"Inaction is complicity. We must do what we can to create safe schools where students can thrive in their own creativity and happiness. A culture that includes systemic gun violence is unacceptable." ---Ruth Musser-Lopez
THE FOLLOWING IS FROM THE DEMOCRATIC PART PLATFORM AND RUTH'S AGREES, AND INCLUDES ADDITIONAL COMMENT IN CAPS.
We must work to make California schools a sanctuary for all children, irrespective of documentation and/or protected class. We must provide a safe environment where students and staff do not feel threatened and are free from bullying and harassment and where restorative policies and practices eliminate the school-to-prison pipeline. We must end zero-tolerance policies that criminalize student behavior, and instead, develop school discipline reforms that encourage counseling, education, and positive behavior. Sworn peace officers in schools must be adequately trained to work with children and teenagers and understand that the use of force against students is only a last resort. TEACHERS SHOULD NOT BE TOTNG GUNS INTO THE CLASS ROOM AND SHOULD NOT BE REQUIRED TO.
We believe in a universally well-educated population. To achieve this, California students must have access to world-class pre-K-12 public education that will prepare them to live, work, and thrive in a multi-cultural, multi-lingual, and highly connected world. We must fully fund public education to correct years of insufficient allocations.
We must prepare our students for postsecondary education, career technical education, and active citizenship in the 21st century. To assure access to modern jobs, all districts should be required to offer STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. All students, especially those underrepresented in STEM, should be encouraged to study, and be supported in, these subjects.
To help educate California's young leaders and to prepare them to compete for challenging jobs, California Democrats will:
- Ensure that all California four-year-old children have access to a high-quality preschool;
- Encourage stronger coordination between early learning programs and K-12 schools;
- Strive for full proficiency in English language arts and mathematics;
- Provide instruction in social studies, sciences, literature, art, music, foreign languages, civics, health, and physical education;
- Ensure that schoolchildren have current textbooks, including history books that are inclusive and historically accurate, and science books that fully reflect the strong scientific consensus on issues of science, such as climate change, evolution, and the Big Bang theory;
- Work to ensure that all graduating high school students are climate literate, to include knowing why we have anthropogenic climate change and its potential for harm;
- Advocate school policies that maximize instruction time and minimize chronic absenteeism;
- Work to make sure schools are leveraging the flexibility created by the Local Control Funding Formula by engaging parents, collaborate with their communities, and develop accountability plans that best serve their communities, especially low-income students, English learners, and foster children, in order to close the achievement gap;
- Provide foster youth with the targeted support and services they need to succeed in school and prepare for college and career;
- Ensure that the federal and state governments fully fund special education;
- Ensure every child graduates from high school ready for college or career and civic life by establishing a system of school accountability, including information for all stakeholders, rigorous and achievable expectations for students and educators, support to foster continuous improvement, and interventions when necessary – all with a focus on student success;
- Support learning environments that include robust Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs and encourage partnerships between school districts and local building and construction trades councils through use of project labor agreements/community workforce agreements to create pathways to construction careers;
- Ensure that all students receive quality instruction by updating programs that prepare future teachers and providing new teachers with meaningful and objective feedback, with an eye to lift the state’s most disadvantaged and struggling schools and students;
- Continue to build and sustain proven afterschool and summer programs in order to keep children safe and to close the achievement gap;
- Oppose voucher systems for schools;
- Promote factual age-appropriate sex education in school curriculum in California;
- Ensure all students have access to school counselors and nurses. Increase the capacity of school-based health centers to provide more children with access to physical, mental, vision, and dental health services. Take a comprehensive approach to childhood obesity by ensuring children have adequate time to exercise and offering nutrition education in schools;
- Support access to healthy food choices in and out of school that address food insecurity, such as food pantries, food bank partnerships, cooking classes, and healthy food choices that do not increase the risk of diabetes and obesity. Expand the CalFresh program for students;
- Ensure that educators and classified staff receive wages commensurate with their expertise and responsibility, have opportunities for professional growth, and have the right to organize and be represented by a union of their choice;
- Ensure that “adjunct faculty” at our colleges and universities who do the same work as full-time faculty and meet the same professional standards are paid a comparable wage;
- Encourage community colleges and other colleges and universities to use full-time faculty as practicable and to provide office-hour faculty support to ensure student access to all courses and to increase on-time graduation rates;
- Support Adult Education and Community College programs for life-long learning;
- Advocate for the ability to refinance of current student loans and to treat those loans as any other loans subject to bankruptcy; and,
- Oppose tax bill provisions that would eliminate the exemption of tuition waivers from taxable income or that would repeal the student loan interest deduction or the Lifetime Learning Credit. These would dissuade graduate students from entering critical STEM fields, thereby shutting the door on new opportunity for discovery, exploration and innovation.
Those with the power to legislate, authorize or oversee charter schools must enforce policies that ensure the following: Charter schools should all be non-profit, democratically and transparently governed, offer consistently high-quality education and should not harm neighborhood public schools by siphoning public funds for privately operated schools. They should be subject to the same health, labor, safety, transparency and accountability standards as traditional public schools. They should offer reduced priced meals to low income students like neighborhood public schools, and should not push out special education students or English learners onto traditional neighborhood schools.
Charter schools should institute clear due process procedures for suspensions and expulsions, and should not unjustifiably expel challenging students that public schools then have a duty to educate; they should be held to similar standards as traditional public schools in this policy area. They should not add to the segregation of the highest performing students from the lowest performing students by cherry-picking enrollment. They should embrace their initial mission to partner with traditional public schools to share innovative strategies.
Charters school educators should be subject to the same credentialing requirements and qualification standards as those at neighborhood public schools. Local school district boards should have total authority to determine what public schools, including charter schools, will operate within their school district. Charter schools should be subject to the most rigorous oversight of public funds so that no tax dollars are used for personal gain and no public school property is transferred to private ownership.
Because a college-educated workforce is vital to California’s future, we must return to tuition-free public college and university for all Californians funded by progressive taxation. To restore top-quality education and ensure a place for all qualified in-state students, we must prioritize higher education dramatically to correct years of underfunding, which for UC and CSU exceeds $1 billion each.
Expenses such as housing, food, and books force students to split time between work and studying, take on debt to survive, and lead to extra years in college. Very low-income students must have financial aid that covers the full cost of attendance to eliminate homelessness and food scarcity issues on campuses. Financial aid programs, including the Cal Grant and Pell Grant, must be funded to help cover these costs and make sure no student is overburdened by debt to earn a higher education. The Cal Grants program should be expanded within the community college system.