As a Head Start graduate and UCLA Pell Grant recipient, I know firsthand that education is our society's greatest equalizer. As a former school board member and the wife of a teacher, I also know that, unfortunately, we still spend far too little per pupil in California, leading to ballooning class sizes, outdated books, materials, and sporting equipment, as well as schools being severely understaffed and with outdated technology. My background as a former school board member also gives me a unique understanding of the education issues we face.
We must also invest in the whole child by supporting school counselors, nurses, and trainers, creating a safe school environment where learning is possible, and expand our curriculum to include career technical education as well as earn and learn programs.
Now more than ever, California also must improve and increase investments in our world-renowned public colleges and universities so they are affordable and accessible to everyone. At a time when student loan debt has surpassed credit card debt, we need to explore ways to provide debt-free education and affordable housing to all California students at public colleges and universities. It's imperative to a vibrant economy that we reduce the achievement gap once and for all, but we must be mindful not to create a budget deficit.
Too many people in Orange County are being left behind, especially middle-class working families, as living expenses outpace wages, automation grows and part-time employment increases.
Along with investments in education, we need to make investments in job training, and small businesses so that everyone in our community is prepared to compete in today’s economy. As Mayor, I’ll continue to fight for an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top.