Politics & Government

The Buzz: Gov. Jerry Brown haunted by high school exam question

Years later, exam question

about a leaf haunts Brown

Gov. Jerry Brown has made his displeasure with standardized tests plain any number of times. On Monday, he offered his story about a leaf.

Interviewed onstage during a conference, Brown recalled a “shocking” exam he took as a high school senior. It included only one question, Brown said: “Write your impression of a green leaf.”

Brown, now 75, said he “didn’t know how to deal with it” and now, walking by a tree, he wonders, “How’s my impression going? Can I feel anything? … Actually, this is a very powerful question that has haunted me for 50 years, but you can’t put that on a standardized test.”

James Bennet, editor in chief of The Atlantic, asked Brown about preparing students for a global economy. “Do you think students are in the global economy?” Brown responded. “No, they’re in the classroom.” When Bennet said students eventually would be in the global economy, Brown objected again.

“No, they’re not,” he said. “They’re going to be in a job somewhere. We’re not in the global economy. I hate to disillusion you. We’re just here, in this hallway, with a bunch of people looking at us.”

– David Siders


California’s highest-paid city employee last year was the city manager of Buena Park – $545,394, according to the latest compilation of local salary data by state Controller John Chiang. The second highest was a police sergeant in South Gate, $486,044. The highest-paid county employee was an orthopedic surgeon in Kern County, $1,040,651. Most of the highest paid listed on Chiang's ranking included vacation pay or other one-time payouts. The report lists salaries by position and not by name.

– Dan Walters