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Influencers Opinion

California schools need both more accountability and more funding


Note to readers: Each week through November 2019, a selection of our 101 California Influencers answers a question that is critical to California’s future. Topics include education, healthcare, environment, housing and economic growth. One influencer each week is also invited to write a column that takes a closer look at the issue.

Get weekly updates on the issues that matter to you: Sign up for the California Influencers newsletter here.

These days it’s a challenge to find much that Republicans and Democrats agree on. One of those areas is public education – most people, regardless of party, agree that it could use improvement.


The bigger challenge is how we do that in a sharply divided climate. Many people (usually Democrats) tend to believe that education can be enhanced if we added more resources. Others (often Republicans) tend to believe we provide enough money it just needs to be spent better.

The truth is we need to do both.

Our schools need more money. They do. California remains at the bottom of the list of per pupil spending for any state in the union, which, among other things, means we have fewer adults working with kids. No system of education can expect to have better results when it does not have the right tools and support to do the job adequately.

Mike Madrid

Our education system needs accountability, performance metrics and more transparency. It does. An unacceptable number of California schools are not preparing students for basic livelihoods, let alone success in the new economy. No system of education can expect to be preparing kids for tomorrow’s jobs without some metrics to measure performance, accountability and the transparency required by the public to ensure dollars are being well spent and kids are being well educated.

Ted Lempert

As a Democrat and as a Republican, we often agree to disagree. However, there’s far too much at stake with increasing poverty rates and the state’s high income inequality gap. Our schools need more money, and they also need to be more transparent to the public and accountable for student success.

We can do both. We must.

Ted Lempert is president of Children Now. Mike Madrid is a principal at Grassroots Lab. They are also both Education influencers for McClatchy’s California Influencers series.

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