Marin, Sonoma County, CA November 7, 2000 Election
Smart Voter


By Joe Nation

Candidate for Member of the State Assembly; District 6

This information is provided by the candidate
This provides a summary of my priorities for increasing school funding and returning control to local school districts.
Improving public education is the single most important step we can take to strengthen the economic and social fabric of California. California's public school system, once near the top in the nation, has struggled for more than two decades.

The two most important steps we must take are the following:
1. Increase funding per pupil and reform how we fund schools
2. Return education to local control.

Funding By any measure, California spends significantly less per pupil than the national average. Local school foundations and PTAs try to make up the difference, but per pupil funding still falls $600-$900 below the national average. California should increase per pupil funding to the national average over the next 6 years. This can be accomplished with several actions:
1. Redirecting funding from other state programs, such as corrections, and from a more efficient use of state resources
2. Allocating one-half of the current budget surplus to education
3. Allowing local districts to pass bonds and parcel taxes with a simple majority vote.

A significant share of the increase in funding should be reserved for increases in teacher salaries. Increased salaries are essential if we are to attract and retain the best instructors in our classrooms.

We also should reform how we fund schools in order to eliminate the funding disparities among districts. Per pupil funding should be raised in low-wealth districts (like Novato) to match funding in other districts.

Funding from the state increasingly is restricted, denying local districts the ability to fund programs or projects they need the most. Funding generally should be unrestricted and should allow local districts the flexibility to fund staff development, infrastructure improvements, textbook purchases, or other activities they deem most appropriate. Funds should be restricted only for low-performing districts where state oversight of operations is necessary.

Local Control The governance of elementary and secondary education is divided among state, county, and local authorities in California. In fact, most voters, and even many educators, are uncertain about the chain of responsibility in education. Increasingly, bureaucrats in Sacramento determine how local school districts operate. The state should set standards and accountability mechanisms for districts, but local school boards and school officials should ultimately have decisionmaking power. In addition, we should streamline reporting requirements for high-performing schools so districts can focus on classroom learning.

Other key steps In order to restore California to excellence in education, we also must:
1. Permanently fund class-size reduction programs. Early research shows that these programs are these most effective in helping children learn to read in grades K-3.
2. Increase salaries for teachers. The average starting salary for a K-12 teacher in the North Bay is about $30,000, 10-20 percent below the average salary for all jobs in the area. In order to attract and retain the best teachers for our classrooms, we must increase salaries by 25 percent over the next six years.
3. Provide more flexibility for teachers to enter or exit the profession and to move across districts. Teachers currently face severe financial penalties if they choose to move across districts or if they choose to leave teaching for another profession. Once specific change would permit more "portable" teacher retirement packages, similar to IRAs. This flexibility also would permit those in other professions to become teachers without financial penalty.
4. Equip every school with safety tools like phones in every classroom, and provide teachers with safety training.
5. Improve building conditions. According to the U.S. GAO, 71% of California's schools possess at least one inadequate building feature, such as leaky roofs, poor or inadequate heating or ventilation, or unsafe electrical power. Reducing the voter requirement for bond approval to a simple majority will allow voters to improve these conditions.

Next Page: Position Paper 2

Candidate Page || Feedback to Candidate || This Contest
November 2000 Home (Ballot Lookup) || About Smart Voter

ca/state Created from information supplied by the candidate: October 5, 2000 12:23
Smart Voter 2000 <>
Copyright © 2000 League of Women Voters of California Education Fund.
The League of Women Voters neither supports nor opposes candidates for public office or political parties.