MONTEREY, Calif. — Calling Gov. George Deukmejian "no friend of education," Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley on Wednesday attacked his Republican opponent in the gubernatorial race for standing in the way of key school reforms.
Speaking to 450 chapter presidents of the California Teachers Assn., the state's largest teacher union, Bradley said the governor has vetoed 125 school bills in the last three years, "more . . . than any other governor in the history of the state."
Bradley vowed to support legislation to enhance the working conditions of teachers, including increasing salaries and reducing class sizes.
The Democratic contender was greeted by a standing ovation from the teacher leaders, who in April officially endorsed him over the incumbent Republican governor. On Wednesday, they presented Bradley with a campaign contribution of $10,000 and a promise to mobilize teachers on his behalf.
CTA officials have faulted Deukmejian for allocating "the absolute minimum" in dollars to education and, in particular, for failing to cut class sizes. California has the nation's largest classrooms, averaging 28 students in elementary school classes and 29 in high school classes.
In addition, union leaders have complained that on a number of occasions the governor has declined to meet with them to discuss educational policy, while Bradley has been more receptive.
"Mayor Bradley is much more accessible to us. That has a lot to do with why we support him," said CTA President Ed Foglia, a Santa Clara County teacher.
Support for Training
During a brief address to the teachers, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate voiced support for improvements in teacher preparation and credentialing that were proposed in a recent report by state and national commissions on school reform.
Specifically, Bradley said he believes the bachelor's degree in education should be eliminated and that new teachers should instead major in the sciences or arts before entering a formal teaching program.
He also said he would support the creation of a teacher's certification board that would be composed mostly of teachers. Prospective teachers now are reviewed by the state's Commission on Teacher Credentialing, a 17-member panel dominated by university professors, school administrators and public officials.
Drug Abuse Program
He also called for the creation of a mandatory anti-drug abuse program beginning in kindergarten, saying that children need to be made aware of the perils of drug use at the earliest age possible.
In reply, William Cunningham, Deukmejian's education adviser, said in a phone interview that the governor has strongly supported education and that teacher salaries and overall school funding have steadily risen since Deukmejian took office in 1983.
Cunningham also said he did not know how many bills pertaining to education the governor has vetoed but suggested the number was not important.
"It's a matter of percentage," the adviser said, adding that Deukmejian "probably has signed more bills (aiding schools) than any governor too. And he has signed more (school bills) that were significant," like SB 813, a comprehensive education reform package enacted in 1983.