Public Schools, Private Schools, and Charter Schools in California
The success of any student in a public school system is not only dependent upon the school and its teachers but in large part also on parent participation in their children’s education. So much so that parents need to be constantly involved in their children's homework, grade checking, attending parent teacher conferences, open house, and athletic events, etc.
And hence here may be a breakdown in the cog of the wheel for youth public education – cost of living in California is high, very high for young families, and in order to survive both parents typically work leaving very little time for their children's educational oversight. This is a fact and a reality, and teachers can usually tell fairly quickly which students have parent involvement and which students do not and I bet a simple graph showing students grades versus parent involvement would yield interesting results.
Lack of parent involvement is compensated for in Private and Charter Schools as classrooms are smaller and teachers are able to pay more attention to students especially the ones who are in need, but the reality is that majority of the young families in California CANNOT afford private schools for their children.
There is room for improvement in any organization and there are areas where the State of California can assist the Public School System in their mission to educate our youth, and hence young families as well. However, the State should interject itself only where it makes the most common sense. It needs to listen to its public school system teachers!! In addition, any improvements proposed typically costs money. I propose the State increases the school budget to $77 Billion annually to pay for school improvements and pension funds. Here are some areas where the State needs to help the California School System:
1. REDUCE CLASSROOM SIZE TO 16 STUDENTS MAXIMUM:See the classroom size chart below – California and the US is well behind other nations in education class size. California should strive to reduce classroom sizes to 16 students or less in the next few years. Nothing happens overnight but reducing classroom size across the board K-12 over the span of four (4) years in the California Public School System will allow teachers to give more attention to students and simply do their job better – this means hiring additional teachers as well as teacher training. We should strive to reduce classroom size to 16 students maximum in California. By the way the current US average classroom size is 24.1 students and higher in California.
It is interesting to note that the Russian Federation has had classroom sizes of 16 students since 2007 and earlier. The value of the less number of students per teacher is not lost upon them and we need to catch up in this regard.
2. ADD AND/OR BUILD MODERN SCHOOLS WHERE NEEDED:And they are needed in many parts of California – some California schools are 40 to 50 years old and have been remodeled multiple times to accommodate new technology and earthquake building codes. Some schools use portable buildings to prevent overcrowding of classrooms beyond 25 students or more. It is time to build new modern schools that are outfitted with new technology to aid teaching and reduced class sizes to 16 students.
Modern and New Schools in CaliforniaA very sensitive subject in California and nationwide are the rights of Transgender Students to use designated bathrooms. It is about time we stop hiding behind a rock and enter the 21st Century when it comes to this subject. As part of the school initiative for new and modern schools that I propose is that all bathrooms in public schools are rebuilt to become gender-neutral bathrooms.
This means bathrooms are converted to have enclosed stalls only, with toilet, sink, ventilation, lighting and stalls go floor to ceiling and are gender neutral. No sinks outside the stalls, no urinals outside the stalls, and the room where the stall are has a large window, large entrance with no door – i.e. wide open. Private individual self contained stalls only. Students would not be allowed to hang out in this open area other than to wait for an open stall to use.
3. TUTORING PROGRAM:Many students could do much better if they simply had access to a thorough and reliable tutoring program. Some students simply struggle in school and need additional help. To say that all students learn equally is like saying all of the fish in the ocean are identical – it’s ludicrous and besides an artist is not necessarily good in math, and vice versa. One of the strengths of the US is that we are very good in innovation and that does not come by producing likeminded widgets.
The State of California should advocate for a school run tutoring program at public schools free of charge to struggling students who can and are willing to improve. Schools have this now but it is a fraction of where it needs to be. This is one of the areas where we are able to help young families who otherwise would have to pay $40 or more per week for tutoring that they may actually go without because they simply cannot afford it.
4. TECHNOLOGY:Public schools need to be updated with technology, computers, internet, software, televisions, cable, printers, and the like. Elementary teachers are routinely dependent upon parents to donate old computers and even the basics such as pencils, paper, scissors etc. Some cooking classes in California schools have ovens from the 1970’s or earlier.
5. ATHLETIC FACILITIES:There is nothing better than to occupy a young mind through athletic activities after school. Athletic activities such as team and individual sports keep kids out of trouble, provides role models through coaches, teaches team spirit, and a longing to belong to an organization. However, athletic facilities are lacking in many public schools due to lack of funding.
Consequently, athletic facilities are sometimes funded by donations, sales of tickets, fund raiser etc. This process can take years before a school can fund a new track for instance.
The State of California should fund public school athletic facilities at Middle and High School levels on a constant basis each year (again nothing happens over night and it may take years to build new facilities) to ensure each school has the following modern facilities:
- Gym for basketball and other activities (that can also be utilized for emergencies such as earthquakes, floods, etc)
- Football Field (that is not utilized by other sports)
- Soccer Field (multi use for lacrosse etc.)
- Baseball Field (that is not in the middle of a football or soccer field)
- Swimming pool
- Track & Field
In addition these facilities should be open to afterschool recreational and club sports to be shared equally and without charge as many of our youth participate in sports after school and we should support them.
6. PUBLIC SCHOOL DRIVER’S EDUCATION:As governor of California I propose that the California Public School system adopt a two semester mandatory driver education course which all students must complete successfully to receive their driver's license. The primary reason for this besides education and knowledge of driving is to lower insurance costs for our young drivers and families. Insurance costs are skyrocketing, so much so that young drivers in California are paying as much for insurance as they are for their car.
Here I would like to sit down with the automotive industry and highway patrol and see how they can help and participate. As part of the course students would take field trips to designated race tracks to learn how to drive in all sorts of situations and road conditions taught by professional drivers. I envision this one year Drivers ED Course to be challenging both academically as well as in driving ability. Here are some reasons for it:
- Gain knowledge of rules of the road and learn how to drive (practice driving)
- Become familiar with the road and learn to avoid dangers such as DUI’s and texting while driving for instance
- Learn how to avoid road rage – give students the tools
- Learn how to drive safely in various road conditions and what to do in accidents
- Respect POLICE and HIGHWAY PATROL Officers who are simply doing their job – why be polite, learn what to say and how to say it when pulled over for a traffic infraction
- As we are heading towards electric car use in California students need to become comfortable in their use and I would like the automotive industry to participate in this in a big way