Assemblywoman holds education talk

Some Tri-Valley residents and school officials took the chance to pick the brain of State Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo) on education issues last week.

"The problem with education in California is we don't fund anything adequately. It's a huge issue," Buchanan said during the workshop held in the Pleasanton Unified School District board chambers on March 6.

Approximately 20 people attended the 1.5-hour discussion, including district administrators, teachers, school officials and parents.

Buchanan typically travels to local school districts during the state budget-preparation process, but the conversation this year focused primarily on overarching education issues.

"I think the real problem in education is not a teaching problem and it's not the laws we have there; it's a leadership problem," the assemblywoman said.

Buchanan said she's currently working to address a number of education topics in the Assembly, including making kindergarten mandatory, implementing full-day kindergarten throughout California and a potential statewide school facilities bond measure.

"You can raise the gas tax and get more money for roads. I can't charge kids to go to school, and so education is an arm of state government," she said about the need for alternative education funding options, such as a statewide bond.

Other topics the assemblywoman touched on included funding for special education, the need for more professional development time for teachers and reworking the student assessment system.

"Where I think we're doing a tremendous disservice to poor kids is this narrowing of the curriculum and making the test the whole goal of education," Buchanan said. "We've got to teach our kids how to learn."

The Common Core State Standards -- which promote curricula with emphases on critical thinking and depth of understanding -- could be part of the solution, she added.

"If all of us came in on a Saturday morning, I'd be willing to bet you we'd come up with a pretty good idea of what a quality education should look like," the assemblywoman said. "And from there, all you're then doing is applying cost factors. But I think until we do that, we've got a problem."


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Posted by kids first
a resident of Danville
on Mar 13, 2014 at 5:42 pm

The solution: start by breaking the strangle-hold the teachers' union has on CA education. Defeat the union lackeys that the union gets elected to Assembly and Senate every year, such as Joan Buchanan. She is fortunately termed out, but the union is backing Sbranti (I think that is his name) from Dublin. Don't vote for him, or Newell Arnerich. I am thinking about Glazier from Orinda.

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Posted by Valerie Jo
a resident of Alamo
on Mar 14, 2014 at 9:15 pm

Catherine Baker is the most qualified and best candidate for the Assembly ( A hard working parent dedicated to improving local schools, a volunteer leader in our community with experience helping local non-profits and small businesses succeed and a breadth of public policy experience, this Phi Beta Kappa lawyer is a down-to-earth, common sense professional who serves because she loves to and knows how to do so. I speak from experience from having witnessed her integrity and generosity over years.

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Posted by just asking
a resident of Danville
on Mar 17, 2014 at 10:36 am

@Valerie Jo: What does Baker think about high-density housing being forced by the state government into communities like Danville? I haven't heard a whit about that from any of the candidates, but their actions speak way louder. For example, Arnerich was determined to designate downtown Danville a "Priority Development Area" for high-density housing until the citizens of this community rose up at the hearings on the 2030 General Plan and stopped him. I think Glazier is also a high-density advocate and is ruining Orinda.

Does Baker have the integrity and guts to address this issue? Or will taking a stand alienate her developer friends?

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Posted by Tony
a resident of Diablo
on Mar 18, 2014 at 8:44 am

kids first. I agree wholeheartedly agree with your observations on the stranglehold public employee unions have on this state. Steve Glazer is a liberal Democrat and one of Jerry Brown's key strategists and fund raisers. Please support Catharine Baker. We need to return to a two-party system in California.

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