We Need A New Deal For California Public Education
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We have been parents at LAUSD for the past two years. Before this, we were parents at SFUSD. Same state, same fight.
California is a proud state. Proud of its innovation. Proud of its progressive agenda. Proud of its diversity. Proud of its engagement on climate change but where is California's pride in Education?
At a time when the current president of the United States is ready to declare a state of emergency to gain political credit, we parents are ready to declare a crisis on education and therefore declare a state of emergency to make public education great again.
California is the largest state regarding the number of students. However, California ranks 44 (!!!) in the U.S regarding Pre-K -12 education based on US news report. How can California be proud of this appalling number when California ranks as the world's fifth largest economy, ahead of the United Kingdom but behind Germany.
We can discuss all we want about fundings, rainy day fund, and other financial matters. The bottom line is that California should pride itself on being the best public education system in the world and leading the way in the U.S in the same way it leads the way in technology and startup development. This is an ambitious goal and turning around the state of public education can not be achieved without a New Deal for education that requires a massive financial investment.
Today, teachers in LAUSD are getting ready to strike. This strike is not only the teachers’ strike, it is also our strike too. As parents, we are growing more and more tired of witnessing the dismantling of public education.
Los Angeles has to become a role model for public education. It is about time that the city and the state declare public education a PRIORITY. It can only happen with investment in teachers, school staffs and facilities. We are aware that LAUSD does not have the power to achieve this goal by itself. It is a statewide initiative. However, the role of LAUSD as the second largest school district in the US is to lead the way and bring innovative financial sustainable solutions to create the best public education system in Los Angeles. This bold goal requires the creative collaboration of all the stakeholders including UTLA and the parents' community. We should all join forces to make education the number one priority in the state, engage in the reforms we need to get there together and stop fighting each other.
We, as parents, expect the highest of public education for our kids and future generation. That is the reason why we want to share with our elected members that we support the demands of the LAUSD teachers and their strike. It will be the first time in 30 years, that the teachers go on strike. We view the strike as the increasing needs for teachers to have their voices heard but also as a calling from every parent to save our public education system. We are talking about the future of our country. Our kids are the future of this country, and they deserve a world-class educational system to face all the challenges ahead of them.
To rebuild our public education system, we see as an absolute priority to provide a decent salary to teachers where they can continue their work and have the financial conditions they need to thrive. Providing a good salary is the first step to acknowledge the value of our teachers in our society.
We also expect from a good education system:
- To not provide a constant counterproductive flow of score testing but instead provide kids with the environment they need to love learning and going to school. Testing creates stress and anxiety and competition. It also takes away time from teachers to do their work of teaching. Other countries have proven that kids do not need testing and homework to excel in school.
- To encourage kids to become good community members and citizens by being challenged and engaged intellectually based on their respective needs including disabilities, ESL... We believe this can happen with project-based learning, more art classes, and specialists not with over testing.
- To provide diverse and inclusive classrooms that reflect the community we live in.
- To provide daily P.E
- To provide language learning classes starting in 1st grade.
- To provide small class size and not an overcrowded classroom. We support smaller size classes (20) and an assistant teacher for each class.
- To give access to nurses and therapists for kids who need it.
- To cease asking young children to “pledge allegiance” when they have no basis for understanding what that means and instead provide more progressive choices of patriotic activities like learning about public service opportunities. “
- To provide quality food for its students. We want to see local and organic food served in the cafeteria.
- To become leaders in the zero waste movement and remove plastic utensils and other plastic containers from the cafeteria.
- To provide LEAD-free water in the school.
- To have facilities with a focus on sustainable architecture, energy-efficiency, and green spaces.
- To have a diverse school board that represents the community.
- To work in the community’s best interests.
We hope an agreement will be reached to prevent the strike and provide a significant increase to the teachers' salary crisis as a first step. We also expect policymakers to come up with long-term solutions for financing education despite economic turbulence. We are all aware of the issues, what we need is well-thought-out solutions. We as parents and proud Californian are striving for a world-class innovative free education. The time has come to innovate and bring solutions to the table to resolve this state-wide crisis and we are ready to help.
Former SFUSD parent
Former Board Member, Creative Arts Charter School
Founder, Be Your Change
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