It is the responsibility of each generation to educate the next, and California has the opportunity to provide a world-class education for our children. The first step is to recognize that education should not be run like a business, nor should curriculum be determined solely by economic value. The California National Party (CNP) believes that the education system must provide not only the skills necessary to work and live in the increasingly technology-driven 21st century, but also the ability to think critically about complex contemporary issues, recognize the events and lessons of the past, develop means of self-expression, and understand the functioning of the human and natural world.
Additionally, all levels of public education must have a California Studies component that covers our national history, government, culture, geography, and art. College and university students would be required to pass a class in California politics and history to receive their degrees, just as is presently required for United States government and history. This will allow young Californians to recognize the accomplishments and failings of those who came before them, gain a real understanding of the political system under which they live, and celebrate the richness and diversity of their California identity.
Family and Child Care
The decision to start a family is a right open to all people equally, and the future path of a child’s education is often strongly influenced by the care given in the early years of life. As cost-of-living increases have skyrocketed in California, it is more important than ever that structural economic inequalities that prevent many people from starting families and raising children be lessened. To accomplish this, the CNP supports the following policies:
- Companies with more than 50 employees will be required to provide unpaid, job-protected leave for family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave. This includes 12 workweeks of leave for the birth and care of a child in its first year.
- Employers with at least five employees must give employees a reasonable period of leave (generally six to eight weeks, but no more than four months) for disability relating to pregnancy, childbirth, or related conditions.
- Paid paternity leave for all parents and guardians, including adoptive parents, regardless of gender, and the same percentage of wages, no matter what the size of the company.
- Employers must also provide full-time workers at least one week of paid sick leave each year so that all workers can stay home when they or family members are ill.
- Adoption agencies must not be permitted to discriminate against any potential parents by reasons of race, religion, age, gender identity or orientation, economic status, marital status, social values, or political persuasion. Only the ability of parents to provide loving, healthy, stable, and education-rich environments should be used to just potential adoptive and foster parents.
- For international adoptions, California will negotiate to set policies which follow the laws of the child’s native country, while maintaining our own levels of tolerance and standards for safety. Since these vary greatly between the almost 200 different nations in the world, each application will be carefully considered on a case-by-case basis.
- Ensure that quality cost-free or low-cost child care is available to all Californians, regardless of employment, insurance, citizenship status, or any other factors.
- Establish Childcare and Education Savings Accounts (CESA) through the California public bank into which California deposits funds for each child in the household to be used by their caregivers exclusively for child care, regardless of income.
- Promote proper training, certification, equipment, facilities, and employment of child care professionals in all areas where they are needed.
Pre-K through High School
California must develop educational standards for history, math, language arts, and science classes using material crafted independently of the American market. Such study areas must focus on the variety of contributions to global, North American, and California history made by people of diverse ethnic, political, and gender backgrounds as well as empirical, evidence-based scientific theories. We will promote self-exploration and self-identification at all levels in all schools, providing means and resources for all children to become educated thinkers, responsible citizens, and well-rounded human beings. To this end, the CNP advocates the following policies:
- Expansion of the current public school system to include non-compulsory full-day kindergarten and free full-day preschool for 3 and 4-year olds.
- Limiting Pre-K through 12 class sizes to 25 students per teacher, which requires hiring more highly qualified teachers and building more real classrooms, not just trailers.
- Emphasizing the development of critical thinking skills and the practice of evaluating evidence, questioning, and going “outside the box”.
- Accomplishments of our ancestors should be celebrated and historic injustices acknowledged. We must establish comprehensive California-wide issue education standards for primary, secondary, and tertiary public and private schools to think critically on past and present issues regarding race, ethnicity, and gender.
- Science courses must be based on facts currently and widely accepted by the global scientific community in such fields as biology, astronomy, environmental geography, etc. with investment in STEAM fields, and emphasis on historically underrepresented groups.
- Educate all students in English and Spanish, the two primary languages of the Western Hemisphere, with a goal of bilingual fluency.
- Additional resources must be devoted to teaching languages of increasing global importance through a combination of in-person and online instruction, so students are not limited by local resources. Funding must be increased for elective foreign language instruction at all levels of public education.
- Courses in topics essential for the modern world, including but not limited to: fine arts, music, technology, citizenship, conflict resolution, family studies, personal health, and cyber-safety should be required, from kindergarten through high school. Additionally, sex education will be included, starting in 6th grade.
- Incentivization of study abroad programs in secondary schools that are fully accessible to all students, regardless of socioeconomic status.
- Rather than rely on the uncertainties of local property taxes, income from which often goes into the general fund, school districts should instead be provided a specific education fund, with a set level from a variety of local government income sources.
- Mandatory proof of all required childhood vaccinations under California law before admission to all public schools, including public charter schools. Annual flu shots and HPV inoculation for all students will be recommended but not required. Individuals who choose not to vaccinate their children may enroll their children either at private schools or in structured and certified homeschooling programs.
California will continue to establish, support, and fund public charter schools that fulfill the requirements set in place by the California Charter Schools Association. These schools are tuition-free, open to all students, accredited, accountable to national education standards, and put the needs of students over the needs of any bureaucracy.
The quality of their educational services will be maintained by the oversight of local school boards. They will be publicly funded through fundraising, donations, and non-profit organizations. All families will be afforded complete control over school choice, location, and presentation of material. A full spectrum of models will be represented by these schools, including brick-and-mortar classrooms, online-only courses, independent study, GED, and blended programs.
The CNP supports several existing policies regarding charter schools. First, those charter schools that are closing the achievement gap are granted a streamlined renewal, with the ability to be renewed up to seven years. Second, any consideration of the fiscal impact of a new charter school petition must be balanced with the academic needs of the students who are going to be served. Third, a five-year transition should remain for non-core charter school teachers to secure appropriate certification.
The CNP will also ensure that charter schools whose petitions, for either establishment or renewal, are denied will be permitted to appeal to the Board of Education for reconsideration.
College and University
The California Community College system must be securely funded. It not only serves as the first step in many paths to higher education but also provides an avenue for those seeking employable vocational skills. As the economy evolves, the role of community colleges as providers of adult retraining programs is increasingly important. All community colleges should be free for California residents, regardless of immigration status, as defined in the Immigration plank. Students seeking further academic, rather than vocational, training can transfer to the CSU or UC system tuition-free if they meet certain requirements.
The CNP proposes the following policies and standards:
- Create a supervised and regulated apprentice program combining academic course work with paid, on-site job training for both blue-collar and white-collar employment, leading to an Associate’s Degree and job placement.
- Guarantee admission to a California State University (CSU) campus for all students who fulfill certain class requirements with at least a 2.5 GPA in academic classes within a given time period and who do not already possess a Bachelor’s degree. Students with a GPA of 3.3 or higher would also have the option of enrolling in the University of California (UC) system.
- Assure that every community college has transfer agreements with at least one CSU and one UC.
- Tuition for transfer students will be covered in subsequent academic periods so long as the above GPAs are maintained.
- Other students not meeting the above requirements or already possessing a Bachelor’s degree would still be permitted to apply to the CSU and UC system.
- Tuition costs for California residents should be reduced from their current level and capped.
- Student fees and acceptance policy for non-Californians would remain unchanged, with admission priority given to California residents who meet the above requirements.
Students graduating from a California high school with a 3.3 GPA for CSUs and 3.5 for UCs can enter university directly if they wish and will have tuition waived if they maintain those GPAs for their freshman/sophomore years. They will thereafter be subject to the GPA requirements for transfer students. Since many students will likely opt to transfer through the local tuition-free community college system, building the skills necessary for college success in the process, freshman/sophomore classes at CSUs and UCs will be smaller and more effective.
California will undertake an expansion of the community college system, especially in rural areas, and see to it that, just as each county should have a county hospital, each county with a population over 50,000 should have its own community college. Smaller counties will be unified into districts emphasizing distance learning, with the option of physical classes held at locations in each county. Smaller expansions of the CSU and UC system should also cover greater geographic diversity in places historically underrepresented academically. We propose new campuses in Redding, Visalia, and the Coachella Valley region.
For post-graduation, California must reduce tuition for graduate degrees at CSUs and UCs, with an optional program to waive or reduce tuition in exchange for a period of employment in county hospitals, district attorney and public defender offices, the California public education system, etc. depending on the degree.
Students can only be successful if educators are given the resources necessary for their students’ success. For too long California has failed to fund and support educators at adequate levels, while administrative costs, especially in higher education, have rapidly increased. California must refocus its emphasis on retaining the workforce that is educating the next generation of Californians. The following steps will help to make the California educational system more responsive to the needs of Californians:
- Schools, colleges, and universities in California should be run by administrators who are also educators with teaching experience, not politicians or non-academic managers. Ongoing training, including leadership skills and professional development, must be accessible so all teachers can stay up to date on new knowledge and provide the best quality instruction, while also creating a path for teachers to move into administration.
- There should be a moratorium on increased administrative spending, and particularly an end to increasing senior administrator pay and a cap on the percentage of education budgets allocated for administrative staff, until tuition costs and pay issues for educators are resolved.
- Support local school districts in creating a materials fund for teachers.
- Guarantee high performing teachers the ability to move from one district to another, while maintaining seniority and pay grade, and provide a mechanism by which teachers can maintain residency inside the communities where they teach. California’s cost of living has made this increasingly difficult.
- Teachers must be guaranteed academic freedom and have their performance evaluated using a review standard that includes peers, superiors, and students to ensure quality instruction, with teacher input on how such evaluations are constructed.
- Overhaul teacher retention and review policies, to support new teachers and keep them working within the K-12 system.
- When new standards are proposed by California’s Education department, they must work with the affected educators and administrators to construct and approve curricula matching those standards before the adoption of the program.
- Ensure consistent standards of quality between districts, with a maximum funding difference of 15% per student between school districts, allowing flexibility to provide higher salaries in more expensive areas while guaranteeing that no schools are left underfunded.
- Increase funding of new teacher salaries with a focus on underserved areas, with an explicit ban on using increased funding for administrator and veteran teacher salaries, or for facilities costs.
- Replace the tiered system for CSU and community college lecturers as limited-time contract workers with one that secures for them normal, full-time employment with set course load and benefits.