Gov. Brown asks: ‘Who will wash my windows?’

07 Jun Gov. Brown asks: ‘Who will wash my windows?’


Governor Jerry Brown upsets education advocates after making inappropriate comments.


By Dayana De La Torre and Sandra Hamada

Education advocates are outraged at Governor Jerry Brown’s recent remarks on his lack of intent in closing the achievement gap for African American and Latinos in California. In a recent interview with CALMatters, Gov. Brown was asked how he believes his 2013 policy, the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) would help to close the achievement gap.

Gov. Brown asked in response, “Do you mean a career as a waiter? Do you mean a career as a window washer? Or do you mean something more elevated? Then who’s going to do all that other work that’s not elevated? Who does that? Or do we get robots for that?”

This comes as a surprise to many. Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula was a game-changing policy altered the state’s distribution of funding to prioritize need. The new policy provided school districts funding from the state based on demographic indicators include the low-income, foster care, and English language learner students and provided them with more local control on how to target that need.

Ryan Smith, Executive Director of Ed-Trust West was the first to call out the Governor in an open letter arguing, “Equity has become the new coconut water – the trend everyone is talking about, but not all of us are drinking.”

Leaders across the state agree with Smith and are concerned about the implications of the Governor’s recent statements.

Alex Johnson, Executive Director of the Children’s Defense Fund-CA said that he wants to see action from the
Governor to “ensure that we can achieve educational equity for students of color who are disproportionately vulnerable to low wage jobs and the cycle of poverty.”


‘Brown’s recent words hurt African American and Latino students who historically receive the least amount of resources, trapping them in low-wage labor and poverty.’


Organized by Smith, more than 60 organizations across the state requested a formal sit down with the Governor in response to his statements. In a collective letter, they urged for strong accountability systems with local districts and to fill the vacant State Board of Education seat with a champion for equity.

“Unfortunately, we have a history of giving the least to students who already start with less – the least amount of resources, the fewest effective teachers and the fewest opportunities to achieve, while suspending, expelling and pushing them out at higher rates,” Smith wrote in his open letter.

Advocates and activists continue to push the State Board of Education to adopt accountability measures to ensure
local districts are using the money to increase achievement for the state’s most vulnerable students.

“Brown’s words continue to perpetuate a dangerous cycle – justifying the need to trap a segment of the population,
namely African American and Latinos in low-wage labor and stuck in poverty,” said Alberto Retana, President & CEO of Community Coalition.

Earlier this May, the California State Board of Education voted in favor of adding non-academic factors such as school climate, including attendance, graduation rates and suspensions.

This comes after the state moved away from the Academic Performance Index, a measure that many education advocates critiqued for its overreliance on test scores.

The State Board will vote in July to approve of the new measures proposed.

The state of California is at a crossroads when it comes to the achievement gap in education. How will Governor Brown lead California’s education system in his remaining years? Will government officials lead us towards the path of equity or will equity become merely a talking point that no one can agree on?

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