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Proposed 2022 California Ballot Initiative Makes ‘High-Quality’ Education a Constitutional Right

Proposed 2022 California Ballot Initiative Makes ‘High-Quality’ Education a Constitutional Right

Constitutional Right to a High-Quality Public Education Act would amend the constitution to assert that all students have the right to education that “provides them with the skills necessary to fully participate in the economy, our democracy, and our society.”

One of the only silver linings of having California citizenship is that, occasionally, we can undo the progressive madness in Sacramento via a ballot initiative.

And while the bar is high for success, the issue of children’s education is a cause that spans political differences.

The state’s constitution requires California to fund public education but stays silent about its quality.  Organizers of a measure on the state ballot in 2022 want to change that.

The proposed initiative, called the Constitutional Right to a High-Quality Public Education Act, would amend the constitution to assert that all students have the right to a high-quality public education that “provides them with the skills necessary to fully participate in the economy, our democracy, and our society.”

The proposed change to the constitution needs to gather enough signatures to appear on the ballot in November 2022, after which it will be put to a statewide vote.

The proposed amendment doesn’t define a high-quality education. That would be left to plaintiffs to argue and courts to determine.

But proponents point to certain state education laws they say “do not put the interests of students first,” such as forcing children to attend low-quality public schools, retaining poor-performing employees, and adopting policies that “protect abusive school employees or otherwise undermine school safety.”

The proposed amendment wouldn’t guarantee victory for anyone wanting to challenge a school law or policy, said Michael Trujillo, a spokesman for the initiative, but it would give them some legal standing.

“We’re not selling a silver bullet here,” he said. “We’re selling a tool for parents, and policymakers to to be armed with.”

The inspiration behind this measure stems from the 2014 Vergara v. California decision that was spearheaded by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Dave Welch and other organizers. While that decision asserted the rules related to teacher tenure, firing bad teachers, and layoff policies violated the state’s Constitution, it was overturned in 2016 by the California Court of Appeals.

The appeals court reversed the decision, essentially saying California kids had a right to a free education…not necessarily a good one.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu sided with the plaintiffs – nine students in five school districts and Students Matter, the organization that Welch founded. The evidence of “the effect of grossly ineffective teachers on students is compelling. Indeed, it shocks the conscience,” he wrote in a 2014 decision.

But two years later, three judges on a Court of Appeal in Los Angeles unanimously overturned the decision, writing that the plaintiffs didn’t establish “that the statutes inevitably cause a certain group of students to receive an education inferior to the education received by other students.”

“With no proper showing of a constitutional violation, the court is without power to strike down the challenged statutes,” the decision stated.

The ballot measure’s goal is to correct that apparent constitutional oversight.

Andy Kessler, author and contributor to The Wall Street Journal, interviewed Welch about his motivation for what will be a difficult and expensive battle against the California Teachers Association to obtain the one million signatures required for the measure to make the ballot. His response:

What we’re doing to our kids is horrific,” he says. “I can’t think of a greater loss of potential than the poor quality of education of our children. And all the other societal problems that come with it. The prison system uses educational outcomes—fourth-grade reading levels—to determine what size correctional facilities they’ll need.” Scary.

I think a successful Kids First ballot initiative would do more for “equity” than any government program. “The best way in making a productive functioning society is making sure everyone lives up to their potential,” Mr. Welch says. “Education is one of the basic pillars of American democracy.” That pillar is crumbling.

A link to the proposed measure is HERE.


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I don’t know where the gotcha loopholes are in this proposal but at least it is a start. For far too long, teacher unions (AFT, NEA, etc) have supported teachers and administrators, right or wrong, justified or unjustified, without ever considering the students. NYC has how many “teachers” who are routinely “housed” in abandoned school buildings doing mindless activities day after day because the “system” is too afraid of the unions and the power that they wield. At least I will give the city credit for taking these people out of classroom settings, where they cause way more harm than good. I was particularly impressed noting the statement that “The appeals court reversed the decision, essentially saying California kids had a right to a free education…not necessarily a good one.”
As an educator, I can attest to the fact that there are some “teachers” who simply occupy a space, don’t attempt to teach rather allowing the students to run the classroom (including providing their own grades). There are also “administrators” who coerce teachers into inflating grades knowing that the work of the students is nowhere near the level of the “grade” GIVEN. Both cases are actually abuses of the students. This is also an explanation of why high schools routinely have students who cannot read or do simple math. Some systems have minimum grade rules (like no grade below 50 on a 60 point scale). I sometimes wonder if they “evaluate” teachers on the same type scale.
The WOKE venture into education is making things even worse. Students are sometimes given “reparation” grades–in the belief that at some point maybe the student or an ancestor may have been unfairly graded in the past. I can only hope that when those who subscribe to this WOKE theory need a surgeon or a lawyer, that the surgeon or lawyer they have is one of these students who was given grades throughout their educational career without regard to demonstrating competency much less excellence!

    I know precisely what the gotcha aspects are because ‘Quality Learning’ is a UNESCO-pushed Trojan Horse deeply grounded in social and emotional learning whatever the intentions of the architects of this amendment want. This is an old but still apt warning

    As covered in the book Credentialed to Destroy: How and Why Education Became a Weapon, Quality Assurance is the term accreditors use to fuel this shift away from academics to a John Dewey inspired Change the Student to fit with our new vision of Democracy. AdvancED may have changed its name to Cognia since the book first came out, but the vision attached to what Quality entails is still valid and quite transformational in purpose.

    As an attorney, it is very dangerous to include terms in legislation or regulation that have a defined, non-dictionary meaning, in a particular field. Quality Learning and High-Quality Learning are very much such terms when it comes to education, especially Preschool and K-12. It is all about accessing the noetic, intrapersonal level of each student, particularly anything that ultimately goes to motivation to act.

    It is a term that is the antithesis of traditional academics and would essentially act as a Trojan Horse if enacted in legislation. It reminds me of why Brer Rabbit WANTED to be thrown into the Briar Patch.

      CommoChief in reply to Robin. | December 8, 2021 at 10:24 am

      Agreed to a point. The prog and unions will obviously claim that this means students should spend time being indoctrinated. Some districts will go along with that interpretation. Other districts won’t. Then comes testing. If woke district doesn’t perform close to non woke district in direct comparison; SAT/ACT and other testing then the question becomes why. Now woke district gets to explain why in depositions and at trial. Done correctly the plaintiffs will prevail. This won’t be a case asking for funding but instead asking for competent instruction measured by the standardized testing. Yes, some districts will continue to resist and water down testing to avoid direct comparison.

      Ultimately the plaintiffs are likely to be from underperforming urban areas with high numbers of black and brown students who simply ask for quality instruction that adequately prepares them. This places the unions and woke district officials against the students and parents who are ‘of color’ which is a PR nightmare.

        Dathurtz in reply to CommoChief. | December 8, 2021 at 1:03 pm

        You can’t rely on testing. They will simply incorporate a bunch of woke interpretive stuff into their standardized testing. California is big enough they can do that pretty easily.

        I support the idea overall, but I, too, am worried that “high quality” really will come to mean “progressive indoctrination”.

          CommoChief in reply to Dathurtz. | December 8, 2021 at 6:39 pm

          Ok. Add in acceptance rate and graduation rate by cohort. There are many ways to measure and evaluate the performance of the students and thus the school district.

2smartforlibs | December 8, 2021 at 9:54 am

Again who makes the determination on what “high quality” means?? I’m betting we differ on that definition.

This doesn’t sound like a real right. It sounds like an excuse for lots of lawsuits.

    bobtuba in reply to irv. | December 8, 2021 at 10:56 am

    Indeed. A “right” cannot be something that MUST be provided by another person. That’s why health care cannot be a right, because if you say it’s a right, you make health care providers into slaves, thereby violating THEIR rights.

    fscarn in reply to irv. | December 8, 2021 at 12:34 pm

    How about the RIGHT TO BE LEFT ALONE!!!

    Brandeis, Olmstead v. US (1928),

    “The makers of our Constitution undertook to secure conditions favorable to the pursuit of happiness. They recognized the significance of man’s spiritual nature, of his feelings and of his intellect. They knew that only part of the pain, pleasure and satisfactions of life are to be found in material things. They sought to protect Americans in their beliefs, their thoughts, their emotions and their sensations. They conferred against the government, the right to be let alone—the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men.”

Because all we have to do is make it a right, and *poof* everyone will have it!
Writing laws to “make” something a “right” is a fundamental misunderstanding of “right” and of how the universe really works. And it’s a prime failing of the now pervasive Progressive religion.

The problem here is that the people on the hook for the failure to provide a high quality education will be the taxpayers, not the shitty teachers and administrators.

You need a constitutional amendment that places the burden on the people causing the problem – so, provide a high quality education or lose school funding and pass it back to the parents.

    Dathurtz in reply to jhkrischel. | December 8, 2021 at 1:06 pm

    The only real solution to school problems that I can think of either removes the mandatory requirement for schooling or goes through the portal of school board elections.

    Voters have to hold school boards accountable through the democratic process, school boards have to hold administrators accountable, administrators have to hold teachers accountable, and teachers have to hold students accountable. Ultimately, districts get the schools they voted for. We’re just 50 years down the path of school boards being unaccountable for pushing politics instead of education.

Although some of the complaints about the quality of education is warranted the largest problem is kids that have no interest in getting an education. Their goal in life is to be a worthless thug and being educated is not going to help their street cred. It doesn’t matter how much you try to teach someone if they’re unwilling to learn.

The same people who want to abolish math and advanced placement courses in public schools also want a constitutional amendment guaranteeing ‘high quality’ education.


The problems started from the homes of students. Then the left started stacking the deck with insane leftist ‘teachers’.

I think their hearts are in the right place, but this proposal is way too broad and ambiguous. I do like that it excludes remedies that are more taxes and spending, but I wish it was more focused and defined, such as allowing 100% of all dollars of student spending to follow the student to where the parents want, including private schools instead of just flowing to the districts. Also, something that focuses on removing politics and propaganda from the classrooms and a right to in person schooling would be nice.

Plus, since it would be leftists defining High Quality Education, this is certainly going to backfire and you never know what you’re going to get with California judges.

    Dathurtz in reply to Real American. | December 8, 2021 at 1:12 pm

    A lot of the really good private schools won’t accept the money because it will come with some pretty serious strings attached. When I taught at such a school, they refused to participate in a voucher program because then they would lose the right to choose who was accepted and who was not.

    Most private schools don’t maintain a reputation for good scores because of superior teaching, they do so by excluding the people who won’t get good scores.

      TargaGTS in reply to Dathurtz. | December 8, 2021 at 2:09 pm

      You’re right. There’s likely a lot of truth in that particularly for the uber-expensive prep schools. But, there are a not insignificant number of private schools that have extensive programs dedicated for students with learning disabilities and even entire schools where they only accept kids with learning disabilities.

      But, even with more discriminating matriculation standards, I do think on balance, private school teachers are generally superior to public school teachers in significant ways. Course work is often much more challenging, demanding in private school relative to most public schools and they can do that not only because the student is better, but also because the teacher is more qualified. That of course is not true everywhere. There are some suburban public schools that are tremendous. But, those are the exception and not the rule.

        Dathurtz in reply to TargaGTS. | December 8, 2021 at 7:35 pm

        I can only speak for my area. In my experience private school teachers are generally worse teachers who have some societal connections. I am also not in a large urban area and I am sure that changes things.

    henrybowman in reply to Real American. | December 8, 2021 at 7:33 pm

    “I think their hearts are in the right place, but this proposal is way too broad and ambiguous.”
    …is the description of every single Democrat trojan horse, ever.

So where are they going to send all those students in L.A. public schools? Out of state for a quality education?

The initiative would create a “positive right,” one which would require an even bigger government. But isn’t the greater danger prevention of private schooling? After all, isn’t a child in homeshool, or private schooling, is being denied their *right* to a superior public education?

Rather than a response of “tut-tut”, this ought to bring up air raid sirens…

California has always been behind in education. I went to my first two years of school in podunk McCook, Nebraska in 1951. Moved to California for third grade. I was so far ahead of the students there that they wanted to advance me to the fourth grade but my dad said no. So I skated through that grade, leading reading groups. Then we moved to San Jose. I was still way ahead of my class and continued my teaching duties! I am NOT an extraordinary mind, they were just that far behind.

All California residents will receive a Berkeley or Stanford diploma upon reaching the age of 21 in the Major of their choice. Graduate degrees will be provided at 23 for masters and 26 for Doctorates. This is the birth right of all California residents.

“provides them with the skills necessary to fully participate in the economy, our democracy, and our society.”

This is feel-good eyewash. and you know it, because you then write:

“The proposed amendment doesn’t define a high-quality education. That would be left to plaintiffs to argue and courts to determine.”

Hope you like visiting Emanation-And-Penumbraville, because you’ll be spending the rest of your life there.

I mean, I take one look at that requirement, and my immediate thought it, “they’re finally going to have to require gun safety, marksmanship, and self-defense law training for graduation!” That’s what you saw, too… right?

I’m so old, I remember when we didn’t need to amend our constitutions to “guarantee” these things because we had teachers who did their jobs.

Who do those teachers work for? State and local governments. Gee, maybe there’s a specific and objective requirement you could put on them.

The only way we can get “Quality Education“ in California is for current teachers and professors to be replaced by ones who believe in the Constitution who reject leftist ideology entirely.

So, what were they offering… providing before they had this epiphany?

“ The proposed amendment doesn’t define a high-quality education. That would be left to plaintiffs to argue and courts to determine.”

Didn’t Brown v Bd. of Ed. Go down this same rabbit hole? For that matter, didn’t the barnyard in Animal Farm? Separate but equal was one thing, but, well, some animals were just more equal than others.

How can anything that depends on the actions of others be a legitimate Right?

We have a similar provision in the NC state constitution. It was used in court, about twenty years ago, by poor counties to force the legislature to provide more funding for low-income county schools. But it has become a monster. We have, right now, a Circuit Court judge requiring the state treasurer to release $1.7 billion to a selection of leftist-sounding programs. The Comptroller sued to avoid payment because there is no legislative directive for this funding. As with Voter ID, which is also in the state constitution, the Democrat Attorney General will not act to enforce laws as passed.

Be very, very careful about an undefined requirement.