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Newsom draws contrast with other states on new education reforms in State of the State Address

In a brief mention in a short State of the State Address on Tuesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom contrasted “reforms” in other states to prohibit the teaching of race and gender in schools to the “real transformation of our public education system” by “creating choices, real choices for parents and unprecedented support for their kids.”

Newsom did not single out Texas, which passed a law banning teaching of critical race theory, or Florida, whose governor is poised to sign a bill dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” that bars educators from discussing sexual orientation with young students.

Instead, he chided the faux reforms “being promoted in some states where…they’re banning books, where…you can sue your history teacher for teaching history and where you can’t even say you, the word ‘gay,’” he said.

Advocates of broadening taxpayer-supported school choice are collecting signatures to put an initiative on the November ballot that create education savings accounts. Families with children in school would get $15,000 per year that they could spend on a private or religious school or choose a school district or charter school.  Newsom is expected to oppose that measure if it makes the ballot.

Newsom’s reference to “real choices” were to newly enacted programs that will expand options for parents in public schools: transitional kindergarten for all 4-year-olds, before and after-school programs and summer school guaranteed for all low-income children, universal school breakfasts and lunches, child savings accounts for college seeded by a $500 contribution by the state, and free tuition to community college.

“That’s the California way,” he said.

During his 18-minute speech from a state office building in Sacramento, his fourth State of the State, Newsom touted California’s innovative economy, commitment to health care for low-income families and housing for the homeless, and the state’s embrace of diversity. He indicated, without giving details, that he would propose ways to reduce the impact of soaring gasoline prices.

“People have always looked to California for inspiration,” he said. Now in the, the midst of turmoil and war in Ukraine, he said that California is “doing what we’ve done for generations – expanding the horizon of what’s possible.”