The Dysfunctional State of California

When I moved to California in 1983, the state was terrific. The weather was fabulous, the coastline and mountains were spectacular, the people were friendly, and the government was normal.

That was then. Over the past forty years the first three have remained constant, but now many of the state’s politicos are bonkers.

Many Californians realize that the state’s leadership is a disaster and are leaving . . . en masse. A study released last week revealed that great numbers of people are U-Hauling it out of California and flocking to states with lower taxes, better schools, more traditional values, etc. In fact, California led the country in out-migration in 2022, with far more one-way U-Haul rentals leaving the state than coming in.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest statistics, the biggest gains from net domestic migration last year were in Florida (318,855), Texas (230,961) and North Carolina (99,796), while the biggest losses were in California (-343,230), New York (-299,557) and Illinois (141,656).

As R Street Institute western region director Steve Greenhut reports, “ . . . the true indicator of success or failure involves people voting with their feet—or their U-Hauls. Californians aren’t fleeing our weather or economy, but our bad public policy.”

Indeed, bad public policy abounds in California. For one, Gavin Newsom has assembled a task force to study and develop reparation proposals for African Americans. Specifically, he would like to provide $223,000 in reparations directly to the descendants of slaves living in the state. The tax ramifications of this unbelievably asinine idea are appalling. I’d love to ask the governor why my tax dollars should be spent this way, since only one relative of mine was in the country during the time of slavery and he fought for the Union in the Civil War. I’d also like to ask him what he plans to do about mixed-race individuals and couples. As Larry Elder notes, “Colin Kaepernick was born to 19-year-old Heidi Russo, who is white. His birth father is of Ghanaian, Nigerian/Ivorian ancestry. Colin was adopted by a white couple. Does he get a check or does he cut one?”

Another way the state is fleecing taxpayers is a new law that forces them to pay up to $400 million of union dues. As National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix avers, “The idea that they’re going to give union members a tax credit, which is really just a dollar for dollar reduction in the taxes they owe . . . is really just another example of how Gavin Newsom and the regressives in the California General Assembly in Sacramento are trying to use governmental tax policy to get more workers into unions, which means more union dues for political expenditures.”

SB 1375, another terrible idea, is now law. This horror allows nurses to perform abortions; no doctors need to be present.

AB 2098 now requires medical licensing boards in California to take disciplinary action against doctors who are involved with the dissemination of misinformation or disinformation related to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus or COVID-19.

Newsom also signed a law that decriminalizes jaywalking because of “racism.” The “Freedom to Walk Act” will prevent law enforcement from stopping people who are crossing the street not at a crosswalk unless they are in visible danger. The law’s proponents insist that jaywalking is a racist crime because it is allegedly enforced unfairly in “communities of color” where people allegedly cannot afford to pay the fines.

Another law puts the state in control of fast-food restaurants. The socialist-inspired AB 257 creates a 10-member “Fast Food Council” which would serve for 10 years. The commissars are tasked with setting wages and working conditions for the fast-food industry. But after a group of restaurants balked and collected petition signatures against this outrageous law, it has mercifully been put on hold.

And of course, California also is a leader in perverse LGBTQ schemes. In fact, the state is now an official refuge for “trans kids.” SB 107, which became law January 1, erodes parents’ rights by allowing minor children to travel to California for trans procedures. Citing the Protect Child Health Coalition, Katy Grimes explains, “Even more shocking is the law actually authorizes parental kidnapping (when a non-custodial parent illegally takes a child from the parent who has legal custody) if the purpose of the kidnapping is to subject the child to radical gender transition procedures.”

At the same time, Rick Chavez Zbur, who from 2014 to 2021 led a group called Equality California, is now in the California State Assembly. Zbur wants to mandate “LGBTQ+ cultural competency” training for teachers, which Equality California lobbied to have included in the 2021 state budget. 

Course materials instruct teachers to hang pride flags in their classrooms and hide students’ “gender identities” from parents. The legislature has also said the training should instruct teachers on how to connect students with doctors who can “support” their transition.

Also, in late 2021, AB 1184, a bill cosponsored by Planned Parenthood, became law. This atrocity “prohibits insurance companies from revealing to the policyholder the ‘sensitive services’ of anyone on their policy, including minor children (starting at age 12), even though the policy owner is financially responsible for the services.” The term “sensitive services” refers to all health care services related to mental or behavioral health, sexual and reproductive health, sexually transmitted infections, substance use disorder, gender affirming care, etc. The bill doesn’t detail the kindly sounding “gender affirming care,” but as defined by the University of California, San Francisco, it’s hormone therapy and a laundry list of surgeries including vaginectomy, scrotoplasty, voice modification, etc.

If you are a parent, in addition to all the sexualization and other types of indoctrination that children get in government-run schools, you must deal with the all-too-often inferior education they receive, not to mention the lies the establishment broadcasts about it. To wit, during the 2021-2022 school year, data showed that the state’s four-year high school graduation rate climbed to 87 percent, up from 83.6 percent in 2020–2021. However, in the same stretch, the state’s chronic absenteeism rate skyrocketed. (California defines chronic absenteeism as students missing 10 percent of the days they were enrolled for any reason.) 

The no-show rate leapt from 14.3 percent in 2020–2021 to 30 percent in 2021–2022.

Smell a big fat rat?

EdSource’s John Fensterwald explains: 

The high school graduation rate in 2021-22 reached a record high statewide and rose significantly for most student groups, although the progress warrants an asterisk. Recognizing the hardships many students experienced during Covid and the challenges of teachers in grading fairly during remote learning, the Legislature passed Assembly Bill 104. It allowed parents to request that F’s and D’s for high school students be changed to pass or no-pass. It also gave last year’s juniors and seniors the option to graduate with the state’s minimum requirements, made up of 13 courses totaling about 130 credits.

The situation in Los Angeles is even more egregious. About 46 percent of the city’s students were chronically absent last year—more than double compared to the previous year, according to district numbers. Nevertheless, their grades are rising.

Their standardized test scores tell a different story, however. The Los Angeles Times examined district-wide spring 2022 grades and the state’s 2022 standardized test scores and found:

  • In math, 73 percent of 11th-graders earned As, Bs, and Cs, while test scores showed only 19 percent met grade-level standards.
  • For 8th-graders, 79 percent earned As, Bs and Cs in math. Test scores showed 23 percent met grade-level standards.
  • In English, 85 percent of 6th-graders earned As, Bs and Cs, while 40 percent met grade-level standards.
  • For 7th-graders, 82 percent earned As, Bs and Cs in English, but test scores showed just 43 percent met grade-level standards.

The colleges are ridiculous. Stanford, for example, has issued an Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative. This is a “multi-phase, multi-year project to address harmful language in IT at Stanford.” There is even a “Content Warning” at the beginning of the document which alerts us that the website “contains language that is offensive.”


“America” is out. “U.S. citizen” is preferred, as South Americans are Americans too, doncha know!

Walk-in hours? Not acceptable! Now it’s “drop-in” Don’t want to make the disabled feel bad! 

The folks at the Babylon Bee are probably cringing as they have no way to satirize this; it is already laugh-out-loud funny. At least it would be if it weren’t so tragic.

The above is just a small sampling of what has turned the Golden State into a dysfunctional mess. So what’s good about living in California? The weather is still better than in most other states, the natural beauty is intact and the people—those who still reside here—tend to be friendly. Full stop.

This article first appeared at Frontpagemag.com.

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About Larry Sand

Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network—a nonpartisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers and the general public with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues. The views presented here are strictly his own.

Photo: Robert Alexander/Getty Images