Give Me an “A” for Flunking California Distance Learning

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

I’m doing my duty as a California parent. I’m flunking distance learning. Because failure isn’t just an option when you must become your children’s teacher during the worst pandemic in a century. Failure is the goal. Imagine the educational carnage if distance learning didn’t fail! If parents proved better instructors than teachers, how could unions […]

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Save Local Government By Eliminating Local Governments

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

California is finally getting the local government apocalypse it needs.  I love local government. In most places, it’s the most democratic, participatory, and effective level of government, and it deserves to be the most powerful and best-funded. But in California, local governments are too weak and small to be effective. Why? There are simply too […]

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It’s Time for Home Repair

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

If you’re lucky enough in this pandemic to not have much to do—no job to work remotely, no children to help with distance learning, no volunteering to do because you’re old or have a health condition that makes you at risk—then take a look around the house One unexplored piece of California’s housing crisis is […]

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The Peter Navarro Principle

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

The 20th century gave us the Peter Principle: in a hierarchy, you’ll get promoted until you reach your level of incompetence. The 21st century gives us the Peter Navarro Principle: if you’re relentlessly angry and accusatory, your incompetence will be no obstacle to your rise. Peter Navarro is a failed California politician who now, frighteningly, […]

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Why California Can’t Cut its Way Past COVID

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

Coronavirus is forcing Californians into isolation. But it has brought us together in one way: by fusing our biggest problems into one colossal crisis. That crisis could be our once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform the state—if we can ignore the conventional wisdom that this is a time to shelter our ambitions in place.  For Californians, COVID-19 […]

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No Representation for Non-Bosses

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

Governor Gavin Newsom’s economic task force has plenty of representation if you’re a boss. It’s full of presidents, CEOs, board chairs, and directors of various enterprises in business, labor, government and academia. For those few of us—we humble few—who aren’t bosses, well, we don’t have any representation at all.  I suspect non-bosses may constitute a […]

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Let’s Stick to One Election at a Time

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

In many ways, California’s March elections constituted a success. But there are still complaints about long lines and voter confusion.  So if reforms must be made in our elections, let me suggest making thing simpler.  Why don’t we limit ourselves to one election at a time?  Right now, our elections involve so many elections. Take […]

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The 21st Century California Plague That Jack London Saw Coming

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

Jack London saw this coming. Why didn’t we?   In 1910 the California author, already famous for The Call of the Wild and White Fang, wrote a short post-apocalyptic novel about a 21st century pandemic in his home state. To revisit The Scarlet Plague during the COVID-19 crisis is to marvel at how much London understood—a […]

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The Legislature Makes Itself Non-Essential

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

As I’ve written here before, California governors keep getting more and more powerful. But that shouldn’t mean the legislature is non-essential. Unbelievably, that’s exactly what the legislature is doing, by going dark in the middle of a historic crisis. It’s been stunning to watch the California legislature put itself on the sidelines since COVID-19 hit. […]

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State Bond Failure Is a Great Opportunity for Schools

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

The defeat of Prop 13—the school bond on the March ballot—has caused worry and concern, particularly among those of us who want more support for schools.  I think it’s a huge opening. Prop 13 wasn’t really about schools. It was about school buildings, of which California has plenty. What California needs is more education. And […]

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