2014 Bus Trip to Sacramento brought state legislators who represent
Santa Clara County together with constituents who are most affected by
the changes in education -- students.
60 percent of the 150 participants who filled two buses were students
from Santa Teresa and Oak Grove high schools, with a few students from
the National Hispanic University and community colleges. The annual trip
was sponsored by my office and the Silicon Valley Education Foundation.
left San Jose from the Eastridge Transit Center at 7 a.m. on Wednesday,
April 30, with the goals of hearing from the state government officials
who make important decisions for us, and letting them know what we're
concerned about. We fulfilled our mission.
Gathered in a large
meeting room in the Legislative Office Building, we met with
Assemblymember and Speaker Pro-tem Nora Campos and Assemblymembers Bob
Wieckowski, Mark Stone, Paul Fong, Luis Alejo and Richard Gordon. We
started the day with an update on legislation from Estelle LeMieux, the
California Teachers Association legislative affairs director, and ended
with hearing about the priorities of Tom Torlakson, the state
superintendent of Public Instruction.
Our daylong visit came at a
time when California is putting in place the biggest changes in
education in 40 years. The reforms approved last year give school
districts more control over how they spend state funds and introduce
Common Core Standards for English and math. These standards focus less
on memorizing facts and more on critical thinking and hands-on
experience. The students in our group were very interested in that.
"Is Common Core going to prepare students more for college?" asked one member of our group.
will make you think before you answer, rather than just memorizing the
answers," said Assemblymember Fong. "We're changing the type of testing.
You should be tested on how well you think."
Another member of
our group was concerned that the focus on analytical thinking will leave
little time for "life skills" lessons, such as cooking classes and
Superintendent Torlakson's advice: "Let your Board of Education know. Tell them what you want."
Many of the students will soon be on their way to college and wondered how they are going to pay for it.
Assemblymember Wiekowski told us about his Student Bill of Rights that will give students more information to make better financial decisions about loans to pay for college and would stop creditors from taking part of a
graduate's wages to pay the school loan debt, which averages $27,000.
that the education system is leaving behind students who aren't college
bound, Assemblymember Campos is working on a bill that would give
school districts incentives to strengthen career education and improve
"A lot of people are saying, 'there are no options
for me and no funding,'" she said. "We've forgotten about a whole group
If you have questions about education or any other topic, please contact my office at (408) 299-5030 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.