Fully-Funded Public Education

Fully-Funded Public Education

Every person in California, no matter their zip code or their family's wealth, should be able to have an excellent public education. In the Assembly, I will work to:

  • Expand public education funding for K-12 schools to reduce class sizes, improve teacher compensation, and restore arts, music, and vocational courses.
  • Provide free tuition for public college for all California residents.
  • Implement tuition-free universal childcare and pre-K programs, for all California residents.
  • Set a moratorium on new charter schools and stop special giveaways to charter corporations.

Public education is the cornerstone of an equitable society and a just economy. California's public education system was once one of the best in the nation. Our 1960 Master Plan set a goal of making public higher education "available to all regardless of their economic means." Since then, five decades of harsh cuts to education, driven by tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, have now left our education system deeply underfunded. Our system is increasingly vulnerable to privatization and fragmentation by charter schools, which too often worsen inequality and dodge public accountability. It is time to reverse this long downward slide.

For the past 18 years, I have been a children's mental health professional in the East Bay. I work with high-need children, their guardians, and educators to develop comprehensive plans for a child's success at school and beyond. This work has given me a systematic, in-depth view of how our education system connects with social programs and career paths, especially in underserved working-class communities.

As an elected leader on City Council, I have worked closely with Richmond's teachers to reduce class sizes, advocate English language learner programs in K-12 and adult education, raise teachers' salaries, and improve nutrition in school meals. Teachers want what's best for their students and communities, and I am tremendously proud to have earned the endorsement of both the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers for this election.

Strengthen K-12 Public Education Across California

In Sacramento I will build legislative alliances to win fairer and expanded funding for public education at all levels. Existing legislation offers a strong start. I support full implementation of Proposition 98, the constitutional funding guarantee for K-12 schools and community college. Prop 98 should be used as a starting point, not a ceiling. We should oppose measures which exempt revenues from Prop 98 provisions. I will be committed to winning the funds to return California's education system to rank as one of the best. I strongly support Assembly Bill 2808 to increase public school funding, giving top priority to high-need districts.

To generate stable funding for our schools at all levels, we must close the corporate tax loopholes produced by Proposition 13 and raise taxes on corporate profits and the wealthy few.

Charter school corporations and foundations controlled by billionaires have become major players in California politics, seeking to undermine public education and education worker unions with their privatization agenda. Because I take no money from corporations, pro-charter school PACS, or billionaires, in the Assembly I will be a corporate-free leader advocating strong public education for all Californians.

I advocate a statewide moratorium on new charter schools and an end to unaccountable giveaways of public resources to charter corporations. Charter schools have generally undermined public school quality, failed to provide better education, harmed education worker unions, and worsened working conditions and dignity for teachers. Charters in our state have received hundreds of millions of public dollars for special needs students, but push a high proportion of those students back into the public system. Continued public funding for existing charter schools must require clear accountability and strong protections for teacher and student conditions. Local school boards must have the power to deny charter petitions and renewals, and to make facilities decisions based on local education needs and funding.

Our schools will only improve if we respect and reward our teachers for the incredible work they do to build California's future. Stronger teacher compensation will result in improved teacher recruitment, retention, and capacity. I support expanding access to affordable housing for teachers as a priority in my Housing for All plan. I will endorse dedicated funding to enhance teachers' professional development at all levels of public education. I support dignity and due process in the discipline procedure for educators, so teachers are protected from retaliatory and inappropriate punishment.

I will work to defend and expand the ability of teachers, and all education workers, to collectively organize to improve working and learning conditions. I pledge to learn from teachers and education workers as I consider policies for improving our education system.

We must expand career and technical education programs for all students. Many skilled, well-paying jobs do not require advanced degrees. Opportunities for training for these careers should begin in high school, in coordination with the community colleges. This should include a school-to-union pipeline to train our young people for good union jobs in industries with growing needs such as healthcare, clean energy, and infrastructure work.

Across my career and my elected leadership in Richmond, I have seen how arts, music, and athletics courses can play crucial roles in motivating students to learn, grow, and commit to their education. I will be a strong advocate for improving public education funding for those courses and after-school programs that inspire and motivate students while also building the foundations of culturally thriving communities. An important part of addressing the so-called "achievement gap" is to give teachers flexibility to offer culturally relevant teaching, and to hire teachers with relevant experience.

Tuition-Free Public Pre-K through College

I advocate providing all California residents with universal tuition-free childcare, pre-K, and college education at community colleges, the California State University, and University of California systems. As soon as I arrive in the Assembly, I will work to build the legislative coalition and the public movement needed to win this essential expansion of tuition-free public education. By providing an excellent education to all Californians from pre-K through college we can create the foundation for an economy with prosperity for all.

In Sacramento, I will immediately support legislation like Assembly Bill 204 to waive enrollment fees for community college students. We also should forgive community college debts to the state government because these intra-governmental paper debts undermine our higher education system. Community colleges are often the bridge to skilled work or higher education for working people and students who cannot initially afford four-year colleges. We need to make sure that their facilities include modern training equipment and stable staffing.

I strongly oppose federal efforts that target undocumented students and faculty, and that hinder inclusion in our community colleges and public education overall. I support legislation to protect students who are "Dreamers," the children of undocumented immigrants.

We need to strengthen legislation like the recently passed Senate Bill 285 to prohibit public employers from deterring or discouraging public workers from becoming or remaining members of employee organizations. This is especially important in higher education where adjunct faculty and student workers face unacceptably low compensation and rapidly growing workloads, and often collectively organize to improve their conditions. In higher education, I will support increasing dedicated funding for full and part-time faculty and the equalization of working conditions for part-time and adjunct faculty with regular college and university faculty.

In the Assembly, I will work to publicly fund a comprehensive system for coordination between community colleges, school districts, cities, counties and other public agencies to deliver social work and mental health services. Through Medicare for All, we must provide expanded mental health and social services for students, especially those in the community college system.

I support inclusive and democratic decision-making for public education. Administration of our higher education system has become overly controlled by corporations and the wealthy few, rather than driven by the needs of working people. Elite appointments and high-paying administrative positions should be determined through a democratic process that prioritizes educator and student voices, not the interests of powerful political donors. I will support a freeze on college administrator pay during years of student tuition hikes.

California should have democratic elections for the statewide K-12 State Board of Education, the Community College Board of Governors, CSU Board of Trustees, and UC Board of Regents. Students, educators, and workers in higher education should have the ability to directly elect voting members of these boards. Public higher education should be run in the public interest with strong representation for the students and workers who have the greatest stake in educational success.

Jovanka Beckles

I am running for the California State Assembly to transform our state government to work for people, not profit. Join me and our movement to build a California that works for the many, not the few.