This is an archive of a past election.|
See http://www.smartvoter.org/ca/state/ for current information.
|Marin, Sonoma County, CA||June 6, 2006 Election|
Joe Nation's K-12 Education Position Paper
By Joe NationCandidate for United States Representative; District 6; Democratic Party
This information is provided by the candidate
Education has been a central focus of my tenure in the State Legislature. The future of our children, California and its economy, and our nation depend on how we educate the next generation. A rigorous accountability system, top-notch educators, the use of technology, innovative new ways of instruction, high expectations and standards for all children, and career technical curriculum are all foundations of a 21st century education.Education has been a central focus of my tenure in the State Legislature. The future of our children, California and its economy, and our nation depend on how we educate the next generation. While we recognize the importance of public education, we too often accept the status quo and a system tailored to educating a workforce that no longer exists. A rigorous accountability system, top-notch educators, the use of technology, innovative new ways of instruction, high expectations and standards for all children, and career technical curriculum are all foundations of a 21st century education.
California's schools were once a national model for education excellence. But long-term cuts in funding and a subsequent decline in achievement levels have diminished our standing. Why this happened should come as no surprise. At the same time that funding levels have decreased, demographic changes have produced a student population that is more complex, challenging, and costly to educate. One in five students comes from a family in poverty, and one in four is learning English. Societal expectations put increasing pressure on schools to fill the gap once assumed by families, health professionals, and clergy. Students with learning and physical disabilities who were once left out of mainstream classrooms are now rightly being served. And while the costs to educate California1s increasingly diverse student population have greatly increased, so have our expectations for what a public school education should provide.
It was once acceptable to hold high expectations only for students who were college-bound and to expect that the majority of students, particularly the socio-economically disadvantaged, would follow a "general education" track that would lead to a blue-collar job sufficient to support a family. Today, rapid technological advances and a global economy have largely eliminated good-paying, low-skill jobs in California, and all students must achieve higher learning levels if they are to succeed as adults. Unfortunately, neither education funding nor education practices have fully caught up to California1s challenges. Doing so will require significant new investments in our education system to meet the challenges of preparing California1s student population for the demands of the 21st century.
Meanwhile, educators at the local level struggle on a daily basis to meet unfair and under-funded federal mandates that take away from the basic principles of education
Our challenge in California has been to adjust our accountability model
Another example of the troubling federal intrusion into our education system is a little known provision of NCLB regarding opting out of testing. California law, I believe correctly, allows parents to opt their child out of state testing if they so choose. But NCLB argues that the federal government should make such decisions, not parents, and penalizes a school if too many parents choose not to have their children take the exam. I believe this assault on parental choice is wrong and never should have been approved by Congress.
Congress also approved another provision of NCLB that has serious consequences
Congress continues to pass laws that increase the number of duplicative data reports which districts are required to complete. Here in California, seventy percent of the data reports we demand of our schools come from federal mandates. This encroachment on educators and support staff drains critical time from the focus of educating our youth. The federal government and Congress must consolidate its reporting requirements to a fair and equitable system that local educators can manage and that accurately reflects the data necessary to improve learning.
Over the past several years there has also been a focus specifically on high school reform. High school should be the gateway to a future of opportunity for all students. Yet, too many of those students simply are not reaching the academic levels needed to succeed in the workplace, in college, or as contributing members of society. Innovation is the key to the future of public education, yet status quo has been the norm. It has been said that if Rip Van Winkle woke up today, the only place he would be comfortable would be in a California high school. So I've led the fight in the state legislature to make the implementation of smaller learning communities a reality in California high schools.
I authored legislation for Marin and Sonoma county school districts to allow flexibility in class size reduction and to establish small learning communities. These communities are an innovative approach to education, allowing teachers and students to spend extended time together for more than one class session per day. In turn, relationships are forged, trust between student and teachers is achieved, and learning becomes paramount.
Acceptance of the status quo has plagued education policy for some time. Creative solutions, flexibility, and a climate that encourages innovative ideas must be interjected into the education conversation. My AB 97 (Statutes 2004) allows students, if they choose to do so, to transfer between school districts. At times, a student's educational needs may be a better fit at an alternative school site.
In the end, the job of high schools, and our entire education system, must be to ensure that all of our students graduate with the ability to fulfill their potential
As lawmakers, we must take very seriously our role in responsible leadership and decision making that assists and encourages our schools but doesn't place counterproductive burdens in the way of educating our children. We must find additional resources to invest in our schools' most important asset: our teachers and support staff. We need more money to improve training and hire additional highly qualified teachers, especially in the areas of math and science. With this in mind, I introduced AB 956 (Statutes of 2003), which defines "educator." I did this to ensure that California's educators were treated equally since state regulators continue to penalize our best and brightest by denying funding for teacher recruitment and retention programs. We must also fully fund special education through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). I will continue to advocate for increased revenues for preschool and after school programs.
In California, we have created world-class expectations for our students and schools, but we simply aren't funding schools at the level they need to produce world-class results. NCLB has been a roadblock. Leadership is needed to correct the mistakes that have already been made. By tackling key issues, such as school funding, addressing the concerns of NCLB, and better preparing our students to compete in a global economy, we will give the youth of California
Position Paper 2
|| Feedback to Candidate
|| This Contest
June 2006 Home (Ballot Lookup) || About Smart Voter
ca/state Created from information supplied by the candidate: April 19, 2006 08:42
Smart Voter <http://www.smartvoter.org/>
Copyright © League of Women Voters of California Education Fund.
The League of Women Voters neither supports nor opposes candidates for public office or political parties.
|| Feedback to Candidate
|| This Contest