Category: California Legislature

How Community Colleges Can Keep Sacramento Pols Off Their Backs

ALICIA DOWD, associate professor, Rossier School of Education, and co-director for Center for Urban Education, and ESTELA MARA BENSIMON, professor of education, Rossier, and co-director of CUE.

This op-ed originally appeared at the Huffington Post on April 30.

The recently released California community college system’s Student Success Scorecard has rightly drawn praise. The web-based scorecards contain comprehensive information on students’ performance at each of the state’s 112 community colleges, making details about student outcomes the most easily accessible in the nation. The Scorecard reveals how colleges are doing in retaining and graduating students, remedial education and job-training programs, with data broken down by gender, age, race and ethnicity. The added information about race and ethnicity, new to this accountability report, is crucial in a system in which latinos and other students of color form the majority.

While students can use the scorecard to pick a campus, its main purpose is to provide data to community college leaders that they can use to zero in on what is impeding students’ performance and design remedies. But as important as the Student Success Scorecard is as an accountability tool, it does not ensure meaningful change because neither rewards nor penalties are attached to using the data or to improving scores.

Can a Legislature Run by California Democrats Clean Up the Mess

SHERRY BEBITCH JEFFE, fellow, USC Price School of Public Policy, and DOUGLAS JEFFE.

This op-ed originally appeared at Reuters.

California is on the verge of becoming a one-party state — but policy gridlock isn’t going anywhere soon.

Democrats now hold all the statewide offices and have a shot Tuesday at achieving two-thirds majorities in the Legislature. Yet they are far from being able to unilaterally resolve California’s fiscal logjam.

For the past decade, California’s fiscal picture has been awash in red ink, legislative stalemates, borrowing and a lot of budgetary gimmickry. Three governors in a row, Gray Davis, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown, hit a stone wall in trying to resolve the state’s structural deficit—the imbalance between ongoing spending and available tax revenues — that has persisted in

California Needs a Politics Rooted in 2012, Not 1978

DOWELL MYERS, demographer and planning professor, Price School of Public Policy.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

At the root of California’s dysfunctional politics lie some old ideas about who we are as a state. Demographics have been more volatile here than in other states, and many Californians older than 55, who make up roughly 46% of state voters, don’t want to pay for changes they never welcomed. The tragedy is that they are battling problems that have largely dissipated. The outlook for California going forward from 2012 is very different from what it was two decades ago.

Take population growth. The 1980s brought an unprecedented growth spurt for the state, with population increasing by some 6.1 million people. This far exceeded the population growth of 3.7 million people in the 1970s and 4.3 million in the 1960s.

Has Proposition 13 Lost Its Relevance?

DOWELL MYERS, demographer and professor of planning, USC’s Price School of Public Policy.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Sacramento Bee.

Proposition 13 is widely regarded as the third rail in state politics: Touch it and you’re politically dead. It has earned that sacrosanct status because it solved some urgent problems for California homeowners. But that was a generation ago, a different time with different problems. As we face the challenge of reviving the state’s housing market and finding a reliable revenue source for freeways, schools and other public services, we should consider how Proposition 13 should serve us in the future.

Another Audacious California Experiment

DAN SCHNUR, director of the USC’s Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

While most of the country was focused on the back-alley brawl of Wisconsin’s recall election Tuesday, a quieter but equally important political revolution was unfolding here in California.

Two recent voting reforms — one that changed the way legislative and congressional districts are drawn and another that sends the top two finishers in a primary on to the general election regardless of party affiliation — drew little interest outside the circles of obsessed political insiders. But thanks to these two procedural modifications, California politics have been profoundly altered — for the better.

The Great California Exodus?

DOWELL MYERS, demographer and planning professor, USC Price School of Public Policy

This op-ed originally appeared at Zocalo.

California, you might think, is a terrible place that people are fleeing from. One reason you might think so is that a cottage industry of pundits, business lobbyists, and politicians has been dedicated to convincing the world that California is and will remain a failure until our prevailing cultural and political climate changes. In this game, demographics are treated like a football. But the people of California are the demographics, and they may not like being tossed about.

What a Deal: Smarter Politicians, Less Time in Office

DAN SCHNUR, director of USC’s Jesse Unruh Institute of Politics.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Sacramento Bee.

When the original ballot initiative to impose term limits was put before California voters in 1990, I enthusiastically campaigned for its passage.

When career politicians tried to dramatically weaken the state’s term limits law 10 years ago, I fought to defeat them.

When I returned to Sacramento to serve as chairman of the California Fair Political Practices Commission, I saw that term limits had dramatically succeeded in one important respect. The Legislature was far more diverse than at any other time in our state’s history. Not only were there an unprecedented number of female, Latino and Asian Pacific Islander members, but we have also seen an extraordinary range of diversity in professional experience and background as well, as small-business owners and union members, doctors and nurses, teachers and farmers and law enforcement officers have all sought and gained election to the Legislature since term limits took effect.