On January 19th at the Central Public Library, the San Diego Unified Council of PTAs, the San Diego Unified school district and the United Way hosted a town hall style meeting. This was the second in a series of three meetings regarding education funding. The meeting was titled “Investing in California’s Future Part II: What it means for our Students, our Community and for San Diego’s Regional Economy town Hall Meeting”. The agenda featured a panel discussion from a diverse group of leaders in San Diego County. Among the panelists were your own Council President, Celeste Bobryk-Ozaki, Ed Hidalgo, Senior Director of Staffing, Qualcomm, Andrea Guerrero, Executive Director of Alliance San Diego, Mark Cafferty, President and CEO of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, Clare Crawford, President and Executive Director for the Center for Policy Initiatives and Gregg Robinson, President of the San Diego County Board of Education.
Here is a recap of some of the discussion.
San Diego Unified as many other school districts in the county are facing a significant funding gap (about $3000 per child) of what the school district gets versus what it feels is just enough to meet the needs of all students. California currently ranks 46th in the nation in per pupil and the increased amount of spending which is also supported by the California State PTA would still only take California to the middle of the pack nationally. The panel discussion focused on the importance of having an educated population in San Diego County. Equity was a key factor as well. As Mark Cafferty mentioned, a well educated diverse region boosts economic growth. Business needs to take a larger interest in local education. Ed Hidalgo outlined the Qualcomm Thinkabit Lab program as an example of a business working directly with schools to make sure students of today are prepared for the job force of tomorrow. Internship programs need to be expanded across the county as well. Our children in school now will be driving the economic future of our region so we had better act now. San Diego is a very diverse region so we had better make sure we nurture diversity in STEAM subjects. Discussion then went to how we get off of the roller coaster that is the current school funding system? Alliance San Diego believes we may need to look at amending Proposition 13. Gregg Robinson mentioned that the college for all idea is not really working. We need to make sure we properly educate those students not bound for the traditional four year college experience and that two-year degrees, apprenticeship, or trade school are viable goals as well. Celeste Bobryk-Ozaki emphasized to the audience that it is important to remember that we are talking about children, they are our most vulnerable population, each child is unique, and there needs to be a system that helps identify their natural attributes while the same time be provided with an education to build on skills that will help them be ready for the workforce or higher education of some kind.
Lots of ground was covered in the hour and a half discussion and it was a prime opportunity for community, business, parents and schools to speak together on the importance of quality education for the future of San Diego County. Interested in taking part in this discussion? This is the second of three town hall meetings so check in on the San Diego Unified Council of PTAs website for updates. Want to be more involved than that? Email Council Legislation Vice President Derick Boerner and he will help you jump in. Want to be more involved than that? Click here to check out what the California State PTA is doing with advocacy this year.
The third Town Hall meeting will be on March 15 starting at 6:30 pm, location has yet to be determined. The focus of this Town Hall meeting will be a review of the draft 2016-17 LCAP update and implementation of Vision 2020. Visit the SDUSD website to check for updated information.
As for the San Diego Unified Council of PTAs, a few of the board members will be attending the California State PTA’s Legislation Conference being held on March 14-March 15 in Sacramento which will also include visits with the Legislators. Celeste Bobryk-Ozaki is hoping that with the data provided by the SDUSD as well as the alignment with California State PTA’s Key Advocacy Goals that there will be meaningful dialogue with Legislators about not just asking for additional funding for Education but about Investing in California’s future.