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Marin, Sonoma County, CA November 7, 2006 Election
Smart Voter

Facing and Fixing our Education Problems

By Jared Huffman

Candidate for Member of the State Assembly; District 6

This information is provided by the candidate
Read about Jared Huffman's plans for revitalizing public education. See why he's endorsed by numerous education leaders, including award-winning teachers and administrators.
You've heard the problems. California ranks among the worst states in America in most categories. We need more teachers, yet current teachers are discouraged by low pay and layers of tests that stifle creative teaching. Schools that eschew the tests or fall short on test scores risk punitive measures under No Child Left Behind.

In the Assembly, I'll work to fix these problems and revitalize public education. This starts with honoring the minimum funding mandates of Prop. 98. In 2004, citing a fiscal emergency, the legislature suspended Prop. 98, robbing schools of $2.3 billion. This "emergency" consisted mainly of a stubborn Governor who refused to raise taxes. I'll advance reforms to require the declaration of an actual public emergency before Prop. 98 can be suspended. An aversion to taxes won't qualify. Further, I propose an automatic pay reduction for legislators whenever Prop. 98 is suspended.

To secure the billions of dollars in new funding needed to reduce class sizes, hiring more teachers, and bring technology into classrooms, I'll champion fiscal reforms including eliminating wasteful subsidies and tax loopholes such as the commercial property windfall under Prop. 13. While preserving Prop. 13 protections for homeowners, we should update this 28-year old law with a "split roll" reform that requires corporations to pay their fair share of property taxes, boosting state revenues by up to $3 billion. I'll also advance a "polluter pays" policy that requires polluters to bear the cost of the pollution and public health problems they cause, a reform that could increase revenues by $5.6 billion over five years.

To relieve the crippling effects of one-size-fits-all testing requirements and funding restrictions, I'll fight to allow teachers flexibility to be creative classroom professionals instead of "teaching to the test," and provide more spending discretion for administrators to target high priority needs. This includes streamlining testing systems, acknowledging alternative systems of learning and accountability, and working with state and federal officials to reform unfunded mandates and punitive provisions of No Child Left Behind.

Finally, my priorities include factors outside the K-12 system that determine academic success for many kids + including preschool, after school activities, and simply having a safe place to study. I support the universal preschool initiative (Prop. 82), which takes an important step toward integrating early childhood education into public education. Research shows that every dollar spent on preschool returns $2.62 due to savings in remedial education, lower dropout rates and less crime. It's time to make quality preschool a right, not a privilege.

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