A fully-funded California public school system is an invaluable investment in our future. And that system should support Californians of all ages and walks of life.
Universal Child Care
Childcare in California is expensive. Everyday demands on working families already stretch budgets to their breaking point before child care is even factored in. Single parents and couples alike deserve 36 weeks of paid parental leave — and when they’re ready to go back to work, they deserve to know that their children are safe and sound. A free child care system will create good jobs that help foster healthy children.
Universal Pre-K / Support for Public Schools
Study after study has shown that pre-kindergarten education sets children up for long term academic success. Every child deserves access to free, high-quality, year-round educational programs from the age of three onward.
K-12 Education Reform
The issues facing our K-12 public education system in California are varied, and dire. But there are simple solutions that we can implement to dramatically improve the quality of education we provide to our future generations that will ensure a strong, vibrant future for California.
School districts up and down the state are suffering from chronic under-funding and this absolutely must addressed from the outset. Every student deserves access to clean, well-lit, comfortable classrooms full of all of the supplies and individual attention they need to help them succeed.
- Books and other materials, when there are even enough for each student to use, are woefully out of date, falling apart, or otherwise lacking
- Class sizes are too large
- Students are subject to locker searches — we need counselors in schools, not police
- Teachers are underpaid
- Classrooms and school buildings are in disrepair
- Heating and air conditioning don’t always work properly, making learning difficult for distracted and uncomfortable students and teachers alike
California ranks 41st in the country in per-pupil spending, and it shows. Let’s change that.
Outdated rules mean that teachers are sometimes on the hook to pay for their own substitute while battling illness. And our teachers have to fight hard during every contract renegotiation to keep their health insurance from being cut. Universal healthcare would unburden teachers so they can focus on their students.
Every campus needs full-time nurses and mental health counselors. Right now, many schools only have a nurse on campus a couple days a week and each counselor serves thousands of students. This puts students at risk by overburdening dedicated staff. It is common sense that we provide everything that students need to achieve at every school across the state.
Teachers across the nation are handcuffed by standardized testing requirements, we call this problem over-analysis. Teachers report that much of their between-class time is spent filling out paperwork instead of focusing on homework or meeting individual student needs. While this demand for constant reporting doubtless comes from a place of good intentions, constant progress checking ignores the full scope of education, and demoralizes both teachers and students.
Charter School Reform
Our state’s charter schools are currently regulated by a confusing mess of bureaucracies, which can result in some truly horrifying conditions for students. If a school loses accreditation with one office, they can simply shop around at other offices for a new license, without improving or fixing the problems that caused them to lose their accreditation in the first place! And the regulating agencies can be so overworked that some schools are being accredited by default without their application ever having been reviewed. By unifying charter school regulation we will stop this educational malpractice — charter schools need to be run for the benefit of the students, not for the profit of those who manage the school.
We were proud to stand alongside UTLA on the picket line as they went on strike to fight for their students earlier this year. California has been depriving students and teachers–neglecting our school buildings, and denying funding for basic supplies and support staff for teachers–all to pay charters. A robust teachers’ union, like UTLA, is critical to the success of our students and our public schools. And we will support them in the classroom, in the Assembly, and on the picket lines.
Special needs students are often considered last in budgets. Without the funding for individual attention, minor issues can become major roadblocks. Additionally, “disability” is used as an overbroad category. An autistic, blind, or developmentally-delayed student each require different learning styles and support, but too often they are dumped side by side in the classroom and denied all but the most basic assistance. We will work hand in hand with our teachers to create a system that leaves no student behind and ensures access to specialized education for everyone who needs it.
Debt Free Higher Education / Trade School for All
Access to high quality public education cannot end when you turn eighteen. Every public university, college, and any other post-secondary educational program in the state of California should be debt-free for all residents. Recent changes to state law that provide for a year or two of tuition-free community college is a good place to start, but it’s only a half-measure, at best. Debt-free college is not an unreasonable demand for all public post-secondary institutions in California — it was the norm before 1978’s Proposition 13 gutted school funding at every level in the state, but this is especially true for higher education.
To simplify the math let’s just use income before taxes:
- It took 300 hours of working at the 1975 federal minimum wage of $2.10/hr to afford University of California tuition and fees per year.
- It now takes 1263 hours at $11/hr to pay for one year of 2018-2019 tuition and fees — before taxes — that’s nearly 32 weeks of full-time work without spending any of the earnings on any trivialities like food, rent, or literally anything else.
The reality of our current level of public education funding is that we are failing our students across the board. What’s more, we’re saddling our college students with crippling debts to earn the same degrees that previous generations could afford with minimal, if any, student loans.
“…debt-free college does not preclude a modest amount of work or family savings in order to meet the cost of attendance; it simply sends a message to students that costs will never exceed what could be reasonably earned from a summer or part-time job.”
– Mark Huelsman, demos.org
This commitment must extend to everyone in California, regardless of immigration status. Governor Newsom has increased funding for DACA students, but his plan falls far short of fulfilling the actual need. Students who grew up in California without legal status or in mixed status households deserve the same access to higher education as every other Californian.
Labor Justice in Education
We must expand access to higher education, but it can’t come on the backs of underpaid, contract faculty. 73% of all courses at colleges and universities are taught by contingent faculty — instructors who are not tenure-track and who are often hired as “just in time” solutions at these schools. We must expand labor protections for adjuncts, call for existing laws to be enforced, and close the loopholes that allow such exploitation.
The National Labor Relations Board recently ruled that graduate student workers, like teaching assistants and researchers, do not have the right to unionize. This is a dangerous way of undervaluing their achievements and efforts. A working higher education system must include protections for every employee and faculty member.
Continuing & Adult Education
As people flee environmental destruction in their home countries, they come to California. For too long, ESL education has been ignored and underfunded, sending a signal to thousands that they don’t count and shouldn’t trust the system. Conversely, integrating these students, whether young or adult, creates a stronger, more diverse and inclusive society.
An educated workforce is not a luxury. It is essential for California’s future. Debt-free college is an investment in keeping jobs in state, creating upward mobility, and encouraging everyone to engage in a lifetime of learning. No matter what your age is, exploring a new hobby, learning a new language, or changing career paths should all be easy, accessible, and affordable.