By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Like equalizing per-pupil funding. Like multiple authorizers, and some construction money. Right now, it’s a real struggle getting a charter school started because they get no construction money, and they get less per-pupil funding. Nevertheless, I’ve met some of the most remarkable people who have started charter schools in California. You’re getting some of the most amazing teachers.How would you critique Gray Davis’ direction in education reform? Hasn’t he achieved some of his goals?
Yes, he can cite some individual improvements in scores, but in general, if you look at the fact that 2 million children are still in substandard schools, and the fact that he went along with the [federal] No Child Left Behind Act, which we have completely fought against in terms of the completely wrong emphasis on testing and overtesting. This whole way that he went along with something which is basically damaging, and which basically is pretending to give people a choice to go to another school when there is not a school for them to go to. So the whole premise of this act is flawed. But Davis just completely went along with it, as he went along with so many other things.This emphasis on testing doesn’t come from Davis and Bush alone, but also from Bill Clinton and people from all over the ideological map.
I agree with you that there is very much a bipartisan consensus around testing. But Gray Davis did not have to go along with the bipartisan consensus. I believe that testing is largely meaningless unless you have the resources to do something when it shows that the children are not doing well. Otherwise, it’s like taking a child’s temperature and not having any medicine to give them when you keep finding out that the child has a high fever. You know, what is the point? You’re basically reinforcing the fact that the children are failing. We know that. Do we really need to be testing them constantly? And it’s also really dramatically changing teaching. If you talk to teachers, you see how differently they’re teaching. They are teaching to the tests rather than teaching to get the child to learn and to love learning.Any notable policy differences on environmental issues between you and Green Party candidate Peter Camejo?
We both put a tremendous emphasis on a renewable-energy policy. It’s both an environmental issue and a jobs issue. There is a multitrillion-dollar emerging market for renewable energy around the world. And we have the opportunity to be the first. But that will require leadership. It will require investment by government the way we’re invested in the Internet.
We have the resources. We have the ingenuity. We have the climate. We have everything to be a leader in this field. But instead we’re not. And again, even the good things that Gray Davis has done — like the regulation on auto-emissions standards — if you look at the timetable, it’s so lackadaisical. There’s no sense of urgency. One of the things I would bring to environmental issues is a sense of urgency.Populist campaigns don’t usually stress some of the issues you stress.
I want to go back to [Arizona Senator] John McCain, because even though John McCain is a Republican, he’s entirely around this issue [of campaign finance]. I remember speaking at Harvard on the day of the Massachusetts primary. And in the middle of my speech there came the news that McCain had won the Massachusetts primary. And these students, these really radical progressive students who were there, stood up and cheered.
And I stopped, and I said to them: "That’s really interesting. Because you obviously disagreed with McCain on his issue on choice. Or gun control, you know, any number of his other positions." And the argument was that nothing will change if we don’t get money out of politics. So I think people get that. And McCain showed that they get that.
If you could get elected as a Democrat, would it be worth being a Democrat?
I don’t really know. I mean, first of all, I’m not really thinking at all of running again if I don’t win this time. I’m not saying I wouldn’t do it, but right now I’m like running a marathon. And it ends on October 7. And all I know is that on October 8 I’m going to have a vodka.Are you expecting an Arianna Huffington swell at the polls on October 7?
Well, you know, a campaign is a combination of what our campaign does and what happens to the other campaigns. So we have no control of what happens to the other campaigns. The public is really connecting more and more with what it means when politicians are in the pocket of special interests. The thing that I keep driving is not the sort of theoretical argument for campaign-finance reform. But the fact that we don’t have universal health care, we don’t have good schools, and we don’t have clean air — because of who is paying the piper in Sacramento. So that’s really the key.
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