By Gary Cohn
An election campaign now being fought almost completely out of public view could radically alter the way California’s school children are taught. If Marshall Tuck unseats incumbent Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, the state’s public education system could become a laboratory for a movement that prizes privatization and places a high value on student test scores over traditional instruction. The contrasts between the two top contenders in the nonpartisan race could not be more dramatic – nor could the stakes for the country’s largest education system.
By John M. Simpson
Data breaches at major retailers Target and Neiman Marcus during last year's holiday shopping season affected more than 100 million people and focused new attention on the need to protect person information stored online.
While it's clear that tough data breach legislation must be enacted, California Attorney General Kamala Harris is taking action to improve cybersecurity in the state before new laws are passed. She recently released recommendations to California businesses to help protect against- and respond to- the increasing threats of malware, data breaches and other cyber risks.
By Brian Leubitz
The Secretary of State gig will be turning over this year, and there will be change. Lots of it. No matter which of the six announced candidates wins in November, the change from Debra Bowen will be stark. But as one of the two heavily contested races this year, I thought it would be worth a review of the current crop of candidates before the Democratic convention in LA this weekend. The race for the endorsement at this point seems to be Sen. Alex Padilla or a no endorsement position, but, of course, everything could change down at the CADem Convention. So, on to the candidates.
By Robert Cruickshank
The Sacramento Bee ran into Jerry Brown as he filed papers for his fourth campaign for governor, and asked him about funds for the high speed rail project:
Right now my main focus is the litigation in the 3rd Court of Appeals, I’m hopeful we will get that resolved quickly. And yes, in addition to the bond issues, the sources of funding have been one of the greatest questions of the critics, and I think cap-and-trade is very appropriate, because high speed rail reduces greenhouse gases [Brown emphasized that point], there’s no question about that, it’s much cheaper than building more freeways, or attempting to build more runways. So from an environmental and fiscal point of view, or even from a convenience point of view, given the fact that we have a number of people who are aging, and I hope to be one of those people over the next 20 years, it’ll be a lot better to be sitting on a high speed passenger rail than sitting behind a wheel trying to weave your way down I-5 or 99.
By Dan Bacher
California family farmers, now struggling with a record drought that has been exacerbated by poor management of the state's reservoirs and rivers by the state and federal governments, are calling on Governor Jerry Brown to place a moratorium on the water-intensive oil and gas extraction process known as fracking or hydraulic fracturing.
Governor Brown currently supports the expansion of environmentally destructive fracking operations in California, as well as the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the fish-killing peripheral tunnels.
By Claire O'Connor
Natural Resources Defense Council
My grandfather, Art, is 82 years old. I’d say he’s been farming for about 80 years, give or take a few months. He’s supposedly “retired” now, but he’s still out in the field every day with my dad during planting and harvest season on our corn and soybean farm in Nebraska.
By Anthony Wright
Consumer, community, and health organizations cheered new studies Tuesday from University of California showing how the state has gone beyond federal law to extend coverage to immigrant youth who have “deferred action” status. The studies show that this expansion, including in last year’s California budget and Medi-Cal expansion under the Affordable Care Act, extends to 125,000 Californians with “deferred action” immigration status, including DREAM Act students and young adults.
The first two parts of the report are available for download here.
By Julie Gutman Dickinson
Are job protections for teachers to blame for educational underachievement among low-income students of color in California? That’s the provocative question ostensibly at the heart of Vergara vs. California, which seeks to invalidate the tenure, due process and seniority rights of hundreds of thousands of educators.
Astute observers of the nation’s escalating education wars, however, may be asking another question: When did it become permissible to use the welfare of children as a fig leaf for an all-out legal attack on teachers?
By Dan Bacher
State Senators Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) and Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) have introduced legislation that would impose a moratorium on fracking and acidization in order to protect California’s air and water from pollution caused by this dangerous form of oil and gas extraction.
The bill was introduced as California reels from a record drought and Governor Jerry Brown continues to support the expansion of fracking in California and the construction of the fish-killing peripheral tunnels under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP).
By Robert Cruickshank
The Tea Party (and their newest friend, Gavin Newsom) may be continuing their war against high speed rail. But California’s labor unions, a key Democratic constituency, remain deeply supportive of the project. Robbie Hunter of the State Building and Construction Trades Council explains why: