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Blasting Bureaucracy

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Jones doesn't want to trim just around the edges when it comes to changing California's education system.

Bill Jones

Mr. Jones' far-reaching plan to fix California's schools, unveiled earlier this month, would limit the states' districts to 30,000 students, eliminate the superintendent of public instruction's job, and distribute most state school aid through block grants. He'd also replace the 58 county education offices with 15 new regional superintendents.

Mr. Jones, California's secretary of state, is hoping to replace Democratic Gov. Gray Davis. He faces tough going against the GOP front-runner, former Los Angeles Mayor Richard J. Riordan, and five other Republican contenders in the March 5 primary.

Mr. Jones has a school finance plan that would use block grants to send state and federal aid directly to schools.

"Oversight and fiscal accountability is necessary," he said in a Feb. 6 speech announcing the plan.

"But the hydra-headed monster our educational system has become is the result of too many layers of politicians and bureaucrats and consultants straining to advance their pet cause and projects or simply perpetuate their power," he added.

Under his district-size caps, the 723,000-student Los Angeles system would have to be divided into at least 24 districts.

Mr. Jones also wants more decisions made at the school level, and proposes giving administrators and teachers more authority for duties such as hiring new staff and purchasing supplies.

This new power wouldn't go unchecked, though—the school would have to disclose spending on its Web site for parents and the public to review. And, if a school failed to meet academic standards and financial management rules, the district could intervene.

—Joetta L. Sack

Vol. 21, Issue 23, Page 16

Published in Print: February 20, 2002, as State Journal

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