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Poizner releases excerpt from upcoming memoir, 'Mt. Pleasant'

March 9, 2010 | 12:28 pm

"It was a tough crowd. Nobody shifted to the edge of their seats, let alone gave me an ovation. Still, my inner voice told me to stay the course."

It sounds like this could be California gubernatorial candidate Steve Poizner fretting about his upcoming speech at the state Republican Party convention this Saturday.

But alas, it's a quote from "Mt. Pleasant," Poizner's forthcoming book about his year teaching in a public high school in San Jose. The book is set for release on April Fool's Day, when Poizner will join Republican rival Meg Whitman and GOP Senate candidate Carly Fiorina as candidates who have penned (or had someone else pen) autobiographies to help make the sale on the campaign trail.

Judging from the chapter of Poizner's book, which is now available online, "Mt. Pleasant" is one part self-righteous multimillionaire looking for a purpose, one part humbling of aforementioned multimillionaire, and of course, one part screed against the state's public education system.

"Decades worth of bureaucratic education policy ion the Golden State had often left Californians expecting to be underwhelmed by their state's schools," writes Poizner, the state insurance commissioner. "My demands for community projects, public speaking and a lot of writing were going to make for a highly atypical semester of twelfth-grade American Government."

Poizner then engages in a civics lesson of his own, talking about how the landmark school funding case Serrano v. Priest "triggered what has become an increasing centralization and bureaucratization of California's public education system."

From there, the chapter evolves into a diatribe about how public school teachers "frequently feel powerless, like puppets manipulated by the state's Department of Education ... California's attempts to overhaul education has caused all boats to sink instead of rise."

Poizner writes briefly of his own Texas upbringing, which he says "bore some resemblance to "Ozzie and Harriet" -- if Ozzie and Harriet celebrated Hanukkah. And he makes reference to how his bookish image tends, at first glance, to turn certain people off. "Starting off the semester by wearing pressed pants and shirts did nothing to help me fit in with either the denim-loving students or the other teachers."

We'll be watching to see how he is received by the delegates at this weekend's convention.

-- Anthony York

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