California Educator

March 2015

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EDUCATION COMMUNITY CELEBRATES THE LIFE AND LEGACY OF PUBLIC EDUCATION GURU JOHN MOCKLER Former California Secretary of Education John Mockler dies at 73 W H I L E K N O W N F O R his wry sense of humor and for being a staunch defender of California public schools, John Mockler was best known as the chief architect of the state's minimum school funding law, Proposi- tion 98. He passed away March 3 after a long battle with cancer. for 10 years with all groups of students increasing their achievement and traditionally lower-achieving students doing so at a faster pace. And as he showed, California was doing this with far less money and support than other states. When asked in a 2012 Educator interview about those who attack public education, Mockler put it this way: "I attribute this to the consistent drivel of the CSSI or the California Schools Suck Industry, which has profited by declaring that public education students are not making sufficient academic gains and that public schools suck. You have people from business roundtables and chambers and big foundations criticizing public schools who are in favor of privatization. They are wealthy and successful people whose anger about schools borders on hysteria, even though most of these people have kids in private school. They say certain things are 'facts' when there is no evidence to support what they have to say." Mockler was born in Chicago but raised in San Diego. He graduated from El Cajon High School and received a degree in economics from UC Santa Barbara before beginning his career in politics. His first organizing job was the executive director of Youth Against Proposition 14, a 1964 ballot measure that would have repealed Cali- fornia's fair housing law. Mockler was an avid golfer and world traveler. He is survived by his life partner, Carol Farris, two children and five grandchildren. He will be missed by many. Mockler served as California's secretary of education and executive director of the State Board of Education. He also worked many years as legislative staff in the state Legislature, serving as deputy chief of staff to Assembly Speaker Willie Brown. He was a recognized expert in education finance issues in California and founded John Mockler and Associates, an educa- tional consulting firm based in Sacramento. In "retirement," Mockler shared data and his outlook on public schools in reports such as "California's K-12 Public Schools: Great Results with Diminishing Resources," which showed schools are anything but failing. He has been a trusted adviser of CTA for more than 20 years. "John was a true education guru. No one knew more or cared more about public educa- tion policy and how that impacted kids than John," says CTA President Dean E. Vogel. "He believed in the value of public education and had the rare gift of transforming good policy into what would work in classrooms and actually helped ensure every student had a true opportunity to succeed. He will be missed by all who knew him, but his legacy will live on with the graduation of every high school senior and the enrollment of every kindergartner." "His brilliance, tireless energy and wicked sense of humor never allowed bureaucracy or politics to get in the way of what's right for kids," says CTA Executive Director Joe Nuñez. "He solved more state budget crises on the back of a napkin than any governor and did it faster than any computer could be programmed. It was a privilege to have known and worked with John. It's often said that anyone can be replaced. John was the exception to that rule." John was a tireless advocate for public education and spent the last several years speaking about the success of public schools and educators. Always the first to look at facts not rhetoric, Mockler in 2012 documented how California's public schools have been on a steady path of academic growth P H O T O B Y S C O T T B U S C H M A N Profile Advocacy 32

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