Redevelopment vs. Education – will California have to choose?

With the swearing-in of Governor Brown on Monday, the speculation over California’s future has begun.

Rumors are flying that redevelopment – the directing of funds toward “blighted” areas in hopes of producing new jobs and businesses – may have to take a backseat in order to maintain the state’s funding for public education.

At first glance, this may seem like a no-brainer – line the pockets of developers, or make sure that our children have books and school lunches?  No contest, right?

But of course, it’s more complicated than that.  Redevelopment has its difficulties, and sometimes it gets carried out in a less than forthright way – but when it works, as it has with the Yerba Buena Center in downtown San Francisco, for example, redevelopment or urban renewal not only beautifies an area, it also creates jobs, provides new cultural opportunities, and makes an area more affluent without raising property taxes.  In addition, the boost in community pride often results in safer and more stable neighborhood.

All these things, needless to say, are good news for kids and families.  And it goes without saying that greater economic freedom can make the difference not only in how local children perform in elementary and high school, but in whether and where they go to college.

Governor Brown and the California gov’t have a host of tough choices to make – we’ll see what happens.

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