Monday, February 27, 2006

In My Own Defense...

I, too, was a little shocked at my reaction to Schwarzenegger's appearance on Meet the Press, but I actually started to admire him a little bit during last year's special election fiasco (for much the same reason I still have a bank of admiration for Russ Feingold and John McCain).

I was disappointed to see Proposition 77, which would have made determining Congressional districts a non-partisan affair (or as close as humanly possible), lose in November. It was a good-government measure that would have set a strong precedent for the rest of the country. Sure, it would have probably cost the Democrats a few seats in Congress, but it would have been the United States' first reform of its kind, and by the country's most populous state, so you could bet it would have started the ball rolling on similar efforts in many other states (even those in which Republicans have favorably gerrymandered their Congressional districts).

Propositions 75 and 76 were both terrible ideas -- no doubt about it. But proposition 74, while certainly suspect, may not have been such a bad idea. All of the writers on this site certainly had tenured teachers we could have lived without (think: our senior year economics teacher), so making lifetime employment protection (which few other professions have) a little tougher to earn might weed out a few more of the bad crops. I don't like the punitive nature of lengthening the time it takes to earn basic protections from two to five years, but the idea is based in some quality logic. Teachers really don't reach their full potential before their fifth year of teaching, from what I'm told (and, at this point, believe). The first four years are basically on-the-job training, and I really do feel bad for the students in my classes -- I will much better serve my students next year and any year after that I decide to teach. If I make it to five years (and there is a group of Teach for America alumni who think our commitment should be lengthened to five years), I will be a quality teacher who can finally give my students what they deserve. If Proposition 74 had been coupled with some financial payoffs for those who do make it to five years, I bet you would not have had such a loud outcry from the teachers' unions.

I have honestly not read up enough about the $222 billion capital improvement plan, but what I do know is that it's badly needed for California's decrepit infrastructure and has been for about 20 years. No one -- Democrat or Republican -- has had the political will to make the needed big investment in the state, like Gov. Earl Warren did in the 1940s when he made the University of California system the best of its kind in the country. I'm sure the priorities of Gov. Schwarzenegger's package need to be modified, but the basic idea is an important one that I strongly support.

I'll have to see how the Westly and Angelides pan out, but for now, I'm inclined to support Gov. Schwarzenegger from afar.


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