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March 3, 2020 — Primary Election
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California State AssemblyCandidate for District 64

Photo of Fatima S. Iqbal-Zubair

Fatima S. Iqbal-Zubair

Public School Teacher
18,469 votes (32.5%)Winning
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • End Homelessness & Create Affordable housing that is truly affordable
  • Clean Air, Clean Water & Clean Food as human rights for all
  • Universal, High Quality Pre-K, High Quality Public Schools & Free four year Public College/post-secondary education

Experience

Experience

Profession:Public School Teacher & Community Advocate
TeraWatts (FIRST Robotics) Mentor, College Track Watts (2019–current)
Member of Leadership Council, Watts Rising Collaborative — Appointed position (2017–current)
Public School Teacher, Jordan High School Complex (2016–2019)
Education Commissioner, CA Assembly District 64 — Appointed position (2019–2019)
Crosscountry Coach, Harbor Teacher Preparatory Academy (2015–2016)
Private Tutor (Independent Contractor), WyzAnt (2011–2015)
Crosscountry Coach, Harbor Teacher Preparatory Academy (2015–2015)

Education

California State University- Dominguez Hills Certification, Teaching Credential (2016)
St. Eustatius School of Medicine Bachelor of Science, Medical Sciences (2010)
Ramapo College of NJ Bachelor of Science, Biology major (Psychology minor) (2005)

Community Activities

Homeless count volunteer, HACLA (2020–2020)
Member, Carson Women's Club (2019–2020)
Member, Black Women's Democratic Club (2020–2020)
Member, Carson Alliance 4 Truth (2019–2020)

Biography

A small part of me feels guilty. At the beginning of this school year, I chose to leave the classroom. I chose to leave the classroom to take a stand for families in this district. I’m a public school teacher in Watts, community advocate, immigrant, mother, environmental activist, and Carson resident. I’m running because District 64 deserves a representative that will fight to create real systemic change that will transform the trajectory for families and children in this district and across California. As the sixth poorest district in California, the communities in this district have been active for clean air, clean water, clean food, education and homelessness and it is time that their voices are heard over the voices of special interests. As a public school teacher, Department chair, and in other leadership roles, I saw every day the challenges my school and students faced. I worked hard to serve them well, bringing the first robotics program to my school, a team that has gone on to produce community leaders and advocates. However, it was hard to bring truly life changing programs to the school from the public school district. It’s time that we completely fund our schools that need it the most, including giving all teachers higher wages. I also serve on the Watts Rising Leadership Council, an environmental collaborative working to improve air quality, create sustainable, affordable housing, and bring good green jobs to Watts residents. The community of Watts, Wilmington and other communities have been fighting for a healthy environment for decades, and have some of the highest rates of health issues and some of the lowest life expectancies. It’s time that we start the transition to green, clean energy. I served as the appointed Education Commissioner for the current incumbent but became frustrated when he failed to promote the policies that our community needs. I will demand a legislative agenda which includes clean air, clean water & clean food, high quality public education and pre-K,  universal child care, tuition free college, Medicare for All, and guaranteed housing for all as a human right to not only this district, but to all of California. In the end, I would have felt even more guilty if I didn’t take my fight outside of the classroom to #breakthechains of systemic racism. Join me in my fight for the people at www.fatimaforassembly.com

 

Questions & Answers

Questions from League of Women Voters of California (4)

Describe what proposal(s) you would support to alleviate the shortage of affordable housing for all income groups in California?
Answer from Fatima S. Iqbal-Zubair:

We must pursue a wide range of policies across multiple sectors in order to address the housing and homelessness crisis. One set of policies must center on tenant rights, including universal rent control, right to counsel, and eviction protections; others must focus on property owners, such as vacancy controls and laws that make it harder for landlords to not accept housing vouchers. Municipalities must examine zoning laws and building permits, making sure that they are prioritizing affordable units over luxury ones and that they’re building multi-family, affordable units close to transit lines. I also firmly believe in having the people most impacted by a policy or system playing integral roles in the policymaking process. Therefore, I would seek to bring individuals who either are currently or were formerly unhoused into these discussions, compensating them for their time and relying on their expertise to design solutions that work.

 

In addition to these housing policies, I believe that we need to empower neighborhoods and communities to creatively address the problem locally. While there are large scale trends to homelessness, there are many stories and circumstances that led to homelessness as there are individuals experiencing it. Therefore, providing the resources needed to help local actors try innovative solutions, from housing collaboratives to land trusts and more, is necessary for creating successful, localized solutions. 

 

However, housing policies are only one part of the issue. Over half of the people experiencing homelessness in LA are homeless due to economic hardship. Many of them struggle from low-paying jobs, high daycare costs, student loans, or exorbitant medical bills. Therefore, equally critical are increasing minimum wage to a livable wage, creating free and universal pre-K and college options, and insuring everyone under Medicare-for-All (including robust mental and behavioral health services). In addition, none of these policies will work without a deep reckoning throughout our communities and government on the role that systemic racism has played in creating and exacerbating issues in housing and homelessness. In LA, while Black people make up only 9% of the general population, they account for 40% of our unhoused neighbors. This is just one example of a culmination of policies, from redlining to unequal housing policies and more. We must therefore critically examine the role that systemic racism is playing in each of these policy areas. In this way, policies such as reparations may play an important role in addressing this issue as well.

What programs or legislation would you support to meet the water needs of all Californians?
Answer from Fatima S. Iqbal-Zubair:

Given our location and the reality of climate change, water needs are paramount across California. We both need to conserve water and we need to ensure everyone has access to safe, clean drinking water. For some of these issues, we already have policies that have been adopted and enacted, but that are not necessarily being properly implemented or evaluated. We need to increase audits and evaluations of local implementation of policies. For example, while it is currently mandated that many city governments test water sources in schools at least once per year to ensure the water is still healthy for drinking, many do not. This is particularly harmful in low-income communities - predominantly Black and Latino - that tend to have older buildings and fewer financial resources. Many times the pipes may not be up to code, and that results in unsafe drinking water for children. Similarly, groundwater sources can often become polluted from toxic waste or runoff; monitoring these is equally important. Figuring out how to use technology and other auditing techniques to ensure we are following existing laws is one program I would support.

 

In addition to monitoring the health of drinking water, we also must focus on water conservation and management. With decreasing snow melt and precipitation throughout the year, our water stores are more under pressure than ever. We must enable drought planning across municipalities while also figuring out how to incentivize and normalize water efficiency and conservation measures. From recycling greywater as possible to reducing individual and corporate water use, we must figure out how to reduce and reuse our water.

To reach a goal of carbon neutrality by 2045, as set forth in a 2018 executive order what, if any, proposals, plans or legislation would you support?  Please be specific.
Answer from Fatima S. Iqbal-Zubair:

I believe we need to aim to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. California needs to take drastic measures to be prepared for the future impacts of climate change. We must boldly and proactively pursue a Green New Deal for California. The passage of a bill is not enough, however: it needs to be implemented fully through meaningful actions with strict oversight at the community level to ensure corporate compliance. The state must focus more on environmental racism: communities of color, especially Black and Latino communities, are disproportionately impacted by environmental harms such as toxic waste, water contamination, and pollution and their associated health effects, such as increased asthma rates. California should take the following actions immediately: (1) Ban all new fracking and oil drilling, (2) Immediately begin building the green infrastructure needed to transition in all communities, starting with the communities that are most impacted first. This can be done by first taking advantage of empty lot space to build solar factories, or increased green space (3) In cases of communities affected by fires, create a rapid response plan for early notification and evacuation for residents (4) Make sure all new affordable housing built uses sustainable materials, including being powered by renewable energy and is built near to where people live and work 5) Make all public transit free 6) Severely increase limits cap and trade on refineries 7) Maintain a 2500 buffer zone between toxic sites and residential areas 8) Immediately shut down oil pumps less than 20 feet from residential areas and schools 9) Ensure that no school has unclean water 

I would ensure that communities most harmed by environmental racism will benefit from climate adaptation efforts: as Assemblywoman, I will make sure that legislation ensures new climate adaptation policies will be applied in and with impacted communities first. In addition, I realize that transitioning to green energy infrastructure, ensuring clean water, having access to clean food, and building sustainable affordable housing may not be easily affordable to low-income neighborhoods and cities; therefore, I believe that the State should equitably provide financial assistance to these communities that need it the most, but that can’t afford it. Additionally, incentives to start new green businesses should be given to community members who want to start a business. This investment will pay off for the community, as well as the state, as it will boost the economy locally and state-wide, raising employment, bettering public health, and housing the homeless.

According to the California Legislative Analyst’s Office, we spend over $81,000 per individual who is incarcerated.  Other than incarceration, what ways can the State address safety and justice?
Answer from Fatima S. Iqbal-Zubair:

Addressing safety and justice requires us to first acknowledge and reckon with the underlying realities of systemic racism and inequity. Acknowledging the way that systemic racism has created and continues to perpetuate our incarcerated state will be crucial for understanding underlying policies we can create and alternatives we can provide to prisons. There are numerous individuals, activists, and community groups already leading the way in transformative and restorative justice that we can and should learn from, seeking their advice and expertise to how to best incorporate principles they have learned through their decades of advocacy and work on the matter. In addition, part of the work of understanding systemic racism in the carceral state is understanding that incarceration in its current form is not about safety: it is about inequity. Policing & Incarcerating more people does not make us more safe; if anything, it corrodes relationships and communities while perpetuating intergenerational trauma, lessening our collective safety. We need to rethink how we train our police, the use and necessity of guns for all policemen and mandatory body cams. Safety ultimately comes from relationships. Investing in community measures that build relationships - rather than supporting policies that further segregate or imprison people - will be critical to establishing safety and justice.

 

Other policy arenas play critical roles in achieving safety and justice. A stronger, more empathetic education system with great resources and  ample after school programs could help eliminate the school-to-prison pipeline, by giving students something to inspire towards and hope for. More robust housing policy can reduce homelessness and many of the crimes and unsafe situations associated with it. Universal health care access, including mental health care, could help thousands of people get access to quality, necessary mental health treatments, reducing the number of people imprisoned for untreated illnesses. A Green New Deal could help create a just economy, creating quality, living-wage jobs for thousands of people, reducing circumstances that allow for crimes of poverty. We know the roles that socioeconomic status, mental health, and numerous other factors can play in crime: we must address those at the root of our policies focused on safety and justice. California should also consider looking into policies of reparations to address some of the intergenerational harm and trauma that has been perpetuated by the history of slavery and systemic racism against Black people. While not enough on its own, it could be an important part of a healing journey that is necessary for us to achieve true safety and justice. 

Who gave money to this candidate?

Contributions

Total money raised: $64,598

Top contributors that gave money to support the candidate, by organization:

1
Employees of Simqam LLC
$4,700
1
Employees of Westmont Hospitality
$4,700
2
Employees of University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
$2,020
3
Employees of Tuscanny Villa
$1,000
4
Employees of Citigroup
$503

More information about contributions

By State:

California 77.31%
Texas 18.48%
New York 1.48%
Virginia 1.12%
Other 1.61%
77.31%18.48%

By Size:

Large contributions (91.29%)
Small contributions (8.71%)
91.29%8.71%

By Type:

From organizations (0.34%)
From individuals (99.66%)
99.66%
Source: MapLight analysis of data from the California Secretary of State.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

I believe that being a public servant is a position of honor, and should be treated as such- it means that every public servant should act with morality, accountability, transparency, and humbleness, even when there are no cameras present. Moral fortitude is a far greater tool to have than even decades of experience. Experience may teach you the ins and outs of Sacramento and negotiating for a bill that could pass and be signed into law, but moral fortitude,empathy and being connected to people over profits will allow you to believe in a cause so much that you will fight for it like your life depends on it. It means that you will put your own self-interests aside to work with others and across the aisle, but also to call legislators out who may be clearly tied to special interests. It means that you won’t rest until justice in any policy you are fighting for is achieved. This spirit, to me, is what we need more of in politics.

 

Being a true public servant means that the politics of people matters more than establishment interests and special interests- I believe that in the richest state in the nation, there should be noone without a home, healthcare, a good public school, access to higher education and access to clean air, clean water and clean food. It is not impossible to accomplish as long as public servants are constantly rooted in and listening to the voices of their community. Noone knows best the problems and solutions needed more than the people that have been on the frontlines advocating and fighting for themselves and their families. Then the job of a public servant, is to take these community voices up and react with legislation that matters and that will create change. This is what is foremost the most important part of being a public servant. 

Position Papers

Fatima's Vision for Public Education in California (Part 1)

Summary

The goal of the Fatima Iqbal-Zubair for Assembly 2020 campaign is to lay out a vision for making California's education system the best in the world. "Best in the world" isn't a rhetorical device, we believe California has the capacity to become the global leader in education. This year, we were able to vote against the multi-million dollar private prison industry. We are clearly changing our priorities and we need to have much of the extra funding be put towards public education. A good public education system creates a more informed electorate and therefore  is the root to change many of the wrongs that we see in society. This document is the first step in articulating that vision. Implemented all together, the following proposals represent a true revolution in educational policy and would set the stage for California to lead the world in the way public education is supposed to serve a community. This entry contains the changes to public schools that need to be seen from the systemic level

 

The document breaks the Iqbal-Zubair plan into three levels of reform: the systemic level, the school level, and the classroom level. For sake of space, we have only incuded only our complete plan for system and the partial plan for school level. Please check out the complete plan at our website.

Reform the system

California's education system is being held back by several systemic issues that make any meaningful reform impossible until they are addressed head on. This section lays out those problems and proposes solutions.

 

  1. Schools in low income Latinx and Black communities need to have massive funds reallocated to them.

The Problem: It is clear that there is more wealth in communities that have increased college graduates versus those that don’t. Lack of funding isn't a complicated problem to explain, but it's important enough to be the first problem mentioned here because if it isn't addressed the rest of this document is irrelevant. Raising performance at any level, let alone building a system so good the rest of the world uses it as a model is going to require massive financial investment. This investment needs to be higher in communities that need it in order to be truly equitable and reach our goals as a state.

The Solution: This campaign proposes three ways of raising extra revenue. The first is supporting the repeal of Proposition 13 for commercial businesses worth more than 3 million dollars. The second way is bond measures for the aspects of this plan that involve one time investments in infrastructure. The final way is raising taxes, especially on millionaires and billionaires. The conventional wisdom has been that California voters will revolt against tax increases, but the political make-up of California has changed. Voters are willing to consider raising taxes on themselves if it's in service to fixing a problem they consider a high priority. I also support the Schools & Communities First Act, as a phenomenal start to raising the revenue we need.  We need to fight to market public education as a high priority.

 

  1. Teachers in low income communities need to be paid at least $60,000.

The Problem: In the United States, teachers are not valued. Teachers earn 19 percent less than comparable professionals (Economic Policy Institute). Many teachers have to take on an additional job just to be able to live. In low income districts the gap is even worse. In our district particularly, this leads to high turnover rates (where teachers quit or go to other districts which pay more) and teacher shortages which severely impacts students. 

The Solution: All public school teachers need to be paid a minimum of $60,000.

  1. All charter schools should be phased out.

The Problem: Charter schools promise access to better education on paper, but they make the entire system worse in practice. They're hotbeds of theft and fraud, they drain funding from public schools, they're governed by corporations and backed by billionaires, and if they do succeed in delivering better education to some students the model doesn't scale up to help everyone. 

The Solution: California's lukewarm efforts at reform aren't enough. We need to get California on a path to ending charter schools entirely. It first starts with requiring all charter schools to be unionized so teachers can be treated fairly across the board). It also means banning the creation of new charter schools immediately and then phasing out the charter schools that already exist in such a way that doesn't interrupt the education of students who are already enrolled in them, but also phases them out entirely once those students graduate. A few already existing charter schools may be allowed to dissolve their charter, and transform their school to be a public school in the public school district.

  1. The social, emotional and academic needs of our special needs students are 100% met.

The Problem: The true nature of a public school is that it should be capable of serving every student that walks through its doors. However this isn’t happening in all of our public schools, due to lack of teacher and aide training. This causes students to be pushed out of public schools because the school feels unprepared to serve them, almost (unintentionally) operating as a charter school.

The Solution: The problem doesn’t lie with the school, it lies in how we are making sure educators  feel fully equipped to deal with every type of student. We need to make sure that an adequate portion of public education funding from the state that goes down to each district prioritizes providing high level training for all teachers to be able to differentiate amongst all of their students with special abilities. Public school districts also need to be equipped to have specialized aides that can deal with specific disabilities, such as autism, so that these services aren’t privately contracted out.

  1. Eliminate Standardized testing

The Problem: Standardized testing is a bad measurement of student and teacher performance. It's also actively detrimental to a teacher's ability to teach and students' ability to learn. Preparing for standardized tests monopolizes class time that could be spent on actual learning in order to pit students against each other in a memorization contest that reveals more about their socio-economic status than their ability to learn. 

The Solution: We can do better. In Section 3 we lay out new ways to structure classrooms and material that will put California ahead of the curve for the next hundred years. But there is no place for standardized testing in that new system, nor is there a place for it in any 21st century educational system. We should eliminate standardized testing entirely.

  1. A 1:1 ratio of each student having a tablet.

The Problem: Aside from the fact that we're literally damaging our children's spines by forcing them to carry around textbooks, this is mostly a problem of missed opportunities. Because every student doesn't have guaranteed access to the same technology it limits the ability of schools to take advantage of the potential learning resources. 

The Solution: Every student should be issued a tablet by the state that can serve as an easily portable hub for all learning materials, note taking, and supplemental resources for the entirety of their school career.  

  1. Schools are 100% sustainable spaces.

The Problem: Schools are wasteful. Paper and plastic bottles are wasted and not consistently recycled at every school. Excess food from meals are thrown away. 

The Solution: Every school needs to be equipped with the ability to recycle paper and plastics, and give excess food back to those in the community who could benefit from it. Teachers and students should teach and learn using as much technology as possible, so that paper isn’t wasted. Students should be provided with reusable water bottles that can be refilled. 

  1. Students will excel when they feel at their best.

The Problem: Low income Latinx and Black students are not at optimal physical health and many develop severe developmental and respiratory illnesses due to environmental injustices. This clearly and obviously impacts their ability to learn.

The Solution: It’s time that as a society, we start valuing our Latinx and Black students just as much as we do any other student. This begins with making sure we transition away from oil drilling and toxic sites that impact air and water quality. Oil and toxic waste sites have no business being near a school and should be phased out, but for now be 2500 ft away. When a public school is built in a low-income community it is important that all environmental codes are followed for the entire public school property.

 

 

Fatima's Vision for Public Education in California (Part 2)

Summary

This section outlines the reforms that need to be made to public schools from the school level.

Reform the schools 

Our campaign believes in the vision of the public school as a community school. Under this model, we invest in schools and campuses not simply as places of learning, but as the center and “hub” of the community itself. In this section, we lay out our vision for what every school would look like under the community model.

 

    1. Services and resources that benefit both students, parents and teachers  are given space on campus and are accessible to the community at all times. In low income communities with a high rate of trauma, and secondary trauma for teachers, this is highly vital.

    2. Every public school has active parent engagement. Parents are key stakeholders in any community endeavor, but they are not always given full access to public schools. The amount of parent engagement has been shown to directly impact the quality of the school. The school needs to help parents feel empowered.

    3. Schools in low-income communities of color need more teachers that look like them. Studies have shown that when this is the case, rates of student success in these communities are higher. 

    4. History curriculum for elementary, middle and highschool needs to be rewritten from the lens of those that were colonized not the colonizers. Every high school should have a mandatory Ethnic Studies and African American Studies course as a graduation requirement.

    5. Leadership is based on partnership. Parents, faculty and the administration work together to identify the results they want to achieve and that consensus becomes school policy. The school and what it delivers is held accountable by the community through rigorous community evaluation and feedback needs to be taken into account. 

    6. Schools become more democratic. Students, through student government, are given dramatically more power and responsibility. 

    7. Schools in low-income neighborhoods may apply to state or district grants that will allow them to bring innovative instructional pedagogies to their classrooms. Many low-income schools struggle to bring innovative instruction (such as Project Lead the Way) due to  lack of funding. These schools should be given an opportunity to apply for a grant in order to have access to these programs in their schools.

    8. Class size is limited to 33 students. Studies have shown that the impacts of consistently having large classes are detrimental for students. We currently have public schools which don’t even have tables or seats for students, and class sizes that are so large that it is impossible for a teacher to deliver quality instruction. This has to change.

    9. All schools should get training provided on the restorative justice model. This is a no-brainer to reduce the school to prison pipeline of Black and Latinx students. However I will add that restorative justice is not a quick-fix, and is a complete change in culture. While this needs to be brought to every public school, it is imperative that skilled training be provided to teachers and administrators and that time limits not be set on when all practices are fully implemented.

    10. Schools should start at later times. Study after study has shown that children learn better and are even safer with a later school start.

    11. The length of the school day should be considered. Studies do not consistently show that a longer school day leads to better academic achievement. Additionally, in our community model, teachers are seen as community leaders. In order for this to be the case, a shorter school day would allow teachers to lead more extra-curricular activities and be more present for community work outside the classroom. 

    12. Children learn best when they play. Schools should create individuals who not only achieve academically, but who come out of the school system with the socio-emotional skills and behaviors to contribute to a just society. 85% of a child’s brain develops by the time they are 5, give or take a year (depending on the child). This means that key values and behaviors are learned during this time, and we need to provide the right environment of play in order to nourish this. Pre-schools and Kindergartens need to be structured around a “learn by playing” model. Students under 7 should receive no homework for this reason.

    13. Extra-curricular opportunities are dramatically expanded. Part of this means that all schools spend Title IVB money as it is intended to be spent, not lumping it with Title I money. Especially in low-income communities, extracurriculars give children inspiration to go to and complete college. Overall, these programs allow students to figure out where their passions lie, what they care about, and what sort of adults they want to become. 

    14. All students have access to comprehensive tutoring. Study after study has shown that access to good tutoring is the number one difference maker in helping students who are falling behind stay successful.

    15. More guidance counselors are present in public schools. Guidance counselors are unable to actually follow through on their job of providing guidance because they are, on average, charged with helping more than twice the number of students it's possible for one person to oversee. We need to hire more counselors to address this.

    16. Public schools have an improvement in physical education. Having physical education that actually helps students maintain their health instead of checking a box for number of times they can run around a track with a hundred other students is an important aspect of making schools more successful. Under the community school model the nursing office would be dramatically expanded and refocused on preventative medicine. Students would receive a health check-up at the beginning of each school year that would be used to generate personalized health goals for each student. Phys-Ed teachers would be in charge of helping students follow through on those goals in a personalized way.

    17. All schools have better school lunches that are free for every student. Our school lunches are not good. They don't taste good, they aren't healthy, and nobody likes them. We propose a ground up overhaul of the school lunch system. Under our model, the district would be tasked with purchasing the ingredients in bulk. However, instead of partially or fully assembling the lunches off site, the district sends fresh ingredients to the schools where they're cooked by parents who are being paid to participate. The paid part is important because parents in low-income neighborhoods don't have the same flexibility to volunteer their time as parents in high income neighborhoods. In addition, every student deserves a free lunch.

    18. We need to schedule classes in a smart way. Giving every class fifty minutes for six periods a day isn't an effective way to budget time for teaching every subject. Some classes, like math, benefit from meeting every day for about an hour. However, English literature classes would work far better as three hour classes that meet once a week, which would give students more time out of class time to do the reading and more in class time to have substantive discussions. Other classes like Science would benefit from alternating between short lecture periods and longer lab periods. Scheduling needs to be rethought to accommodate the learning needs of each class.

    19. More skills workshops are needed. Schools should be home to educational opportunities that don't fit neatly into a classroom setting but benefit students (or their parents or members of the community). These could include workshops that teach how to:

      1. File taxes

      2. Cook

      3. Manage a personal budget

      4. Take out a loan

      5. Write a resume

      6. Shop for insurance

      7. Check if a website is telling the truth

      8. etc.

Fatima's Vision for Public Education in California (Part 3)

Summary

This section outlines the final part of Fatima's plan to revitalize the public education system: change that is needed at the classroom level.

The final place where reform needs to occur is in the classroom itself, in the way academic content is taught. The current system limits students’ ability to learn and teachers ability to teach. The following three reforms would dramatically change that and deliver far better outcomes for everyone involved.

 

  1. Culturally Relevant Lessons

We need to do away with only teaching from the textbook. Especially in our low income communities of color, outdated or even the context in which current education topics are taught are not the best way to reach our Latinx and Black students. It’s important to teach content within a context that our students will find highly engaging. This may vary from school to school, and this is part of what being a community school is about. 

  1. Mastery learning

How it works: Many subjects taught in school are cumulative. If you don’t master the content in one lesson, it's difficult or impossible to understand the next lesson. This is why the grading system needs to be changed. If a student graduates from the second grade with a "C" in math, or even a "B," they do not have a fully working understanding of second grade math and are going to struggle in the third grade. Mastery Learning presents a completely different, and far more effective approach. Instead of teaching many concepts over a period of several weeks and then testing the student on all of them at once, Mastery Learning teaches one concept at a time and then tests. If the student gets a 90% or higher on the test they move on to the next concept. If they don't, they will continue studying the concept while receiving additional instruction or tutoring help until they master it. This system allows students who more immediately understand the material to advance quickly, without being held back, while allowing students who need more help to receive that help. 

How it would be implemented: Mastery Learning, if implemented correctly, has been proven to provide wildly better results for both students and teachers. However, it would require a complete shift in how the classroom is structured. The lecture style with a teacher standing in front of a board would be mostly gone. Instead, students would work with students of skill levels. Teachers and aides would be walking around providing guidance, assistance, and perhaps small group lessons. Group learning strategies would also be used, where students who are struggling with a concept could be paired with students who already understand it. 

  1. Project-based & Interdisciplinary Teaching & Learning

Students learn best when they do the thinking and doing, rather than listening to a lecture. Teachers need to be provided with a high level of training and also consistent support in project-based methodologies, including the 5E model so that our students can maximize academic growth. Learning should also be interdisciplinary. When a child’s curiosity is piqued, their brain is not processing what subject they are engaged with, it is processing how to engage with, explore or explain what they are facing in their environment from multiple academic disciplines. 80% of jobs in the next decades will include STEAM skills- this means that these skills have to be integrated across all subjects, not just Math, Science & Art.

3.  Finally, in order for California to truly have the greatest education system in the world, we need to reexamine the basic objectives of education. Yes, the purpose of education is to communicate knowledge. But, more importantly, it's a forum where students can learn socio-emotional and thinking skills that can be widely applied to any situation for the rest of their lives. The outcome of a world class education should be the acquisition of exemplary socio-emotional, analysis and synthesis skills. In other words, students need to graduate with the ability to effectively empathize with another and to take an idea apart and put an idea together. That means de-emphasizing subjects that are heavy on memorization for its own sake and the introduction of some subjects that sharpen these holistic skills. Specifically, symbolic logic should be taught as a math requirement in middle school and every class should be organized around teaching critical analysis skills. Humanities classes that push students to use and develop their creative humanistic and problem solving skills should also be emphasized. Emphasizing these thinking skills early on will set students up to succeed in whatever field they eventually choose to specialize in later in life.

 

As mentioned, many of these policies would require California to prioritize public education, which would mean increased funding. It also means that when funding is pushed down to local school boards and public school districts, that more frequent accounts and oversight of how the school is using the money have to be delineated to the state, to hold these public education entities accountable to creating the best product for the community. However, the result would be that teachers, students, parents and entire communities would feel that the public school is serving their child’s needs and their own needs in every possible way. Implemented all together, they represent a true revolution in educational policy and would set the stage for California to lead the world in the way public education is supposed to serve a community.



 

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