The state of California administers school funding with an iron fist. An unaccountable and largely unelected, bureaucracy decides how much funding schools get. Funding is based primarily on enrollment. The state imposes strict curriculum requirements that must be uniform across all schools and prevents local schools from catering to the specific needs of their community. It subjects teachers to an administrative reporting system that grades them on metrics decided in Sacramento.
There's just one problem - not all schools have the same needs.
Why is it that the small city of Holtville, CA, with a population of only 6,000, ought to fork over tax dollars to a bureaucracy located over 600 miles away with no clue as to the needs of Holtville children and the city's economy? Does anyone really think the educational needs of Holtville are identical to the needs of students in Los Angeles with it's population of about 4 million people? Why don't we let them each spend their own tax dollars and set their own education standards without the wasteful expense of a centralized bureaucracy?
The Los Angeles times wrote that "Educational history is full of examples of expensive, well-intended programs that never helped impoverished students." Maybe that's because the people making the programs don't understand that education is not a "one-size fits all" endeavor.
A centralized department of education is a substantial financial burden. The department itself requires funding, and every dollar spent on administration is a dollar not spent on educating children. Between the soaring costs of public employee pensions and healthcare, rent, maintenance, and utility costs of administrative facilities, most education dollars never even see the inside of a classroom. Then wonder to yourself if you'd rather pay them or give that money to a teacher. Is this money better-spent in an office in Sacramento than a classroom here?
The Department of Education is pushing every child in our schools to go to college. While this is a well-intentioned effort, college is not for everyone. Meanwhile, we have a shortage of skilled trade workers - plumbers, electricians, and HVAC technicians, to name a few. These jobs pay very well. The state steers our kids away from them and towards college, where they are taking on unprecedented levels of debt in pursuit of degrees that are worth less and less every year. Students who spend just 2 years in a trade school save thousands of dollars on education and have the opportunity to earn more than their college-educated peers.
The current Senator, Bob Wieckowski, isn't attacking the root cause of student debt. Rather, he wants to let students go into debt and then let them get ensnared in embarrassing bankruptcy battles with special rules for people who "default on a loan" to "level the public and private payments to 15%" by letting the private banks garnish your wages at 15% instead of 25%. It seems the senator hasn't taken Economics 101. If college degrees don't command wages that can pay off student loans, perhaps we shouldn't put incentives in place that allow them to pursue degrees that put them at higher risk of bankruptcy? Policies like this give incentives to bankruptcy attorneys, like senator Wieckowski, to prey upon young Californians who pursue college degrees they can't use.
If elected, I will push for legislation that will hand control of schools, and their funding, back to the cities in which they're located and cut the bureaucracy at the state level to save Californians precious tax dollars. Additionally, I'd ask schools to work with trade industry representatives to find out how best to match students with jobs that are in demand.