But subjects like science, history and art are set aside in the classroom in favor of English and math. The latter being the two subjects at the heart of the state's standardized test.
"We emphasize so much language, arts and math because our schools are measured that way and our students are measured that way," said Tim Martin, president of the Riverside City Teachers Association.
Students' performances on the tests are tied directly to federal and state funding. During the governor's state of the state address Wednesday, he called on lawmakers to shift the direction of education.
"What most needs to be avoided is concentrating more and more decision making at the federal or state level," the governor said.
Instead, Brown wants to put that decision making into the hands of local educators, meaning school districts, principals, and teachers would have more input on how students are educated.
Martin says it will be a tough act to balance.
"It would be wonderful if we could have both, if we could have more local control with federal funding, but that is not the direction right now from Washington," he said. "I am not really sure how you get that figured out."
The governor is looking to voters to give his plan momentum.
This November, voters will be asked to pass a temporary tax increase or face more cuts likely to impact education.