California Must Do Better in Delivering Services

David Crane
Lecturer and Research Scholar at Stanford University and President of Govern for California

Dear Legislators,

We are increasingly concerned about poor performance of critical state services. According to the US Department of Labor, in June only 52 percent of First-Time Claims for unemployment in California were addressed within 14 days and according to the San Francisco Chronicle, teachers at San Francisco Unified School District have been given no additional guidance from the school district since March on how to make virtual education successful.

We don’t understand how California — the global center of digital industry — is not leading in the digital supply of those services. For distance learning, maybe the state could learn from California-based Khan Academy, which managed a huge increase in demand after the school shutdown and is now serving more than 100 million pupils around the globe. Or take a look at Miami-Dade public schools, a large district of socially-disadvantaged pupils of many colors that has had success with distance learning. Rhode Island faced the same percentage increase in UI claims and is shackled by the same legacy computers as California but performed well by teaming up with AWS to streamline the front-end of its UI system. They published the code but if not AWS, maybe California should team up with Google or another California-based supplier of cloud services.

California did a great job shutting services down but states are primarily in the business of providing services. So far CA’s performance on UI and distance learning has more in common with the Soviet performance at Chernobyl — and if you think that’s hyperbole, ask yourself how you would feel if you went weeks without UI feedback or your kids were losing invaluable learning time before they enter the most competitive world ever. Californians deserve better.

Please focus attention on making California the best provider of public services. Especially in an Internet age, no state should perform better. Not a minute should be wasted.

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