ARIC CRABB/SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS-BAY AREA NEWS GROUP VIA AP
The leading candidates for governor of California at a debate in San Jose.

Education will be one of the most critical issues for California’s next governor to address. And the candidates who want to lead the state have ambitious plans for its education systems that could affect Californians from their time in the womb through college and into the workplace.

EdSource sent a detailed questionnaire to the six leading candidates for governor to find out where they stand on some of the most pressing education topics in the state. The questions dive deep into early childhood, K-12 and higher education, touching on college affordability, the future of charter schools, California’s teacher shortage and more.

The race’s four leading Democratic candidates — Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, State Treasurer John Chaing and former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin — answered the questions.

Campaigns for the two Republicans running for governor, businessman John Cox and Orange County Assemblyman Travis Allen, R-Huntington Beach, did not respond to EdSource’s questions. You can learn more about their positions on education here.

Click the candidate photo below to see how they responded.

Gavin Newsom

Lieutenant Governor

Is there anything from your personal education experience that will shape your education policies?

School did not always come easy for me, but thanks to the perseverance of my mother, and the dedication of my teachers, they finally named the problem — dyslexia. My dyslexia led me on a unique educational journey, one of self-pace and self-discovery. It’s what I needed to help me learn and it’s shaped my thinking today: I believe that every student in California deserves the same opportunity to achieve success.

I bounced between five public and private elementary and middle schools. I attended Redwood High School (a public high school) and Santa Clara University, graduating in 1989 with a B.A. in political science.

Do you have a signature education program — for K-12 or higher education — that you want to see put in place?

If we are serious about closing the achievement gap and income gap, we must get serious about closing the opportunity gap. That begins with education. As governor, I’m calling for the “California Promise,” a new way of thinking about education as a lifelong pursuit. 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.

I will realize this vision by expanding prenatal care, expanding affordable, high-quality child care, adopting universal pre-K, launching college savings accounts for every incoming kindergartener across the state, investing in K-12 community schools, increasing incentives to attract and retain high-quality teachers, launching a new higher education coordinating council to set bold statewide goals and holding institutions accountable to them, guaranteeing two years of free community college tuition and connecting our early childhood, K-12 and higher education data systems to improve student outcomes. Each of these initiatives represents my commitment to reinvesting in our cradle-to-career public education system.

Early education

What is your position on making state-subsidized preschool or transitional kindergarten available to all 4-year-olds?

As mayor of San Francisco, we implemented Preschool for All, and as governor, I’m committed to universal preschool, equipping all of California’s children with the tools to succeed when they start kindergarten.

If you support expanding it, how would you fund it?

This will be a major priority for me as governor, and I am committed to identifying the resources to ensure a robust early education system. In fact, I was very intentional as the chief proponent of Proposition 64 in 2016 that we set aside significant funds for early childhood education. Moreover, we need to incentivize and encourage cities, counties and regions to make early learning a priority and implement set-asides for early childhood and children’s services, modeled after the Children’s Fund we established in San Francisco.

Do you support efforts to expand the state’s role in providing child care and other services to children in the 0-to-3 age group and their families? If so, what kinds of programs and services would you promote?

While I’m a firm believer in universal preschool, I believe that beginning learning at 3 years old is already too late. We need to double-down on the readiness gap by emphasizing prenatal care and the first three years of a child’s life when nearly 85 percent of brain development occurs.

To create a strong foundation of educational success, I believe 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 child care. Furthermore, 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.

School finance

The Local Control Funding Formula was Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature school funding program. Do you support its continuation? Are there any changes or fixes that you want to make to it?

I applaud Gov. Brown for his leadership in emphasizing equity in our allocation of education resources. The Local Control Funding Formula made high-needs students a priority in policy, but the hard work of implementation to truly serve students’ diverse needs is still a struggle with limited resources. Adequate funding for our schools through Proposition 98 and successful implementation of LCFF’s accountability system are key next steps for our public education system. I will ensure that there is increased transparency and that the dollars are being spent on the students and districts they are intended to serve.

Should local districts be given the power to reject charter schools if they determine that the charter has or will make an adverse financial impact on the district?

I am a longtime supporter of nonprofit public charter schools as centers of education innovation, but believe, as taxpayer-funded institutions, they should meet basic standards of transparency and accountability. We do not want to empower local districts to use fiscal impact arguments as a way of otherwise blocking valid charter applications but in a difficult budgeting environment, ignoring significant fiscal impacts would not be prudent. I believe financial impact should therefore be a consideration, not a deciding factor.

Education groups such as the California School Boards Association and the California State PTA want the Legislature to set a goal of raising base funding in the Local Control Funding Formula by 60 percent, from about $8,000 to about $12,800 per student, which would make total K-12 funding in California well above $12,156, the most recent national average. Do you agree?

Yes.

What forms of additional revenue would you favor to achieve this goal?

If California wants to keep our mantle as the fifth-largest economy in the world, we need to reinvest in our economic engine — our cradle to career public education system. I will protect the integrity of Proposition 98 while ensuring that it is a floor, not a ceiling, and make new investment in our early childhood through public higher education systems a priority. As outlined earlier, I also believe Governor Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula and Local Control Accountability Plans must be continued, so we can ensure that funding is focused on students who need it most. Moreover, we need to empower local communities to control their own destiny and seek additional sources of revenue for public education. At the same time, I will seek to ensure that communities without the ability to pass these increases will not be shortchanged.

Teacher shortage

What would be the single most effective way to address the teacher shortage affecting many school districts in California?

Unlike U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, we will attract teachers, not attack teachers. Our state faces an acute teacher shortage, particularly in early education, special education, bilingual education and STEM. A full 75 percent of California’s school districts reported experiencing a teacher shortage last year. While this is a widespread problem, I understand 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, I understand we must keep quality teachers in the classroom.

Educators deserve support for their own learning. I will invest in high-quality preparation for both teachers and principals, service scholarships to underwrite preparation for those who will become teachers in high-need fields, mentoring for all beginning teachers, and useful professional development — not the drive-by workshops or “spray and pray” approaches that most teachers have learned to dread. My plans provide incentives for schools to set aside time during the day for teachers to collaborate.

My investments in teacher professional development and recognition — through vehicles like National Board Certification and the Instructional Leadership Corps, for example — will help the state develop a cadre of expert mentor teachers. Ensuring that teachers are involved in developing local school plans for improvement, building on their expertise and knowledge of what works, will move California schools and student learning forward.

Higher education

Will your first budget include any extra funding for the University of California and California State University systems to avoid further tuition hikes?

My first budget will include a significant increase in funding for the UC and CSU systems to avoid further tuition hikes. It has been nothing less than devastating to watch the state’s disinvestment from public higher education, and with it, stripping a generation of Californians of an opportunity those before them enjoyed. State support was slashed by one-third after the Great Recession. We’re just now achieving pre-recession funding levels but we’re also educating thousands more students. We must do better.

As lieutenant governor since 2011, I have had the unique privilege of serving as a University of California regent and California State University trustee, and am proud to have voted against every tuition hike over the past seven years. This year, I urged the UC and CSU systems to postpone yet another vote on tuition until the Legislature and governor had time to reach a budget agreement — I was pleased to see they took that step. Particularly at a time when California has achieved a $6.1 billion budget surplus, the state must invest significantly more in higher education, not place the burden on the backs of students and their families.

What will your administration do to promote college affordability for all Californians?

I have voted against every tuition increase, fought to solve the student debt crisis, and helped lead the charge for Promise Programs across the state, beginning with the San Francisco Promise we launched when I was mayor. I understand that once the total cost of attendance and all available financial aid is taken into account, it’s more expensive for a financially needy student to attend a community college than a UC or CSU campus. Non-tuition expenses like books, transportation and housing can make up 90 percent of the total cost of attendance. That’s why I advocated for legislation to expand the Cal Grant B Access Awards, supporting community college students with these costs.

As governor, I will ensure high schools do all they can to make students aware of their financial aid options. I’ll ground all conversations about tuition and financial aid in the full cost of attendance to reflect the actual cost of postsecondary education. We’ll boost financial aid by increasing the amount of competitive Cal Grant awards and expanding award amounts, and we’ll offer two years of free community college tuition. I’m also alarmed by the staggering number of college students who confront food and housing insecurity. We’ll provide the resources necessary to address these crises. Moreover, 75 percent of serious brain illness manifests before age 25, meaning our college-aged youth are at particular risk. We’ll work to ensure every college adopts comprehensive strategies for raising awareness of symptoms of mental illness, identifying students at risk, and providing support services.

Do you support Brown’s proposal to link some community college funding to student performance? Do you support applying the same notion of linking funding to student performance to the UC and CSU systems?

I support the intent of Gov. Brown’s community college student success proposal, while also paying close attention to the suggestions being offered by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office and various campuses. I do believe that the governor should be able to leverage state investments to incentivize the continued improvement of all our educational institutions. Research shows that linking funding to student performance and graduation rates as a piece of the overall higher education budget can be a powerful force in achieving our shared goals.

What is your position on Brown’s proposal to establish an online community college to serve so-called “stranded workers” — older workers who lack the skills to advance in the workplace?

We are living in a hinge moment — with globalization and technology detonating at the same time, displacing workers and entire industries. It’s not an easy subject to talk about, but we need to have a serious conversation about the future of work. If we don’t prepare ourselves, our rising levels of wealth and opportunity inequality will only widen. There is no silver bullet that will wholly solve the displacement from future technology, but implementing the right solutions can help ease the transition and protect the workers most vulnerable and susceptible to automation.

While I support the spirit of Governor Brown’s proposal, I do share some of the concerns raised by faculty and students and look forward to continuing conversations about innovative ways to increase access to education and career opportunities. As governor, I will provide individual skills accounts for Californians looking for work so they can always refresh their skills, no matter what stage of life. In today’s rapidly changing economy, our workforce must be able to adapt to new needs and advancements. These accounts, established with the backing of business, labor and government, will allow Californians to tap into the vast resources of our community college system to help get folks back on their feet.

Antonio Villaraigosa

Former mayor of Los Angeles

Is there anything from your personal education experience that will shape your education policies?

I know the life-changing effect an education can have on a young person because I was that kid — the dropout. But I was fortunate that I had a mother who believed in me and a teacher, Herman Katz, who pushed me. And a state that gave me a second shot. There are some who will throw up their hands and say “those kids” won’t succeed. But I’m living proof that when you give people a chance and the right support, they can and will succeed. I have always been committed to making sure all kids have access to a quality education. When I was in the Assembly, I negotiated a $9.2 billion school construction bond.

I received an excellent foundation in Catholic school and attended Cathedral High School but dropped out in high school, in part because of health issues. I was expelled for anger issues for reasons having do with my childhood experience with domestic abuse. I then attended Roosevelt High School. Public school gave me a second chance, especially with the interest and support of my teacher, Herman Katz. I went to East Los Angeles Community College. I ultimately transferred to and graduated from UCLA, with a B.A. in history in 1977. I then went to People’s College of Law, a private institution.

Do you have a signature education program — for K-12 or higher education — that you want to see put in place?

My record makes clear my belief that education is the key to success and helping every child reach his or her potential. Whether it was negotiating a $9.2 billion bond for school improvement and construction or my willingness to take on the status quo because it was unacceptable to have so many schools failing our children. I believe we need to improve K-12 to make sure every child regardless of ZIP code has access to a quality education. As mayor of Los Angeles, I took on our failing schools and by the time I left, our high school graduation rate had gone from 44 percent to 72 percent, working with the Partnership for L.A. Schools and supporting high-quality public charter schools.

But the future requires us to make sure we increase access and affordability for post-secondary education. I am proposing to create the California Dream Corps — one year of service to our state and communities in exchange for one year of college, not just tuition but also room and board, for up to two years. This program is a way to make college more affordable while providing needed community building services. Bringing together people from diverse backgrounds, while serving our communities, will help us learn from each other and realize that we are all in this together — only together can we achieve the California Dream.

Early education

What is your position on making state-subsidized preschool or transitional kindergarten available to all 4-year-olds?

I firmly believe in pre-kindergarten for all our children. The first few years of life are critical for brain development. I remember watching my own kids at that age, and you could almost see how they were learning moment-to-moment. When we don’t provide children with the enrichment programs and environments where they can learn, they fall behind — and often never catch up. Studies have shown that pre-K and kindergarten education leads to higher test scores and a reduced chance of being held back a grade. Further, it can lead to fewer children with special education placements, which means investment in early education can reduce costs later down the line. There’s no child who can’t learn, but there are many children who do not have good enough opportunities to learn when they need it most — in the first years of their lives. I fully support universal pre-kindergarten and will push for it as your governor.

This is why as governor, I would start by developing a Master Plan for Early Education, to put us on the pathway to two major goals: universal access to preschool and full-day kindergarten. And to avoid duplication and make sure tax dollars are being used wisely across agencies and programs, I would appoint a cabinet-level Early Child Care and Education Coordinator.

If you support expanding it, how would you fund it?

As a former (Assembly) speaker and mayor, I know there is no progress without resources and know how to make tough calls to make sure we advance the goals we set for ourselves. How much more money is needed and how to pay for it to achieve our goals should be determined after we’ve done everything to make sure our current resources are being used effectively. My track record as both a progressive and fiscally responsible makes clear that we can make progress without overspending our budgets.

Do you support efforts to expand the state’s role in providing child care and other services to children in the 0 to 3 age group and their families?

If we’re going to get serious about closing the achievement gap, we have to start at the beginning. By the time poor kids are 5 years old, they will have heard 30 million fewer words than their wealthy peers. And because the word gap first appears during periods of critical neurological and cognitive development, its effects need to be addressed sooner rather than later. We need to:

• Increase the availability of high-quality, full-day early child care and education;
• Implement a more unified early childhood education system, including better accountability and data systems;
• Utilize more effectively and efficiently existing funding streams such as First Five, federal child care subsidies, state and local funding;
• Provide sustainable funding for these priorities.

If so, what kinds of programs and services would you promote?

As the Learning Policy Institute reports on Early Care and Education have shown, there are numerous delivery systems and various federal, state and county/local funding streams. It is high time to take a good hard look at how these systems can be better coordinated to improve effectiveness and efficiency. That is why I believe we need to start by developing a Master Plan for Early Education, to put us on the road to making sure a child’s ZIP code does not determine or limit the opportunity for each and every child to realize their potential. I would appoint a cabinet-level Early Child Care and Education Coordinator because right now there is a tangled web of various programs and funding streams. The research is out there in terms of, for example, the impact of early childhood trauma and interventions that can spur resiliency. There are some counties right now where government agencies and nonprofits are putting aside turf battles and are focused instead on what’s best for young children, and making sure best practices are implemented more widely. Our future depends on investing in every child.

School finance

The Local Control Funding Formula was Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature school funding program. Do you support its continuation?

Yes.

Are there any changes or fixes that you want to make to it?

The LCFF was a good start to both increase funding for our neediest schools but also to reallocate those funds where most needed. Let’s be clear, however, that not all these added resources have actually been directed to the neediest students. Not all school districts undertook the process of developing their Local Control Action Plan with the same level of commitment to community and parent engagement, and not all of the LCAPs were designed to address the target populations. Some school districts used the LCFF funds to restore teacher pay or address other budget shortfalls — we have to do better. I would work with all key stakeholders to improve the LCFF to make sure we are allocating our resources to ensure every child has the opportunity for a quality education in the most effective ways possible.

Improving schools starts with transparency around performance so states and districts can help low-performing schools get better. Without the data, you can’t make the case for change. To accomplish our shared goal of improving schools, the state must make sure the Local Control Funding Formula resources get to the kids who need them most. It’s about educational justice. We need to streamline our systems of accountability. We must also support teachers in transforming their instructional practices by providing continuing professional development and supports, and (ensure) that students are taught using rigorous, high-quality instructional materials.

Should local districts be given the power to reject charter schools if they determine that the charter has or will make an adverse financial impact on the district?

It is unfortunate that the debate over improving our public schools too often devolves into a battle over charter schools. That is a false choice. I support high-quality public schools and high-quality public charters. I think it’s important to support those public institutions which are innovating and successfully educating our children. High-quality charter schools are laboratories for innovation and increasing quality; strategies that need to be brought to all of our schools.

I don’t support for-profit charter schools. Additionally, we need to hold charter schools to the highest standards and not be afraid to revoke charters if those schools are failing. Our goal is to lift up every kid and every school — whether a traditional public school or a public charter. And we need to do a better job of getting those two parts of our public education system to learn from each other. Charters are not the only answer, but they are one part of the answer when it comes to improving our schools. Creating economic opportunity for the millions of Californians left behind in this economy requires greatly improving access to high-quality public schools

Education groups such as the California School Boards Association and the California State PTA want the Legislature to set a goal of raising base funding in the Local Control Funding Formula by 60 percent, from about $8,000 to about $12,800 per student, which would make total K-12 funding in California well above $12,156, the most recent national average. Do you agree?

No.

What forms of additional revenue would you favor to achieve this goal?

We need to remember the fundamental equation that is actually part of the California Constitution. Our state dedicates 40 percent of state revenue to K-14 (kindergarten through community college) education. So, if we want to grow funding for education, the best way is to grow the California economy.

A stronger economy means more tax revenue, which means more funds for schools. There is a reason why I am so focused on better schools as part of our work to increase economic opportunity for more Californians. There is a positive feedback loop — better schools create a stronger economy; a stronger economy creates more tax revenue to fund our schools and build our infrastructure.

While I think more money is important in a state that lags far behind the national average in per-pupil spending, we have to show we can do more with the money we’ve got to make a persuasive case to the public that more money will bring a marked improvement in our schools. When we took on some of the worst-performing schools in Los Angeles in the Partnership for L.A. Schools, it wasn’t just more money that showed results. It was more attention, accountability, partnerships with government, business and schools and listening to what parents and teachers and principals had to say. There is no substitute for holding everyone in this system accountable — starting with elected officials — and making sure we involve everyone who can contribute to the success of our kids.

Teacher shortage

What would be the single most effective way to address the teacher shortage affecting many school districts in California?

There is no single most effective way. We need to take short-term steps while developing long-term strategies. In the immediate future, we need to do the following: 1) Build on federal programs that offered loan forgiveness programs for college expenses including living expenses for students committed to teaching in high-need fields and locations. 2) Facilitate opportunities for retired teachers in high-need fields to come back and/or create incentives to postpone retirement. 3) Deepen teacher preparation programs for those in high-need fields to lay a foundation for long and successful careers.

Higher education

Will your first budget include any extra funding for the University of California and California State University systems to avoid further tuition hikes?

We need to invest to grow our economy and the middle class — that means investing in education from birth to post-secondary education.

It starts with looking at recommendations for the California Student Aid Commission to move away from a system focused on tuition to one that takes into account a student’s full college expenses, by including living expenses and not just tuition.

We also need to consolidate various Cal Grant programs with differing age restrictions, GPA requirements and time out of high school. If we reform, consolidate and expand the California financial aid programs, we can begin to grow our investment in higher education. The state’s contribution needs to increase even as more students need to go to college. Yet, we need more accountability from our three systems focused on outcomes and not just inputs. The full cost of doing all this plus creating a program like the California Dream Corps needs to be analyzed against revenues collected.

I have the fiscal discipline as evidenced by the investments we were able to make in Los Angeles while bringing our city budget in line, including making hard decisions with respect to pension obligations. As governor, I will make the important investments we need for our future while adhering to the fiscal discipline our state needs.

What will your administration do to promote college affordability for all Californians?

To achieve the goal of 60 percent of adults having a post-secondary degree or credential by 2030, we need to focus on affordability and access. We need to find ways to reduce the cost of obtaining that education. A recent report prepared for the California Student Aid Commission identifies specific ways in which the current system of California grants could be reformed and consolidated. It recommends including living expenses and not just tuition in calculating the true cost of a college education and making financial aid awards based on those revised calculations. It also recommends changing certain requirements, including age restrictions.

I propose the creation of the California Dream Corps — building on the success of AmeriCorps and the California Conservation Corps. Students would provide a year of community service to California and we in turn will help students pay for one year of college, and not just tuition.

We need to understand that making college more affordable and increasing access has to be done in fiscally responsible ways. Make no mistake, investment in making college more affordable and accessible will grow our economy, increasing the resources we can devote to training the next generation.

Do you support Brown’s proposal to link some community college funding to student performance?

I believe these first steps in leveraging state investments to improve student outcomes are interesting concepts. Of importance could be increasing the number of college degrees that specifically address projected workforce needs. It is also important to recognize that there is growing awareness that we need not just college degrees (although that needs to be a priority), but we also need certificates which can lead to either careers or the ability to transfer to a four-year institution. Under those circumstances, requiring a performance-based incentive appears to make sense.

Outcome- or performance-based funding has come under fire in a number of states. The concern is that it will lead to the type of manipulation that accompanied tying teacher pay to student performance as measured by standardized testing as in No Child Left Behind. Inequities in the system may very well be exacerbated by these types of funding incentives. Colleges with large number of Latino and African-American students may find themselves with less funding over time, which in turn would mean less funding for institutions serving primarily underrepresented groups. We need to experiment but also beware of unintended consequences.

Do you support applying the same notion of linking funding to student performance to the UC and CSU systems?

In order to answer that question we need to look at the lack of coordination of our three systems. Without coordination, it might be difficult to focus on student performance. For too long our three systems of higher education have operated independently of each other and without regard to the needs of all Californians. We all need to understand now that there has to be better coordination among the three systems, especially as we look to develop a New Blueprint for Higher Education. Steps have been taken such as the Community Colleges and CSU stretching to improve graduation rates. The state has also directed UC and CSU to focus on workforce skills based on anticipated needs, requiring a more intentional approach to education. This also requires the systems and individual campuses to work with business and the private sector.

The absence of a statewide higher education coordinating mechanism makes it difficult to achieve the above goals. We had California Post-Secondary Education Commission once but it was purely advisory to the Legislature, creating unnecessary red tape. As its purpose and authority were unclear, especially given UC’s constitutional independence, it was defunded. The need continues. For example, where there is little central governance of community colleges as they are governed by elected district boards, the system-wide chancellor’s power comes mostly from exhortation and occasionally resources that can act as carrots to spur innovation and accountability. As for the CSU system, the chancellor has a bit more power but probably not enough especially when so many key actors, including some faculty, are fond of the status quo.

The time has come to look carefully at proposals to create a coordinating body but it needs authority and capacity. It will only succeed if all stakeholders are at the table committed to a New Blueprint for Higher Education in California. With a shared goal, we can all work to find ways to achieve access, affordability, quality and accountability.

What is your position on Brown’s proposal to establish an online community college to serve so-called “stranded workers” — older workers who lack the skills to advance in the workplace?

I support the concept for the following reasons:

• Lifelong learning needs to be more than a slogan. Utilizing technology to facilitate access for all, including proactive recruitment so that individuals choose to obtain necessary training;

• Utilize technology to benefit workers. We need to leverage the benefits that come from emerging and advanced technologies but do so in ways that put the goal of growing the middle class as the priority, so that policy development is about saying yes to advancements without saying no to workers;

• Leverage data for the benefit of workers. We need to increase transparency and accessibility so that all can benefit from data analytics. For example, the California Community College System has established seven Centers of Excellence, which work to provide region-specific data on occupations and skills requirements for the benefit of educators, employers and job-seekers.

John Chiang

State Treasurer

Is there anything from your personal education experience that will shape your education policies?

My parents arrived in this country in the 1950s, like all immigrant Americans, dreaming of a better future. My dad came here with just three shirts, two pairs of pants, and barely any money in his pocket. My parents’ relentlessness and determination led to a middle-class neighborhood with better schools, and a college education for my three siblings and me. Today, I’m running for governor because of the opportunities the education I received afforded me. Nowhere else in the world is a story like mine possible. Public education is vitally important because it gives so many families, like mine, the opportunity to achieve the American Dream.

I grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago and attended public schools. I attended Palos East Elementary School, Palos South Middle School, and Carl Sandburg High School. I received my B.A. in Finance from the University of South Florida, a public school. I then went on to receive my Juris Doctor (J.D.) from Georgetown University, a private institution.

Do you have a signature education program — for K-12 or higher education — that you want to see put in place?

The California Dream was built upon the solid foundation of quality, universal public education. People moved to California for the outstanding public schools. The comprehensive system of affordable two- and four-year colleges and universities were the envy of the entire world. Investment in education paid off big returns for the state, fueling a burgeoning economy and a rising standard of living. Unfortunately, our pre-K, K-12 and higher education programs have been squeezed, leaving students behind and educators struggling to make up for these inadequacies.

I have released a Roadmap for Education, focused on early childhood and K-12 education, as well as a Roadmap for Affordable and Accessible Higher Education. I plan to restore academic success by increasing per-pupil funding, reducing class sizes, and moving towards providing free tuition for two years of community college. I’m also calling for a more than 40 percent reduction in CSU and UC tuition and fees to make higher education more accessible for California families. We also need to address underlying factors that have put stress on our education system — an unfair economy that has left the middle class behind; the inability of students and families to afford textbooks, supplies, food and housing; threats in Washington to public education, affordable health care, financial aid, and more. We need to do everything possible to look holistically at ways to improve our education system so every student has an opportunity to achieve their dreams.

Early education

What is your position on making state-subsidized preschool or transitional kindergarten available to all 4-year-olds?

For decades, research has confirmed that quality early childhood education programs not only make children more successful in school, but pay enormous dividends over time, including higher graduation rates, employment rates, wages, and tax revenues; lower welfare costs, health care costs, and crime rates. I fully support universal pre-kindergarten and transitional kindergarten programs for all California students and will fight to expand early childhood education as governor.

If you support expanding it, how would you fund it?

As the only candidate, and in fact person, to ever hold the state’s three elected financial offices, I not only have two decades of experience acting with honesty and integrity, but I bring expertise and a track record of getting the job done. As state controller, I identified $9.5 billion in waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars, money we could have put to good use investing in early childhood education. Both Antonio Villaraigosa and Gavin Newsom left their cities in structural debt when they left office as mayor. Both proved they couldn’t manage the budget or find creative ways to pay for the policy priorities we care about. As the candidate who brought California’s economy out of the recession, I am the only candidate with a progressive vision who can also balance a budget — and I’m committed to expanding early childhood education.

Do you support efforts to expand the state’s role in providing child care and other services to children in the 0 to 3 age group, and their families?

Yes, California faces a critical shortage of affordable, high-quality child care. More than 1 million families currently qualify for subsidized child care, yet the state only serves 28 percent of those in need. For these families, child care is an absolute necessity in order to provide for their families. Child care and early childhood education are economic justice issues, and as governor I will work to address these critical issues.

If so, what kinds of programs and services would you promote?

When we’re looking at education, we must look from cradle to college, not just K-12. We must work together to build a high quality, affordable child care system that addresses the needs of working families while ensuring our children have the solid foundations they need to succeed in kindergarten. We must also increase both the quantity and quality of California’s early childhood education programs and ensure free access for all working families.

School finance

The Local Control Funding Formula was Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature school funding program. Do you support its continuation?

Yes, I support continuing the Local Control Funding Formula, which gives additional funding to districts based on their numbers of high-needs students — English learners, low-income children and foster youth.

Are there any changes or fixes that you want to make to it?

I understand there are concerns that some school districts have used additional funding for high-needs students for expenses not directly related to providing additional services for those students.

We need to increase funding for schools so we’re providing the resources we want our kids to have: the best teachers possible, low teacher/student ratios, school nurses, arts and music, and more. That way we aren’t redirecting money that our students deserve. While Proposition 98 is a constitutional floor for education funding in our state, it has become a political ceiling. Proposition 30, and its extension, has helped some, yet California still lags far behind the national average in per-pupil expenditures. We simply must invest more in education.

We also need to ensure that school districts build into their Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAPs) standards to ensure funding is being used for its intended purposes, and we need to increase transparency to ensure they are held accountable for using their funding properly.

Should local districts be given the power to reject charter schools if they determine that the charter has or will make an adverse financial impact on the district?

Local school boards should have the power to make educational decisions for their districts.

Whether we like it or not, charter schools are here to stay. The best charters provide a laboratory for experimentation and allow students and parents to explore varied educational options not provided in the mainstream public schools. Some charters do an outstanding job of preparing students for college — just as traditional schools and magnets do.

However, charter schools are public schools. They need to be transparent and held accountable in the same way that traditional schools are. Charter schools should be subject to the Brown Act and state conflict of interest standards. Charter schools must be operated in the interest of the students of the district as a whole; we must avoid creating a two-tiered educational system where all of the most motivated and ambitious families abandon traditional schools. Charter schools should remain neutral and not oppose efforts by their employees to form or join a union if they so choose.

At the same time, school districts must recognize the innovative education opportunities charters provide and work to offer the same types of programs and alternatives.

Education groups such as the California School Boards Association and the California State PTA want the Legislature to set a goal of raising base funding in the Local Control Funding Formula by 60 percent, from about $8,000 to about $12,800 per student, which would make total K-12 funding in California well above $12,156, the most recent national average. Do you agree?

Yes. In 1988, California voters approved Proposition 98, which requires a minimum percentage of the state budget to be spent on K-12 education. Unfortunately, while Proposition 98 was meant to create a constitutional “floor” for education spending, it has turned into a political ceiling. As a result, California is grossly under-invested in public education. Proposition 30, and its extension, has helped some, yet California still lags far behind the national average in per-pupil expenditures. We simply must invest more in education.

What forms of additional revenue would you favor to achieve this goal?

Our budget should reflect California’s values and priorities. Education is a moral and economic responsibility that must be properly funded in our budget. To stabilize and grow funding for the things we value, we need to look at both revenue and expenditure solutions.

As the only person to have ever held all three of our state’s financial offices, I have the experience necessary and fortitude to tackle this critically important issue. To address the issue of revenue, I pledge to lead a major overhaul of our tax system in my first term as governor. The last time California overhauled its tax system was 1935, when California was still an agrarian economy.

We also have to look at our state’s expenditures. Throughout my career, I’ve demonstrated my ability to find creative solutions to problems facing California without reaching into the pockets of taxpayers or forcing California’s public servants to foot the bill. We need to make sure we’re spending our taxpayer dollars wisely so we can get the biggest bang for our buck and fund the essential services that California needs. As state controller, I identified $9.5 billion in waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars, money we could have put to good use investing in education. I teamed up with Gov. Brown to find an innovative way to reduce the state’s $59 billion unfunded pension liability by up to $11 billion to $12 billion without cutting benefits or forcing state employees to pay more. And just like everyday Californians refinancing their mortgages to save money, I also saved the state of California and its agencies more than $6 billion over the life of our bonds by refinancing older, more costly debt.

Financing education is a matter of priorities. I’ve proven that I can find smart, resourceful ways to address our fiscal challenges. I’m the only candidate you can trust with a progressive vision who can make the budget work. I’ll find the revenue to fund our shared values and priorities.

Teacher shortage

What would be the single most effective way to address the teacher shortage affecting many school districts in California?

In the last decade, California has experienced an unprecedented 75 percent decline in enrollment in teacher preparation programs. Districts are facing alarming rates of teacher shortages. We must expand our efforts to address growing teacher shortages — especially in the areas of STEM, special education, and ESL — by offering student loan forgiveness, helping classified employees earn their bachelor and teaching degrees, recruiting students out of high school to pursue teaching careers, and offering proven residency and mentoring programs that both improve teaching performance and dramatically increase retention rates.

Higher education

Will your first budget include any extra funding for the University of California and California State University systems to avoid further tuition hikes?

Yes. I oppose tuition and fee increases for California residents attending college in the UC and CSU systems. In March, I attended the UC Board of Regents meeting, where I asked the board to suspend any consideration of tuition or fee increases until 2019. As the only person to have held all of our state’s three elected financial offices, I understand, better than most, that our higher education systems balance sheets to fulfill and that the state has cut per pupil funding for years. But I also understand that the rate at which tuition and fees have increased at the UC and CSU systems is unsustainable and a disservice to our students. As California’s next governor, I am committed to finding a permanent solution to not only stop further fee increases, but to actually reverse tuition and fee costs and make higher education more accessible and affordable for California’s students.

What will your administration do to promote college affordability for all Californians?

When California originally adopted its Master Plan for Higher Education in 1960, it expressed the intent that higher education “remain accessible, affordable, high-quality and accountable” (Legislative Analyst’s Office, 2004). In recent decades, however, the State of California has throttled down its investment in higher education. Higher education’s falling share of the state budget has meant increased costs for students and their families, larger class sizes, and an ongoing challenge to community colleges, CSUs, and UCs to maintain the quality of instruction that has made California a model for the rest of the world.

We must make higher education more affordable, more accessible, and more accountable, so all of our students have the opportunity to reach their potential. I recently put forward my Roadmap for Affordable and Accessible Higher Education, which lays out my plans to make college more affordable for all Californians. It starts with giving every student two years of free community college. Over the course of the next 10 years, I am also committed to reducing tuition and student fees for our UC and CSU systems to their pre-2009 fee hike levels — a reduction by more than 40 percent.

We also need to address underlying factors that have put stress on our education system — an unfair economy that has left the middle class behind; the inability of students and families to afford textbooks, supplies, food, and housing; threats to public education funding from Washington, DC; affordable health care; financial aid, and so much more. As California’s controller and treasurer, I’ve stood up and fought for California’s students and working families. I am now the only candidate you can trust to act with honesty and integrity, and who will stand up to Donald Trump’s war on public education.

As governor, I will significantly increase the state’s investment in higher education, and I will vigorously pursue a dedicated or otherwise reliable source of funding for higher education. We can’t continue to subject higher education to the whims of our budget negotiation process. I believe the state budget should reflect our values and priorities, and that means we must restore our promise to our colleges and universities.

I recently signed on in support of Senator Schatz’s Debt-Free College Act, which would provide states incentives through matching grants to increase investments in public higher education and provide students with debt-free college. We shouldn’t leave any federal money on the table when we’re making investments in higher education.

But revenue is only one side of the equation. We also need to be using that money wisely. We need to establish further efficiencies in the ways the CSU and UC systems spend their resources. As state treasurer and previously as state controller, I understand the importance of auditing. We must demand real accountability from the CSU Board of Trustees and the UC Board of Regents, in exchange for our investments to ensure that their plans have the students’ best interests at heart.

Finally, we must ensure we’re doing everything possible to maximize revenue at our UC system without sacrificing educational quality. We should consider additional entrepreneurial ventures to maximize revenue opportunities, including capitalizing on the UC system’s status as the top university system across the country that is granted patents in the United States.

Do you support Brown’s proposal to link some community college funding to student performance?

I believe California should leverage the state’s investments to incentivize improvements for college completion rates. As an ex-officio member of the CalPERS board, I’ve used this strategy to demand companies respect California’s values, whether it was encouraging diversity on our corporate boards, holding Wells Fargo accountable for ripping off vulnerable Americans, or demanding institutional investors to divest from retail sellers of military-style assault weapons. I also have a strong record of demanding better results from our investments. For example, I restructured two critical housing programs in the Treasurer’s office to use our federal infrastructure funding more effectively and increase the development of housing funded by the programs by 82 percent. As governor, I’ll work with California’s community colleges to ensure we’re using our funding in the best way possible to improve completion rates.

Do you support applying the same notion of linking funding to student performance to the UC and CSU systems?

When it comes to investing in all three of our public higher education systems, I do support strategic funding by the state that creates incentives for improving time to degree, transfer and graduation. Whether it’s through Governor Brown’s proposal or some other mechanism, I will be supportive of such efforts as governor.

What is your position on Brown’s proposal to establish an online community college to serve so-called “stranded workers” — older workers who lack the skills to advance in the workplace?

California needs to continue to expand opportunities for all residents, whether traditional students or so-called “stranded workers,” to get a quality education and the skills they need to get a good job. I have not closely studied the details of Gov. Brown’s proposal, but as governor I am committed to working with our institutions of higher learning to make sure we’re serving the needs of these students and that we’re doing it in the most efficient and economical way possible.

Delaine Eastin

Former superintendent of public instruction

Is there anything from your personal education experience that will shape your education policies?

Where to start? When my father got out of the Navy, he and my mother bought a house based on the quality of the schools in the community. I started school in San Francisco where the public school had 44 children in the 2nd-grade class I attended. My public school classroom at Brittan Acres (in San Carlos, south of San Francisco) had only 20 students in the 2nd grade. Hence my push for class size reduction as state superintendent. My schools in San Carlos were great and prepared me to be the first in my direct line to attend college. It was still a challenge for a blue-collar family to send a child to college, even without tuition, but my college education changed my life.

I attended California public schools my entire life. First, I attended San Miguel in San Francisco in the 1st and 2nd grade. My parents moved four times when I was 5 and I did not get to attend kindergarten. That is one of the reasons I want to make kindergarten mandatory. In January of my 2nd grade year, we moved to San Carlos and I attended Brittan Acres through the 6th grade. I was sworn in there as Superintendent of Public Instruction because I wanted to make the case that it had changed my life. I then attended Tierra Linda Middle School and Carlmont High School. I went to UC Davis and received my B.A. in Political Science. I was sworn in as SPI the second time at UC Davis. I then attended UC Santa Barbara where I received my M.A.

Do you have a signature education program — for K-12 or higher education — that you want to see put in place?

Yes, I want to establish universal preschool, make kindergarten mandatory and full day, increase investment in K-12 so that California is again in the top 10 in per-pupil spending, make college tuition free again and build more college and university campuses at all levels of the system.

Early education

What is your position on making state-subsidized preschool or transitional kindergarten available to all 4-year-olds?

I have been a long time advocate for universal preschool and was the honorary co-chair of Proposition 10 that established First Five California. Back in 1999, while I was superintendent, I said we needed to do universal preschool in 10 years, that was almost 20 years ago, so today, I commit do doing it in five. This needs to be a priority in California based on excellent research that is acknowledged in most other countries.

If you support expanding it, how would you fund it?

It will start with fixing the commercial and industrial property inequity in Proposition 13, such that commercial industrial property would be taxed at a higher rate, perhaps 1.5 percent and it would be reassessed every 10 years. We need to shift our budget priorities from a ‘pay later’ mentality to an investment mentality. It may cost a bit more in the short run, but much less in the long run.

Do you support efforts to expand the state’s role in providing child care and other services to children in the 0 to 3 age group, and their families?

Yes, and we will do this. We will begin by providing fully paid maternity leave for the first three months of a child’s life and then eliminate the waiting list for child care/child development. We know the most brain development occurs at this time, and what happens during this time impacts the rest of a child’s life. Right now the waiting list is more than 300,000 families because cuts made in the last recession have still not been corrected. We need to help parents to be in the workplace by giving children safe and developmental early childhood options.

If so, what kinds of programs and services would you promote?

Parenting support in hospitals and education during the prenatal period, so parents know what resources are available, and how they can access them. After parental leave, full day, affordable childcare to reduce stress on families and provide enrichment for babies when their brain development is at its peak. I will increase funding across the board, from early childhood through higher ed.

School finance

The Local Control Funding Formula was Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature school funding program. Do you support its continuation?

Yes, but we need more resources overall. I appreciate that students who are low-income, in foster care or English Language learners receive extra support, but the system as a whole is so severely underfunded that school districts across the state are making cuts. We must increase the investment by making the aforementioned changes in Prop 13 and make it possible to pass local parcel taxes with a 55 percent vote, or preferably a 50-percent-plus-one vote.

Are there any changes or fixes that you want to make to it?

We need significantly more resources for children who are homeless, and we need to work to adequately fund and serve all students. We must reduce class sizes overall but most certainly in elementary schools. We should make it easier to pass local parcel taxes as well as changing Prop.13.

Should local districts be given the power to reject charter schools if they determine that the charter has or will make an adverse financial impact on the district?

Yes.

Education groups such as the California School Boards Association and the California State PTA want the Legislature to set a goal of raising base funding in the Local Control Funding Formula by 60 percent, from about $8,000 to about $12,800 per student, which would make total K-12 funding in California well above $12,156, the most recent national average. Do you agree?

Yes.

What forms of additional revenue would you favor to achieve this goal?

My aforementioned suggestion to changes in Prop. 13 as it relates to commercial and industrial property taxes and lowering the threshold to pass local parcel taxes. Right now, the state’s contribution is on par with other states’ but the local contribution dropped dramatically due to Prop. 13 and the two-thirds requirement for parcel taxes to support teachers and educational enrichment in schools.

Teacher shortage

What would be the single most effective way to address the teacher shortage affecting many school districts in California?

We need to make teaching the most important job in California. Because it is. We need to lift teachers up, and celebrate them. We must increase the salary of our teachers and provide more scaffolding. Now we burden them with not only among the largest class sizes in the nation with the least funding, but a dearth of nurses, counselors and librarians. Teachers have to do it all, and they cannot afford housing in many districts, and they are leaving in droves.

Higher education

Will your first budget include any extra funding for the University of California and California State University systems to avoid further tuition hikes?

Absolutely. When I was a UC Regent we managed to actually reduce tuition twice. Budgets are statements of values. Our goal should be to get higher education back to an 18 percent share of the budget, as it once was. Today we are below 12 percent. California should return to its tradition of higher support for students, which is now being copied by the European Union countries and others around the world.

What will your administration do to promote college affordability for all Californians?

We will work to make our colleges and universities affordable by increasing the state support for higher education as well as changing Prop. 13, which can give additional support to K-12 and to community colleges.

Do you support Brown’s proposal to link some community college funding to student performance?

I think it must be more well-developed, in that, while the concept is logical, the state’s support has been inconsistent, bordering on sporadic, and more certainty must be built in before penalties are imposed.

Do you support applying the same notion of linking funding to student performance to the UC and CSU systems?

My same concerns apply. The state must develop long-range plans with funding guarantees to make this fair.

What is your position on Brown’s proposal to establish an online community college to serve so-called “stranded workers” — older workers who lack the skills to advance in the workplace?

Many community colleges already have online classes. I would like to see a clearinghouse approach, where we connect existing class offerings into a network of collaboration between and among community colleges. This is not a new idea, and we need not reinvent the wheel. The state should develop a catalog of offerings, identify gaps and plan on filling those gaps.

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  1. Dr. Bill Conrad 7 months ago7 months ago

    The failure of all of the candidates for governor to grasp the root cause problems of K-12 education is stunning. We need a K-12 Education system that is focused on quality student goals that will ensure that all students are prepared for college and career. We need consistent, comprehensive, and well defined curricula for all academic subjects. We need to ensure that all teachers and administrators adopt and execute high quality professional practices. We … Read More

    The failure of all of the candidates for governor to grasp the root cause problems of K-12 education is stunning. We need a K-12 Education system that is focused on quality student goals that will ensure that all students are prepared for college and career. We need consistent, comprehensive, and well defined curricula for all academic subjects. We need to ensure that all teachers and administrators adopt and execute high quality professional practices. We need high quality formative and summative assessments. We need to ensure system-wide implementation, monitoring and accountability. We need to totally restructure the Teacher Education system so that teachers are truly prepared to teach and not in perpetual need of PD remediation paid for by the school districts. We need to turn teaching into a profession and not a raconteur hobby of 6-hr work days and 9 month school years. It is fairly straightforward but none of these candidates are able to articulate these clear goals for K-12 education but instead revert to the pablum that constitutes the current fog of K-12 Education. It is time to pick leaders who can help us emerge from this fog to ensure what all students and their families want ! God help us!