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San Mateo, Santa Clara County, CA June 8, 2010 Election
Smart Voter


By Yoriko Kishimoto

Candidate for Member of the State Assembly; District 21; Democratic Party

This information is provided by the candidate
All our future leaders of California are in third grade today. We must restore full funding to education as a state priority and train and support our teachers as key to quality education.

The $9.3 billion in additional cuts to California education made in July 2009 have had a staggering impact on our school districts + forcing 20,000 teacher layoffs, increased class sizes, a shorter academic year, cancelled summer school classes and no new textbooks. These cuts fall on an already broken system. 58% of our schools are not meeting state academic assessment goals. The dropout rate in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties has reached 14%.

These cuts come with serious long-term economic implications. Our economy is increasingly dependant on workers with a college education and we now face a "skills gap" that is going to get much worse: The Public Policy Institute of California projects that by 2025, 41% of jobs will require at least a bachelor's degree + but only 35% of California adults will have college diplomas and we will be short one million needed workers. Adults with a high school diploma or less will outnumber the jobs available to people with that level of education.

California's public education system at every level is in crisis. Yoriko is a proud mother of two daughters who attended local public schools, a local school volunteer and a member of the Palo Alto High PTA. She has seen firsthand the obstacles our students and faculty face. As co-author of an internationally published book on America and California's future, she is fully aware of both the opportunities and challenges from the changing demographics of our state. She will use this experience to push for smart decisions to turn around the decline in K-12 funding and to make higher education accessible once again so that it will become the engine for California's future as the global center of the knowledge economy.

Personal Understanding of Our Education Crisis

As a member of the Addison Elementary School Site Council and classroom volunteer, Yoriko was a key member in reviewing important site budgets. She saw firsthand the impact of fluctuating state budgets including precautionary layoffs and increased demands on the principal and teachers.

Defender of Every Education Dollar

She recognizes that we cannot fix the state's schools + or those on the Peninsula + without adequate resources. She is a strong and vocal opponent of the new (??? "service cuts") and knows it is our responsibility locally, regionally and in the Capitol, to recommit funds where we need them most. She supports creative funding alternatives like Palo Alto's recently passed Measure A to increase the parcel tax for an annual $11.2 million in education funding and Assembly Bill 656 which would levy a 12.5% gas tax and whose funds would be directed to the UC, CSU, and Community College systems.

Focus on the Teachers as Key to Quality Education

A comprehensive and insightful study of educational systems around the world that looked at many different stratetegies including classroom size reduction, increasing local control, and many others. Its conclusion boiled down to three things that matter most: 1) getting the right people to become teachers, 2) developing them into effective instructors and, 3) ensuring that the system is able to deliver the best possible instruction for every child.

Overcoming Obstacles

One in four California students is a English language learner and Yoriko understands their struggle. She moved to United States with her family when she was in elementary school and started school without knowing a word of English. Her father knew that a good education was the key to her success and instilled a strong work ethic in young Yoriko. She quickly learned English, became an avid reader and student, and went on to earn degrees from Wesleyan and Stanford Universities. Yoriko wants every child to have the educational opportunities she had.

Yoriko on Education

With wildly fluctuating revenues in the state budget and a dysfunctional governance structure that makes it near impossible for legislators or top administrators to control the overall budget, nothing is "off the table" for cuts. We must, however, protect our education funding, make it easier for local dollars to be raised, and create a political consensus to raise the revenues necessary to provide all our children with the quality education they need to lead full productive lives. California spends less per pupil than other states (41st)(Katie + this is dropped since then? , but more per capita (11th). This apparent contradiction is possible because we have more students per capita (i.e. a younger population), higher teacher salaries, and one of highest pupil-teacher ratios.

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