California’s Dream Act could be the next big thing

Column: California voters don’t like where the state’s headed. But they still want Newsom in office, by 63 to 55 percent. Photo: Associated Press/TNS

When Gov. Jerry Brown takes office in January, he’s expected to start by restoring the California Dream Act and reforming the state’s business climate.

But there’s another hot button issue on the ballot in California, and voters are likely to decide whether their governor can continue to run the state for nearly another decade: education.

The California Dream Act is the most ambitious overhaul of public education since the “No Child Left Behind” legislation of 2001, passed under President George W. Bush. If it’s passed, it would make huge changes to California’s school system and shift millions of dollars to districts with large numbers of students at risk of failing.

If the ballot initiative is adopted by voters, Brown could veto it. The Legislature would have the final say in the legislation that includes the Dream Act.

The proposal, which has supporters and critics, will take on a new urgency this year following another series of school shootings. Brown’s predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, vetoed numerous bills that had language linking access to firearms to academic success.

In the wake of what critics call one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history, including the shooting at a charter school in Connecticut last month, there is renewed emphasis on measures that could make schools safer. The state has already adopted a tougher measure, requiring schools to notify parents within 24 hours after a student is killed or injured. Another law allows teachers to carry guns in classrooms. The legislature is considering legislation that would bar guns from campuses unless a parent expressly gives permission in writing.

Proponents of the Dream Act say it will help students who struggle in school and will protect schools from a hostile culture of negativity. Critics, who include unions and some parents, say the measure is shortsighted and a waste of money.

But the ballot initiative could change how elections are conducted statewide. While some campaigns are short on money, campaigns in the Democratic and Republican parties are much more

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