials after Woolsey’s name in the form of education training yet with her almost 20 years in Congress she hasn’t helped the education system in California at all. If she were so deadicated, after all, wouldn’t it be fixed by now? She’s just got another two years of collecting a paycheck (probably vote or no vote for another payraise for herslef again). Gott love the progression, from welfare to Congress, living off the taxpayer all the way!

    To fix education it will not be done by someone from within the system, it will have to be someone outside the system.

  26. Ken Sportini says:

    Why are Jim Judd supporters jumping on Cherie Maria’s comment concerning Judd’s lack of credentials in the topic at hand?

    I may be wrong, but her comment was sarcastic irony, playing on what Judd himself said about Norman Solomon: “unless they are referring to another Norman Solomon who has advanced degrees in education and labor negotiations, the question ought to be what will a public policy author and activist add to considerations about the budget constraints we face in education?”

    So it’s ok to make snarky comments to Ms. Maria, while ignoring Mr. Judd’s reference to Solomon’s lack of education/experience?

    Oh, I know, consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.

  27. Phil Maher says:

    I want to borrow something from Abbey Hoffman when he was asked if there was a conspiracy among the Chicago 7-

    “Conspiracy? Hell, we couldn’t even agree on lunch.”

    That being the case here- Our kids are screwed, and we own every last bit of it. What a bunch of petty little squabblers we truly are. How sad for everyone. We’ll break this whole thing beyond our wildest nightmares, and then we’ll still do nothing but try to find someone else to blame besides ourselves for all of it. Californians and their leaders have become a waste of air. Hanging out with a comparatively balanced and tolerant bunch of people like the Mormons in Utah becomes more appealing daily.

  28. Brett says:

    @john bly – You are only off by a factor of 1,000. Most of us here know the difference between 56 million and 56 billion. Even if the fiscal conservatives don’t.
    This crisis was created by loosening of oversight in government and reckless greed of gambling on derivatives with our money. All of the gamblers have been made whole and have started gambling again and getting bonuses. States, local governments and retirees who took big hits when the economy was driven into the ditch and have not been made whole are now being scapegoated.
    The crisis is now being used as a political tool to scare people into infighting and strip money from needy, sick and young across the nation.
    Jim Judd is using it to try to get a job.

  29. @Not A CHance – You might want to read the actual opinion piece…

    enough said….

    @ Western Cluebird LOL! All I have to add to your grrreat comment is a quote from Popeye….”There’s no fool like an April Fool!”

  30. Not A CHance says:

    Lynn Woolsey: 66%
    Jim Judd: 30%

    ‘Nuff said.

  31. @Cherie Maria You seem to put an all or nothing emphasis on “degree in education” and or “public policy administration” and maybe in all of the education and status that comes with a “title or all the letters that comes after a surname.”
    My daddy had a 4th grade education, helped support his family at the age of 9 on up, traveled around the world numerous times in his life getting a firsthand education in life lessons 101 (and not in a classroom). He was one of the wisest individuals I have come across in little over ½ a decade. Let me share with you one of his quotes…..
    ”You can have all the education the world has to offer, but if you don’t have any common sense, all that education is a waste.”
    Take with you what you will from that…..and consider this, with all the well-schooled educated administrators, educators, legislators, politicians and so forth that have their hands in our education system….(as well as government) why is it failing? Why aren’t they birthing the genius’ who are going to save the world from….well, from us? Why are our children not soring to the top of the ladder? If you believe the people who are the decision makers right now are so educated and knowledgeable and that is what it takes for success…..why are we having this discussion right now?
    One more question…..do you not agree that it is about the children?

  32. Western Cluebird says:

    @ cognitive dissonance, Cherie Maria, Chris and Horace Mann,

    You are all brilliant and full of great ideas for solutions to our public education problems.


  33. Phil Maher says:


    Not everyone who disagrees is a Tea Partier. Is the reality of “Pragmatism” also now a pejorative, or is rejection of common sense now the hallmark of both the left and the right? Sure seems to be. I’ll go ahead and claim it, since nobody seems to be using it. The perfect analogy is: “he’s drowning”…”it’s your fault”…no, it’s your fault.”

    And look at Woolsey climb all over fixing this problem. Woohoo!! Fastest she’s moved in years…or did she sign a complaint letter that I’m not aware of.

    It’s not that nobody has any good ideas, it’s only that nobody is willing to listen to people with reasonable ideas, because they’ve been conditioned to fear and loathe anything that doesn’t follow the group-think of the party line. We’re in a bad mess- do we fix it, or do we let it be our undoing for no other reason than we couldn’t agree on seating assignments?

  34. Kirstin says:

    Would you like to list your degrees in education, Cherie Maria? And why this emphasis anyway? Have those with education degrees really done our schools a favor with their theories and experiments? I’d say no. It is time for us to stop relying on the people who have gotten our education system into its current, underperforming state.

    As for the one-sidedness of the April 8 panel, you seem to want to make a law against pointing it out. Did it ever occur to you that with so many events with some kind of political ramifications taking place, Mr. Judd (who co-owns and runs a business too) can’t be involved in everything. That doesn’t preclude him (or anyone) from noting the bias against conservative participation. Also, nowhere did this piece ask that Mr. Judd be admitted to the panel — you are just making assumptions according to your own bias.

  35. Cognitive Dissonance says:

    Don’t blame the parents for their fat kids, blame fast food restaurants, right?

    Jim Judd is just bitter that His two potential opponents in an up coming election were invited to speak at an event and he wasn’t- notice he doesn’t name the other speakers at the event. Also, to everyone asking why he is qualified to write about the issue, well, he’s not. He’s a PD favorite. They didn’t endorse him, but ran an awkward ‘non endorsement’ for Woolsey.

  36. Phil Maher says:

    @ Cherie Maria-

    He just did, and you just read it. If you have some solutions, let’s hear them. No degrees or credentials are necessary (we’re arguably in this mess either in spite of/because of them already). All that’s necessary for a voice is something to offer. The whole thing is going down hard, regardless of all the kicking and screaming, and even though you’ve gotten past the denial stage, it doesn’t appear that you’ve gone beyond the blaming phase yet. Whatcha got for us? And simply not agreeing with me doesn’t count.

  37. Horace Mann says:

    @Sue Yes, allowing competition (double-speak for privatization) will whip those schools into shape since the private sector always does so well. When they don’t have to be bailed out by the government.

    @Mike “…incompentent administrators in the pocket of the teachers union.” Really? You need to go back to Union 101. “Leftist ideology?” Yeah, in between teaching to the test.

    @Josh The Tea Party adults who post here appreciate Mr. Judd. Everyone else sent him a loud message in November. L-O-U-D.

  38. Phil Maher says:


    …and let’s not forget to mention the mostly progressive Democratically controlled cities and counties that engaged in an 11th hour grab to secure about $1.7 bil in redevelopment funds that would have otherwise been available largely to schools and other community programs with considerably more social value than say… remodeling shopping centers. I may have my numbers wrong, but I do believe that alone accounts for over 25% of what the state hopes to bring in with new taxes. It appears that neither party has a monopoly on strangleholds.

  39. Common Sense says:

    First, the quote in the article indicates “federal, state and local coffers are running low after decades of over spending”. He doesn’t specifically address solely education budgets. Second, maybe you skipped the lesson in school about name calling, but it’s not effective and detracts from any substantive points you may have wanted to communicate.
    I can say with absolute certainty after doing research into the issue of education and budgets, as I’m preparing to send my first and only child to school in the next few years, is that this state spends billions (currenlty, including cuts) on education and yet seems to score lower on standardized education tests then other states who spend less. Layoffs seem to always be of teachers and not administrative staff, which is higher in numbers then most other states. Having spent my youth on the east coast (NY), there seems to be an over-abundance of schools within a smaller geographic area in this state. On the plus side, we have an abundance of diversity and ability in this state and the creativity to solve this problem. However, I do agree with Mr. Judd’s observation that the focus seems to always be on the teachers/staff and maintaining the status quo, which we cannot afford any longer in any area, not just education, and not on new and creative ways to do more with less. Ensuring a good education is really the job of the local community and the State in my opinion, and we need to come together locally and begin to brainstorm some ideas.

  40. Phil Maher says:


    It’s a Democratic governor who’s targeting deeper cuts to education, not a Republican. With or without extending taxes, the overall hole in the budget looms considerably larger than what it would off-set. Since education is about half the state budget, I suppose it does make some sense on purely a numbers basis, but I also can’t help but feel that we’re again having our sympathies played for the sake of an agenda that doesn’t necessarily include any meaningful reforms. With next year’s budget deficits that are guaranteed to be the case, regardless of the current proposals passing or not, they’ll be back for more, and the same targets will again be the focus. A system that’s largely broken on many different fronts can’t be simply cobbled together on the back of just a few select components that the citizens might react to as hot button issues. That’s political gamesmanship, not meaningful change.

  41. john bly says:

    Good timing as the teachers just announced they need another $56 billion because their pension fund is low. I respect teachers too, but unsustainable means unsustainable. Maybe it is time to cut admin salaries at the top instead of cutting teachers at the bottom of the pay scale? Again-why do we need so many schol districts that all have overhead expenses? There are ways to get the limited funds to the “front lines”. Do we have the courage to do so?

  42. John says:

    The current process to remove inept teachers is ridiculous, but so is the micro management of schools and curriculum by the clowns in Sacramento.

    We need to get back to basics and cut all the special interests categorical funding. There’s enough funding when it’s not diverted to a thousand different special programs.

  43. Cherie Maria says:

    Interestingly enough Mr. Judd I can’t find any information on the degree in education and or public policy administration that you now appear to possess.

    I am also unable to find any information on the degree you now carry in finance with a specialization in K-12 education.

    I’m going to guess you have someone in mind that you feel is best qualified to offer up the “conservative” perspective on the education funding crisis, someone with intimate working knowledge of how education is funded in the State of California, the fiscal challenges the State of California is facing and the long term impacts that this will create as a result. You have no doubt researched this issue thoroughly (as established by the extensive policy research of peer reviewed materials that you collected to support your premise to this opinion piece) and have found someone who works with the Chancellors office or perhaps the Department of Finance or someone from the Minority Caucus who works on draft legislation or makes policy recommendations on legislative bills for education in the State of California.

    I am curious to know who you think is most qualified to sit on this panel and offer the “conservative” perspective that is somehow now a necessity to an event you didn’t develop or in any way work on up to this point.

    Frankly if you feel there is a compelling need to provide a perspective on an issue then you can do the work involved in finding a sponsoring organization to provide you a venue, you can organize a panel of presenters and share your arguments with the audience you reach out to by doing the work involved to advertise the event you created.

    Trying to latch on to someone else’s work this late into the game to give yourself a stage to stand on, if that is the best you have to offer, may I suggest that now may be a time for you to really do your homework.

  44. Josh Stevens says:

    @ Chris

    “This guy is a nutcase”…?

    Thank you for your educated and thoughtful discourse.

    The adults who post here appreciate the fact that Mr.Judd is willing to take the time to inject some common sense into this issue.

    He’s simply advocating for Choice in Education and for public sector accountability.

    It’s anti-reform types(like yourself)who need to “get the hell out of the way”.

    Got it?

  45. Sue says:

    The democrats have run this state for many decades. This includes Sonoma County and the Sonoma County school system. During this time they have run the state and local government and school system into the ground. Who one may ask it truly responsible for the education crisis? The answer clearly is a reactionary state legislature and many governors including this one.

    They have created huge budget deficits at all levels, increased taxes to the highest in the nation and created a bureaucracy that is heavy and very inefficient. Education is the chief budget expenditure in the state and one of the worst offenders. The system is not educating students as it should and makes all kinds of excuses for failing. If education were a private sector enterprize, it would have been out of business years ago.

    The teachers and school districts will not allow competition and reject alternate schools. Why because they are afraid of lossing power and competition will make them look bad in the eyes of the public.

    Things much change and will change because there is no more money to fund this behemoth. The change will not be pretty and will face strong resistance from the teachers union but like all evolution or revolution, education will change.

    Hopefully some intelligence will be used to direct the change but I am not optimistic given the cast of characters at the state and local level in charge of the system.

  46. Mike says:

    Mr. Judd wants a conservative voice on the SRJC panel. Unfortunately conservatives are as rare as penguins in the Artic Ocean in Sonoma County.

    That is why whenever a panel to dicuss education is convened, the panel members come from the left to discuss their leftest education agenda.

    Education in California needs major reform and overhaul. It costs too much and does too little. Too much is spent on poor teachers who cannot be fired and incompentent administrators in the pocket of the teachers union.

    As one of many taxpayers in this state, I am fed up with a system which graduates fewer and fewer students, cries for more and delivers less.

    When poor teachers can be fired, standards are established for teacher performance evaluation and teaching returns to actually teaching, not indoctrinating students in leftest idoelogy I will support more but not until the governor and state legislature make fundamental changes and cut spending for an education system which is clearly not working for the students, the parents or society.

  47. Ken Sportini says:

    Wait, let me get this straight. Norman Solomon isn’t qualified to pontificate on the state of education, BUT JIM JUDD IS??

    There’s a reason JJ went down in flames. Bring on the thumbs down, but you can’t change that fact.

  48. Kirstin says:

    Maybe Chris hasn’t noticed, but the federal, and many state, and local governments are running deficits. I think the overspending comment refers to the total fiscal picture, not education spending in isolation (Chris misunderstood that?). As a result though, every level of government is having to make cuts and that includes elected school boards (the S.R. school board is no different, as evidenced by the decisions made at recent meetings). This is how things are, and we’ve got to focus on how best “to provide quality education with our inevitably smaller budgets.” Hard choices must be made. And part of ensuring that quality education is demanding performance from educators. There is no sense forking out the education money we do have available for failing programs or teachers, etc. There must be accountability in our school system. It must be about the kids, not the educators, in the end.

  49. Chris says:

    This guy is a nutcase. What overspending. Billions have been gutted from education. Basic services cannot be provided to our students, and yet republicans like Judd keep saying no. Well, no isn’t enough. Overspending is bull, and republicans need to get the hell out of the way so our state can restore sanity to the education process.