Education is an area where I believe my experience can make a difference for our State. California should be the national leader in education, and our students should be performing among the best in the world. Our schools need more resources, and our students need more options for quality instruction.
As a public official, I have a proven track record of support for local schools. My record on education includes:
- Serving as a California State University Trustee, helping guide 23 campuses, 447,000 students and 45,000 faculty and staff — the largest, most diverse and one of the most affordable university systems in the country. As Trustee, I voted repeatedly against excessive executive pay.
- Playing a leading role in the passage of Proposition 30 in 2012 which prevented billions of dollars in additional cuts to our public schools and universities.
- Working directly to enhance education at the local level, helping to pass funding measures aimed at improving the quality of libraries and public schools.
The State Senate plays a critical role in education. It goes beyond funding – which is vital – to creating educational reforms to ensure that each student who attends a public school has an equal opportunity to succeed. My priorities include:
- Local empowerment. We need to empower local school boards to lead on educational issues. The centralization of educational decision-making in Sacramento is not healthy and should be reversed.
- Restore School Reserve Protection. In the Senate, I worked to restore school reserve protections that were stripped away by the Legislature in 2014.
- Teacher Accountability. I believe in accountability at all levels of government, including public schools. There are few jobs more important or difficult than being a public school teacher. We need to support our teachers in every way possible. But they should also be accountable for performance.
- Allow families to select the best schools for their children. I support the ability of families to select the best school environment for their children, be that a public charter school or a nearby public school. I don't support private school vouchers as they siphon vital tax dollars from public schools. Charter schools are an important part of the solution. They provide a healthy alternative for California families who are looking for the best possible education for their children. I am familiar with their many accomplishments and support their goals. The charter schools in our state deliver high-quality, community-based learning that meets tough state standards without excessive bureaucracy and regulations. The state Board of Education should not limit charter schools’ programmatic and fiscal flexibility. They have a strong track record of building student success. I have seen for myself the benefits of a charter-school education, and the pride these students have for their school and their accomplishments.
- Classroom effectiveness. State law should set a framework for helping schools hire and retain high-performing teachers in the classroom. Local communities are in the best position to make these decisions that promote classroom effectiveness.
- Greater educational resources. As a Member of the Senate, I will continue to work to strengthen California’s economy and bring greater resources to our education system. There can be no higher priority for improving K-12 education.
Higher education is a gateway to lifelong learning and employment opportunities. We need to ensure our state universities and colleges remain catalysts for societal progress and individual opportunity, and that they remain accessible and affordable to all Californians.
There are a number of challenges facing our higher education systems that need attention; remedial educational needs of incoming students in English and math; achievement gap between student groups; faculty and staff diversity; and low four-year graduation rates in the CSU system.
I am very proud of the fact that the Cal State System issued degrees to more than 100,000 Californians last year. About 60% of these graduates were the first in their family to graduate from college. I support a merit-based admission policy for our public higher education institutions. We need to make it a priority to support our public universities, as they are making a difference for so many.