With education, we should think globally but allow decisions to be made locally. Eric Swalwell will use his background as the founder and president of the Dublin High School Alumni Association, business background, experience in the Alameda County District Attorney's Office, education policy knowledge and school leadership experience to create substantive reforms to our education system. Providing a quality education to our children should be our highest priority. We must build a 21st Century public education system that provides each and every child with the opportunity to grow and thrive. The world is changing fast. And if our district's children -- and children across America, are going to compete in a global economy, we must transform the way we educate our children. I propose repealing No Child Left Behind and delivering as much federal dollars to local districts for local decision-making as possible. We also must encourage private industry and public educators and administrators to get on the same page so that we are preparing our children with the skills they will need to enter the workforce.
- Abolish President Bush's No Child Left Behind:
I will work to repeal President Bush's NCLB Act. In this changing economy, we need flexible standards that reflect regional needs. Not nationalized standards, that would expect the same of Birmingham, Alabama as Hayward, California. NCLB is hand-cuffing our teachers' ability to teach, putting a ceiling on our children's ability to learn, and unfairly labeling too many schools as "failing." The legislation must be reconsidered and rewritten, particularly in the areas of assessment and accountability.
Under the current law, teachers are required to ensure that students pass a test. The myriad different learning styles and experiences among students are not addressed or considered. Scoring poorly on a test does not mean that a student is poorly educated. Further, NCLB, prevents teachers from teaching a developing, high-performing child beyond the rigid, prescribed curriculum, i.e., at some point in an academic year, many high-performing students will hit a ceiling and will be deprived further learning. Low-performing students who are "just good enough" will also be moved along to the next grade without hitting the ceiling of their learning capacity. We must reflect this inflexible method of measuring our students. NCLB also unfairly disadvantages non-white minority students. I will work everyday in Congress to create a flexible education system that recognizes that all of our children are gifted and have the potential to learn.
- Strengthening Families:
No matter how many dollars we invest in education, if the curriculum from the classroom is not reinforced at the kitchen table, it is meaningless. The federal government, where appropriate, has an interest in helping to strengthen families. Nothing strengthens a family more than having educated adults raising children. Education is the glue that can keep a family together. I will work to invest federal dollars in workforce re-training centers, faith-based programs, and GED and continuing education programs so that adults are able to not only encourage their children to keep learning, but learn and teach with them.
- Pre-Kindergarten/Early Childhood Development:
Studies show that the first years of a child's life are the most formative. With a federal investment in early childhood development, we can avoid costly efforts to correct under-performance later in a child's academic career. I will fight to fund universal access to preschool and other early childhood development programs. Investing in children before they enter kindergarten will save billions of dollars correcting under-performance of those who do not have access to pre-kindergarten education.
- K-12 Education
Our education system is at a crossroads. We can keep doing the same, tired, standardized test method of educating our children and be left in the dust to our country's competitors. Or, we can transform, from kindergarten to high school, how we prepare our students. All options must be on the table to reform public education. I will approach every budget with the following mantra: Education is the foundation of our success. Meaning, nothing else the federal government funds is important if we have a sub-standard education system. Our military needs educated servicemen and women. Our economy needs a prepared workforce. Why would we make anything other than educating our children a priority? Thus, education must be not only adequately funded, but increasingly funded. The federal government cannot expect schools to do more and fund less. We must increase federal dollars going to local districts and decrease unfunded mandates. We must also continue to explore and fund the following education models:
-- Blended Learning: We must prepare our children for the technological skills they will need to compete. In fact, very often, a child's understanding of technology (computers, tablets, Internet) are well beyond their instructors. We must catch all educators up to speed on technology advances and then allow them to work hand-in-hand with their students. Computers offer a new way to teach our children. Blended learning models combine different learning environments, blending traditional face-to-face classroom methods with more modern computer methods. The blended model is preferred because neither should be solely relied upon; rather, both models should compliment one another.
-- Differential Learning: Every child learns differently. Our education system should understand and adapt to that. Differential learning can be a silver bullet to controlling our dropout rate. Recognizing that each student learns differently, and acting and teaching to their capacity for learning, can be the difference between a high school degree and a high school dropout who is likely to live below the poverty line or commit crimes against our community.
-- STEM Education: We must provide funding so every district can have Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programs. The skills our children will learn through this program will prepare them to compete in a global economy.
Children cannot adequately learn, however, if we do not provide them with highly-trained teachers. For starters, young, qualified teachers need job security. Too many districts routinely issue pink slips to young teachers every spring. This is unacceptable and not seen in almost any other profession. It's also a deterrent to attracting talented teachers and causes talented teachers to leave the profession early. If we want teachers to teach, we must equip them with not only the skills and technology to do so, but also job security. And if teachers cannot meet fair evaluation standards, we must re-train them.
Focus on Bullying
Bullying is an alarming problem in schools across the nation. Every day 160,000 students stay home from school due to fear of what awaits them. Advances in technology have elevated this behavior from harmless teasing to harassment and intimidation that is impossible to ignore.
No child should be afraid to go to school. As your Congressman, I'll make sure the federal government is available to assist with the education and awareness of this issue. Prevention programs, parent information, and partnering with state and local officials all help ensure every child feels safe in his/her learning environment. By working together, we can make sure our students are given the tools they need to succeed.
Preparing to Enter the Workforce
Today's generation of students must have post-secondary education training to compete in the global economy. We must make sure there are enough funded options: community colleges, vocational training, or a four-year university. We must also make sure students, from all backgrounds, can afford to receive a post-secondary school education. I will work to reform our student loan program, de-emphasize a parent's earnings in determining loan amount, and work to create a system that allows any student to receive a tuition loan for post-secondary training. If given the opportunity to receive a student loan to receive skills to enter today's economy, America's students will not only happily pay those loans back, but also power our economy forward.
About the issues:
America needs an economic comeback. I’m ready to lead our comeback and will work from a core set of principles to achieve this. Today’s issues can no longer be placed in silos or separated from one another. In this global economy and digital world, our issues are inter-connected, inter-related and must be integrated. The issues in this section are all inter-dependent on American competitiveness and our ability to create good-paying jobs that strengthen our economy.