Gavin: Renew California’s Commitment to Education

As many of you close to me already know, I have volunteered my time as an education advisor for the Gavin Newsom gubernatorial campaign in California. He recently released his education platform. Please be assured that I have done my best to communicate community-based policy as an alternative to the top-down, privatization reforms (charters, vouchers, VAM etc.) that many Democrat and Republican candidates have been peddling the last ten years.

Notably, it appears that Democrats are finding more progressive values for their education platforms for gubernatorial campaigns in 2018.

Newsom is calling for the California Promise, an approach to think about education as a lifelong pursuit. He believes that our role begins when babies are still in the womb and it doesn’t end until we’ve done all we can to prepare them for a quality job and successful career.

This is the visual version of the California Promise:

Here is the California Promise in detail:

Focus on the First Three Years of a Child’s Life

Studies have shown that 85 percent of brain development occurs within the first three years of a child’s life — these key early years are the foundation of every child’s future potential. To create a strong foundation of educational success, Gavin believes we must expand proven programs that support the health and wellbeing of our state’s babies and their families, including prenatal and developmental screenings, family nurse visits and affordable, high quality childcare. Gavin believes in the promise of universal preschool, equipping all of California’s children with the tools to succeed when they start kindergarten. Our early childhood strategy must also include expanded family leave because a parent should never have to choose between keeping a job and taking care of their newborn child. Investment in the first three years pays off: Students who participate in early education programs have been shown to have fewer interactions with the criminal justice system, achieve greater educational outcomes, and go on to have successful careers.

Create a Financial Foundation for College, Beginning in Kindergarten

In addition to giving California’s students a strong start through early education, Gavin believes all students should progress through their academic careers knowing that college is within reach. As Governor, Gavin will launch college savings accounts for every incoming kindergartener across the state, linking the next generation to the promise of higher education. This foundation will help families, regardless of their zip code, plan a bright future for their child.

Support Students in Full-Service Community Schools

Gavin believes in the promise of community schools to anchor our neighborhoods with the comprehensive opportunities kids need to stay in school and get ready for the world of work: wellness centers, to address children’s physical and mental adolescent health needs, arts education, technology classes and computer science for every child, after school programs, after school and summer learning programs, and true public-public partnerships. California has long been a leader in supporting after school programs, and now serves over half a million children in low income communities each day. Gavin understands the importance of after school programs in closing the opportunity gap, and believes in extending this support throughout the year, by investing in summer programming. Summer programs are critical to keeping California’s students on track to high school graduation by combating summer learning loss and helping reinforce what students have learned throughout the year.

Equip Every Student with Access to STEM Education

California is the tech capital of the world, but we’ve failed to align our education system to meet this economic opportunity. The state is home to over 68,000 open computing jobs with an average salary over $100,000 that we can’t fill with California public school graduates. Meanwhile, only a quarter of California’s high schools offer computer science. And sadly, that disparity is punctuated by striking gender and racial gaps. Of the 10,244 California high school students who took the AP Computer Science exam in 2016, only 27% were female. Only 1,487 were Hispanic or Latino and only 146 were black. That is unacceptable. We have a lot of work to do to make sure every student in every school has equal access to computer science and the opportunities it opens up. Computer Science for All is an economic and equity imperative. Arkansas is well on its way to requiring computer science courses in all high schools. California should be leading the way with them.

Attract and Retain Quality Teachers

Unlike U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, we will attract teachers, not attack teachers. Our state faces an acute teaching shortage, particularly in special education, bilingual education and STEM. A full 75% of California’s school districts reported experiencing a teacher shortage last year. While this is a widespread problem, Gavin understands that California communities with greater proportions of students of color and students living in poverty have been especially impacted by both shortages and high rates of teacher turnover. For California students to succeed, Gavin understands we must keep quality teachers in the classroom. As Governor, Gavin will develop and encourage state and local incentives to attract highly qualified candidates into the profession, and will improve educational outcomes and teacher retention by investing in teachers as the professionals they are.

Increase Access to and the Affordability of Higher Education

In California, and across the United States, education opens the door to opportunity, which is why Gavin is laser-focused on restoring the access, affordability, and quality of our state’s public higher education system. He is passionate about community colleges, and believes they are the backbone of our economy and one of our most effective tools for upward mobility. That’s why his California Promise initiative will guarantee two free years of community college tuition, create pathways to quality jobs and reduce debt for students pursuing a bachelor’s degree. The sad reality is that many students leave college with debt levels that would finance a home mortgage. Many don’t finish college at all because of the cost our education system puts in front of them. The California Promise will help more students to become college-ready and bolster efforts to support our students, because enrolling is only half the challenge: graduating is the key. The community colleges, Cal State, and University of California segments operate in their own silos, which is why Gavin will create a new higher education coordinating council to set bold statewide goals and hold institutions accountable to them. We need to expand access, improve affordability, bolster transfers and completion rates — and link financial incentives to clear student outcomes. Technology is radically changing the world and the future of work. The state has been flat-footed in its response to uneven income growth and Sacramento has under-invested in higher education. We can and will change that.

Provide Pathways to Quality Jobs Through 500,000 Apprenticeships

While college may not be the right choice for every Californian, Gavin believes all Californians deserve the opportunity to secure a good paying job. As Governor, he will encourage businesses to become creators, not just consumers of talent by partnering with our community colleges and establishing 500,000 earn-and-learn apprenticeships by 2029, creating a new vocational education pipeline of high-skill workers. In an increasingly global world, apprenticeships provide the education and training necessary to prepare Californians for the jobs of today and tomorrow. These unique partnerships between business, labor, government and the educational community expand opportunity for Californians in growing sectors like advanced manufacturing, energy, health, information technology and hospitality.

Unleash Educational Data

As Governor, Gavin will reassert California as an education data leader. The public deserves to know whether all students, regardless of background, have access to good schools and equitable funding. Gavin knows this transparency will enable educators to better tailor supports and remove barriers to opportunity. Gavin will connect our early childhood, K-12 and higher education data systems so that we can best serve California’s students as they progress through their education.

Who is Gavin’s biggest competition? There are a variety of poorly polling candidates that my friends and neighbors prefer, but the political reality of the situation is that this is a TWO PERSON RACE between Gavin Newsom and Antonio Villaraigosa. Here is what Diane Ravitch about Villaraigosa in the 2013 post Farewell to Mayor Villaraigosa: Pragmatist or Lacky of the Rich?

As Antonio Villaraigosa exits the mayoralty of Los Angeles, there will be both tributes and brickbats.

Among other things, he will be remembered for his failed attempt to take control of the public schools and for his hostility to teachers, to their union, and to public education. On his watch, there was “an explosion” in the number of privately managed charter schools, a high priority for the billionaires.

He did get control of a small number of schools, raised millions of dollars to turn them into “incubators of reform,” but demonstrated that his schools performed on state tests no differently from regular public schools. Mayoral control has no magic elixir.

He fought hard to tie teachers’ evaluations to test scores, despite the absence of any evidence for doing so. He controlled the school board through his surrogates, but recently lost control when two of the candidates he supported were defeated despite the millions raised by the mayor.

This turn of events is especially surprising in light of Villaraigosa’s early career in the labor movement. His conversion is a tribute to the power of money in American politics.

Antonio Villaraigosa would be a disaster for community-based, democratic control of public education— his record in LA is clear on this point. In fact, he recently stated unequivocal support to privately managed charter schools in a debate.

“I didn’t get the teachers union’s support because their number one issue is stopping charters,” Villaraigosa said, saying he thought parents deserved more choice in their kids’ schools.

By contrast, Newsom is on the record in a debate as being more critical of charter schools and calling for more transparency and accountability,

Newsom said, “I am not ideologically opposed to charter schools, and there are some extraordinary charter schools out there. But I am all about accountability and transparency. It is public money, and we need to be accountable for that.”

“We need to take a good look at some these out-of-state charter management organizations, who are not necessarily performing as well as they should or as accountable as they should be,” he said. “There has been enough evidence of significant abuse, self-dealing, conflicts that deserve scrutiny and frankly are not getting enough scrutiny as I think some of the organizations should.”

It is also well known in California that Gov. Jerry Brown is a big fan of ALL charter schools and has consistently vetoed everything in sight that would create transparency and accountability for charter schools. Heck, it is unknown whether Brown will even continue to allow hunger in charter schools. California charter schools are currently exempt from the universal lunch law for poor children that Gov. Brown championed in the 1970s.

Brown even loves for profit charter schools. He and Betsy DeVos are apparently bed fellows on this topic. Here are his published comments:

In opposing for-profit charters, the candidates appear willing to go further than Brown, who has opposed legislative efforts to ban for-profit schools from the state. Two years ago, he vetoed a bill, AB 787, that would have done just that.

In his veto message, Brown said, “I don’t believe the case has been made to eliminate for-profit charter schools in California.”

Jerry, just like Obama, has been a disappointment for community-based, democratically controlled education policy proponents. Their penchant for private management and privatization in eduation has been appalling.

In conclusion, there has been some push back from California progressives because they want Gavin to go further on charters and a few other issues. But what is clear is that Gavin’s thoughtful, progressive California Promise education platform positions him as a visionary advocate for students and educators in California.

And you know that they say, “as California goes, so goes the nation.”

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  • What does it mean that a Governor Newsom would be “ideologically opposed to charters”? Does it mean that a Governor Newsom is committed to remaking the California School Board into a School Board that is opposed to charter schools in defense of public schools instead of the growth of privately managed charter schools and the destruction of public education?

    Liked by 1 person

  • Patricia A Carlin

    I have a lot of respect for you, Dr. JVH.
    Please work with him to understand the problems that charter schools cause by not having the same regulation and rules as public schools
    . In Michigan the Governor supported and signed the ability for charter schools to share in bond revenue, despite the fact that they can close without warning (and after count day), leaving public schools to care for their students without extra funds and the charter school admins often getting large bonuses for mismanagement.
    I know you are from Michigan so maybe the excellent article the Free Press published a few years ago might help him see the problems and often fraud.


  • Newsom said, “I am not ideologically opposed to charter schools, and there are some extraordinary charter schools out there. But I am all about accountability and transparency. It is public money, and we need to be accountable for that.”

    Well, Lt. Governor Newsom should be “ideologically opposed to charter schools” because charter schools are an existential threat to public schools.

    And, what good is a Governor that is unwilling to defend pubic schools? That is what we have had with Governor Brown’s governing while California has grown more charters than any state.

    Another Governor Brown’s majority appointments to the California School Board have on appeal reversed local school districts, and county boards of education decisions, to deny a charter.

    Finally, Governor Brown did nothing to defend against Proposition 39 and requirement for charters to co-locate in existing public schools adding unneeded friction between charters and public schools struggling for space with district public schools.

    We don’t need four more years of a Governor unwilling to defend public education.

    Liked by 1 person

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