Create better educational opportunities for our children

US Education Policy

The Education Policy of the US is not a coordinated national policy as the 10th amendment gives the power of education to the states. However, to help the states and school districts, a formal department of education at the federal level started in 1980. The department, with its $60B budget, focuses its mission on supporting the states and school districts in their efforts to provide an equal access to high-quality education to all students, and on streamlining and simplifying funding for college and expanding access to new, high-quality postsecondary options.

States fund free education up to high school and charge nominal fees for post-secondary education. Post-secondary education has generally been excellent, but K-12 education has come under critique.

For K-12 education, the state department of Education, and local School Boards control the education policy, curricula, and the administrative burden. Funding for education in California for the K-12 education comes from income and property taxes, and was about $102B in the year 2019. K-12 level education system has been criticized for providing less than quality education to the students, as they lack competitive ranking (US is 30 th ) in basic math and science education compared to many countries in the world. Many educators have argued the lack of funding as the key reason for the quality of education decline in the past 40 or so years.

Revenue and Expenses per pupil for K-12 schools in California’s Congressional District 17 th Fremont:
Exp=$10,331 Rev=$12,575
Cupertino: Exp=$10,574 Rev=$11,635
Milpitas: Exp=$10, 472 Rev=$13683
Sunnyvale: Exp=$13,572 Rev=$15,019
Santa Clara: Exp=$15,125 Rev=$21,841
California: Avg. Exp: $12, 056 Avg. Rev= $14,708
USA: Avg. Exp=$11932 Avg. Rev= $14, 146

Source: National Center for education statistics
Note: California expects the average expenditure per pupil to be around $17K in 2019.

Compared to OECD (Organization of Economic Co-operation & Development) countries, the US spends about 30% more per pupil at primary and secondary education level, and 93% more at the post secondary level. In our congressional district, schools like Cupertino and Fremont did very well despite a lower than average spending compared to California and the US. So, spending levels may be only a small reason, if at all, for the lackluster educational performance at K-12 level in the US. We have to look at other ways to improve our K-12 education system.

History of our shift to the public school system is over 100 years old. Educators have felt that all children are state responsibility, and have pushed for a large and uniform public school system. It resulted in powerful teachers unions, and large administrative burdens. Milton Friedman, a Nobel prize winner economist, argued for more choices in the schooling system, which started the Charter schools and other options. Here is a survey of its success.

In 2012, approximately 78 percent of kindergarten through 12th grade students attended the public school to which they were geographically assigned, about 14 percent attended a public school of their choice, and more than 8 percent attended a private school. In addition, among all children ages 5–17, approximately 3 percent were homeschooled in 2012, the latest year for which homeschool data are available. Satisfaction levels are the highest among private school parents, with more than 80 percent of parents saying they were ‘‘very satisfied’’ with their children’s school. Parents of children at public charter schools and public schools of choice also showed levels of satisfaction that were significantly higher than parents at geographically assigned district schools.

In today’s rapidly changing economy, it is more important than ever to prepare workers to fill existing and newly created jobs as well as the jobs of the future. However, higher education is becoming increasingly unaffordable. Furthermore, many colleges and universities fail to help students graduate with the skills necessary to secure high paying jobs in today’s workforce. Currently, far too many individuals leave postsecondary schools with unmanageable student debt and no direct connection to jobs.

Congress, in coordination with the states, must be active in meeting the above challenges. I am a very strong proponent of policies to provide multiple vocational pathways beginning in the high school that help students identify and build upon their unique strengths. I firmly believe that students need to have a full host of options, including technical schools, community colleges, ROCPs, and 4-year Colleges, all with strong apprenticeship programs.

I will propose and facilitate bills that will incentivize company apprenticeship programs, and reform the existing ineffective education and workforce development programs. This will help more Americans to obtain relevant skills and high-paying jobs. For example, apprenticeships with companies should start quickly after students join a course of study. Students will benefit from getting trained on the state of the art technology being used by the companies, get relevant workplace experiences and opportunities to develop skills that employers value. Also, this will pay partial living costs and tuition for the students. Federal matching programs can be used to
incentivize such programs. These measures will provide affordable paths to good jobs, lesser or no student debt, and ultimately, fulfilling careers.

Admissions to the educational institutions must be with total disregard to race, sex, color, and ethnicity etc. All students must enjoy a very open and equal access to education that leads to high paying jobs. All Federal incentive programs must be tied to non-quota based admissions to the colleges and universities.

My opponent, incumbent congressman Ro Khanna, believes in social engineering. He supports the extreme socialism philosophy embedded in California’s ACA 5 constitutional amendment proposals. ACA 5 favor admissions, public jobs, and state contracts based on race, color, and ethnicity-based preferences. We need to reject such discriminatory ideals. They lower healthy competition, erode societal improvements, and degrade quality of education.

For K-12 education, I will support bills that create a good balance of various public school options, charter schools, and private schools. This will result in an amazing wealth of knowledge as to which system works better and what solutions should we apply to continuously improve our educational competitiveness in the world.

If we are going to achieve educational competitiveness, we must institute a Teaching Accountability System (TAS), where performance in the teaching is measured. It must discourage below average teaching, and reward good teachers, both in their pay as well as retirement benefits. We must have smaller administrative costs for our education system, and encourage online teaching for our children. I will support Bills that introduce self-pacing curriculum to challenge all above average students. I intend to promote bills that promote accountability policies.

We must bring parents into the education system as well, as they play a very important role in instilling, in their kids, the value of a good education. They can promote the thought that the ideals of education must be broad, and include good job skills as well as balanced subjects of good citizenship. Schools and colleges should have advisory parental councils to make sure that curriculums promote un-biased philosophies of social and political thinking. I will promote federal assistance bills attached to such policies for the betterment of society.

Ritesh Tandon for California Issues
PO Box 730143, San Jose, CA 95173
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