Driving Miss Kathy

Anaheims Katherine Smith hopes to become Californias next public schools chief

Yet Smith is a warm and loquacious host, so voluble and enthusiastic about explaining her mission that she almost hits an oncoming car while making a left turn because she's so distracted.

Hours after she dropped me off, Smith phones to share one last anecdote. It involves a Somali family recently arrived in Anaheim. To Smith, the story perfectly illustrates the challenges facing public education in California.

"The family was one husband, three wives and 17 children," Smith tells me. "We had to put all 17 children in their very own portable classroom with their very own teacher. And do you know what we had to teach them first, even before how to speak English? How to use the bathroom."

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