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Lucy Dunn, president and CEO, OC Business Council  

Click for Lucy Dunn's Bio

Thursday, April 08, 2010
Treasurer Street reaches a dead end
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Roses, radishes, squirrels sighted
Return local control of education now
State and federal lawmakers and bureaucrats are holding our children hostage. They are well intentioned, no doubt, but the road to hell is paved with their good intentions. And the travel is getting hotter every day.

Sacramento is broke, programs are being cut, legislators’ management skills are questionable, and California’s economic recovery is not evident. Local educators are doing their best with constrained, delayed school funding, making the tough decisions every other private-sector company is making to get by. But complicating this mess further, Orange County educators have zero flexibility on 73 percent of the public funding they do get! They are dictated by Sacramento and, frankly, Washington as well, on how to spend, when to spend, who to spend on, leaving no flexibility to meet local community needs for our children in tough times. Educators want flexibility to move funding to where it’s needed most: to district reform efforts, for career-pathways programs for students, for early-childhood education, Latino student achievement “gaps” and college readiness, as well as consolidation of duplicative, overlapping state and federal mandates such as in special education.

Our local school leaders are skilled, educated adults – talented AND accountable to the local community – more accountable than some nameless Sacramento or Washington bureaucrat. Our parents want their children skilled for a competitive 21st century economy. And despite this state’s upside-down priorities – $5 is spent per prisoner for every $1 spent per student – Orange County schools have the best “return on investment” of any business. State and federal funding received is almost dead last, but Orange County test scores are some of the best.

Despite their lousy track record, state and federal governments insist on micromanagement of the education of our children from thousands of miles away. Enough! Every mandate, every inflexible rule is a costly drag on efficient and effective education. Why do we need 6,000 regulations on education when 600 might do?

It’s time. Return control of education to local boards of education and superintendents who can and should determine what’s best for our children. Call O.C. Superintendent of Schools Bill Habermehl at 714.966.4001, and tell him you support the Orange County Superintendents’ plan.

Before the summer budget battles give us all heat stroke.

For more, visit Lucy Dunn's blog on the Orange County Business Council's Web site.