California Bill Would Remove Local Control of Education

California Bill Would Remove Local Control of Education
The California State Capitol building in Sacramento, Calif., on April 18, 2022. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
Ken Williams

Our founding fathers believed in essential principles that have advanced our republican form of government for the last approximately two and a half centuries. Those values are enshrined in our U.S. Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights.

Our founding fathers also recognized that education was central to a thriving nation. They knew that an educated nation was necessary to prepare its citizens for a republican form of government. With that acknowledgment and awareness of an educated citizenry, our founding leaders promoted public education that has allowed our country to endure and flourish. The desire to create public schools was the foundation for advancing our citizens’ knowledge of and fitness for self-government and local control by citizens through elected leadership.

The concept of local control in education has been traditionally recognized and revered by both Democrats and Republicans alike. The concept of local control is grounded in a philosophy that citizens and institutions that are closest to their communities are the best endowed in the welfare and success of its educators, students, and communities.

In the three years since our nation was paralyzed with the COVID-19 pandemic, our nation has become increasingly detached and divided. Our students have been academically damaged by school closures, worsening test scores, and less parental rights and local control of education.

At this historic moment, our communities hold fast to politically and culturally diverse views of self-governance. Unproven and troublesome university pedagogical theories have become the primary focus by state bureaucrats resulting in a drifting education mission to the detriment of academic achievement, parental rights, and school choice. Essentially, public education has been diverted from the primary goal of inculcating facts and knowledge to our children, as well as critical thinking skills. Now the progressive left’s mission is to advance divisive gender and race theories over academics.

Newly-elected state Assemblyman Corey Jackson (D-Perris), a former Riverside County Board of Education member, has authored Assembly Bill 1078, which creates a substantial new state-mandated local program that burdens the state’s already deficient General Fund, and abolishes local control of education. Under AB 1078, employing the guise of “curriculum diversity,” local control of education is tragically dissolved.

Additional state monies, taxes, or both will be required to finance this bill for reimbursements to local school districts. This is at a time when the state and local school districts face massive financial and budget deficits. Once again, this bill places great burdens and significant new workloads and responsibilities on the state Department of Education and local school districts all under the umbrella of “diversity and inclusion.”

Traditionally, local school boards have the final decision in these matters to select specific curricula and textbooks under state guidelines. This bill mandates the state Department of Education to procure schools textbooks that are narrowly and politically defined. This bill will force local school districts to adopt certain textbooks or instructional materials approved only by the state.

This bill violates the inviolable concept of local education control once enjoyed in our state and nation by prohibiting local decisions for our children’s schools by locally elected school board members. It mandates Orwellian-like classroom instruction, curriculum, and textbooks. In other words, this bill limits local school boards to state-endorsed literature, instructional materials, and curriculum.

Our founding fathers would scorn contemporary Sacramento legislators for allowing the demise of local control of education. The responsibility of public education and deciding what curriculum and textbooks to adopt, and what curriculum and books to discard, should remain with local school boards who are accountable to the parents and the voters who elect them.

Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
Dr. Ken Williams is a primary care physician and member of the Orange County Board of Education.
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