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California State Government October 7, 2003 Election
Smart Voter

California Education: Changing Our Focus

By John J. "Jack" Hickey

Candidate for Recall of Gray Davis; State of California

This information is provided by the candidate
Suggests that choice and responsibility for children's education should be restored to families.
For years the education establishment has focused on government schools as the "one size fits all" solution to education. Almost 90% of California's children have been channeled into these government schools, with "free" education as the carrot and compulsory attendance laws as the stick. This has come at the expense of education alternatives, which in most instances are proven to be far superior, and less costly. It has come at an annual cost to taxpayers in California which approaches $50 Billion. It has infringed upon the rights of parents. And, it has failed miserably in providing the skills necessary for many young citizens to fully participate in our flourishing economy without remedial tutoring.

Now, those in the establishment who truly care about children, sit around contemplating their navel, unable to figure out what went wrong with the system. Others, whose motives are less noble, see the establishment of Secular Humanism as the state religion. To solidify their position this cult seeks more money for a morally bankrupt system, and, they would extend the K-12 system to three-year old children.

Don't get me wrong! Secular Humanists have the same Constitutional rights as those of other persuasions. But none have the right to teach their religion in tax-funded schools.

Listen to some of the recommendations from the Universal Preschool Task Force convened by State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Delaine Eastin:

"Offer publicly funded universal preschool within ten years to all three- and four-year-old children in California for at least one-half day during the regular school year. ... Establish extensions and connections with year-round providers to offer full-day child care with funds available for that purpose. ... Fund universal preschool providers similarly to public school funding, with payments based on the average number of children served."

Consider this: If we extend K-12 by two years, the lifetime cost at today's level (in Y2K dollars) per child would be 15 x $10,000, or $150,000. Multiply that by 2.2 children per family, and we get $330,000. Why not just give each family a brand new home? With room for a live-in tutor.

This latest effort to include three-year old children is the carrot to induce parents to give their children up to Hillary's village. What parent of a three year old child would not jump at the opportunity to have "free" child care so that they could go to work and earn enough to pay their taxes?

Parents who would choose alternatives, have been discouraged from doing so. There is a scarcity of private schools of all types. Homeschooling families are harassed by Child Services.

It is Time to Change our Focus

It's time to recognize that it is natural for parents to know their childrens' needs, and to choose what is right for them. And, that education occurs naturally in many different environments, with schools being one choice. It's time to encourage families to provide for their children's education, just as they provide food, clothing and shelter. This can be done in part by removing disincentives. Temporary rewards, in the form of education performance vouchers or tax credits, could speed up the transition to a market based system of education, with choice the operative.

It should be a goal of policymakers, to seek a system of education which places government schools as the schools of last resort. Schools where children who have fallen through the crack can be educated. Parents should be restored to their role as consumers to whom providers of education and associated resources would be accountable.

In the past five years, half of the requests by parents seeking to have their children attend a school other than the one assigned by their local school district, have been denied. There is no reason why parents should be denied a choice in where their children are educated, so long as that choice does not involve added expense to taxpayers.

I would also suggest global public policy changes which would encourage families to assume full responsibility for the education of their children. Savings derived from the transfer of students out of "tax-funded" government schools could temporarily be used to provide tax credits to parents during the transfer. Families would experience long-term financial relief as tax collections are reduced. Key to this reduction is the Gann Expenditure Limit, which would rachet down the global limit, and taxes which support that limit, as the government schooling system shrinks in size.

Private vouchers, which are growing in support, would be the natural, free-market solution for those whose finances are insufficient to effect the transfer. And, it should be remembered that education can occur anywhere. Teachers come in all sizes and shapes, and credentials do not guarantee competence. Nor do large class sizes prevent excellence in learning experiences. One need only read of the Marva Collins story in Chicago to understand what is possible.

As Trustee of the San Mateo County Board of Education, I would make changes to Board policy to promote choice and open meetings. I would seek to get the public involved. Toward that end, meeting agendas, minutes and informational packets for the media should be published on the San Mateo County Office of Education website.

Propositions 38 and 39

I urge a NO vote on both propositions! Prop. 38 includes a guaranteed minimum funding provision equal to the National average. Such a guarantee has no place alongside the tax and spending limits pioneered by Jarvis and Gann in the California Constitution. And, the voucher provision of Prop. 38 is a school voucher which excludes benefits for parents who tutor their children at home.

Prop. 39, in addition to lowering the 2/3 vote requirement for bonds, would increase the cost of Charter schools. These schools were intended to provide more efficient education, responsive to local control. They were exempted from onerous restrictions of the Education Code and allowed to hire teachers of their choosing unencumbered by pre-existing union contracts of the district in which the are chartered. In return, they had to pay for facilities out of per-pupil funding. Prop. 39 would lead to higher property taxes by providing those facilities.

Choose a Clear Vision for Education in California

Change the Focus

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