School did not always come easy to Gavin, but thanks to the perseverance of his mother, and the dedication of his teachers, they finally named the problem – dyslexia. His dyslexia led him on a unique educational journey, one of self-pace and self-discovery. It’s what he needed to help him learn and it’s shaped his thinking today: Gavin believes that every student in California deserves the same opportunity to achieve success.
As Governor, Gavin is calling for the California Promise, a new way of thinking about education as a lifelong pursuit. He believes that our role begins when babies are still in the womb and it doesn’t end until we’ve done all we can to prepare them for a quality job and successful career.
Studies have shown that 85 percent of brain development occurs within the first three years of a child’s life — these key early years are the foundation of every child’s future potential. To create a strong foundation of educational success, Gavin believes we must expand proven programs that support the health and wellbeing of our state’s babies and their families, including prenatal and developmental screenings, family nurse visits and affordable, high quality childcare. Gavin believes in the promise of universal preschool, equipping all of California’s children with the tools to succeed when they start kindergarten. Our early childhood strategy must also include expanded family leave because a parent should never have to choose between keeping a job and taking care of their newborn child. Investment in the first three years pays off: Students who participate in early education programs have been shown to have fewer interactions with the criminal justice system, achieve greater educational outcomes, and go on to have successful careers.
In addition to giving California’s students a strong start through early education, Gavin believes all students should progress through their academic careers knowing that college is within reach. As Governor, Gavin will launch college savings accounts for every incoming kindergartener across the state, linking the next generation to the promise of higher education. This foundation will help families, regardless of their zip code, plan a bright future for their child.
Gavin believes in the promise of community schools to anchor our neighborhoods with the comprehensive opportunities kids need to stay in school and get ready for the world of work: wellness centers, to address children’s physical and mental adolescent health needs, arts education, technology classes and computer science for every child, after school programs, after school and summer learning programs, and true public-public partnerships. California has long been a leader in supporting after school programs, and now serves over half a million children in low income communities each day. Gavin understands the importance of after school programs in closing the opportunity gap, and believes in extending this support throughout the year, by investing in summer programming. Summer programs are critical to keeping California’s students on track to high school graduation by combating summer learning loss and helping reinforce what students have learned throughout the year.
California is the tech capital of the world, but we've failed to align our education system to meet this economic opportunity. The state is home to over 68,000 open computing jobs with an average salary over $100,000 that we can’t fill with California public school graduates. Meanwhile, only a quarter of California's high schools offer computer science. And sadly, that disparity is punctuated by striking gender and racial gaps. Of the 10,244 California high school students who took the AP Computer Science exam in 2016, only 27% were female. Only 1,487 were Hispanic or Latino and only 146 were black. That is unacceptable. We have a lot of work to do to make sure every student in every school has equal access to computer science and the opportunities it opens up. Computer Science for All is an economic and equity imperative. Arkansas is well on its way to requiring computer science courses in all high schools. California should be leading the way with them.
Unlike U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, we will attract teachers, not attack teachers. Our state faces an acute teaching shortage, particularly in special education, bilingual education and STEM. A full 75% of California’s school districts reported experiencing a teacher shortage last year. While this is a widespread problem, Gavin understands that California communities with greater proportions of students of color and students living in poverty have been especially impacted by both shortages and high rates of teacher turnover. For California students to succeed, Gavin understands we must keep quality teachers in the classroom. As Governor, Gavin will develop and encourage state and local incentives to attract highly qualified candidates into the profession, and will improve educational outcomes and teacher retention by investing in teachers as the professionals they are.
In California, and across the United States, education opens the door to opportunity, which is why Gavin is laser-focused on restoring the access, affordability, and quality of our state’s public higher education system. He is passionate about community colleges, and believes they are the backbone of our economy and one of our most effective tools for upward mobility. That’s why his California Promise initiative will guarantee two free years of community college tuition, create pathways to quality jobs and reduce debt for students pursuing a bachelor’s degree. The sad reality is that many students leave college with debt levels that would finance a home mortgage. Many don’t finish college at all because of the cost our education system puts in front of them. The California Promise will help more students to become college-ready and bolster efforts to support our students, because enrolling is only half the challenge: graduating is the key. The community colleges, Cal State, and University of California segments operate in their own silos, which is why Gavin will create a new higher education coordinating council to set bold statewide goals and hold institutions accountable to them. We need to expand access, improve affordability, bolster transfers and completion rates — and link financial incentives to clear student outcomes. Technology is radically changing the world and the future of work. The state has been flat-footed in its response to uneven income growth and Sacramento has under-invested in higher education. We can and will change that.
While college may not be the right choice for every Californian, Gavin believes all Californians deserve the opportunity to secure a good paying job. As Governor, he will encourage businesses to become creators, not just consumers of talent by partnering with our community colleges and establishing 500,000 earn-and-learn apprenticeships by 2029, creating a new vocational education pipeline of high-skill workers. In an increasingly global world, apprenticeships provide the education and training necessary to prepare Californians for the jobs of today and tomorrow. These unique partnerships between business, labor, government and the educational community expand opportunity for Californians in growing sectors like advanced manufacturing, energy, health, information technology and hospitality.
As Governor, Gavin will reassert California as an education data leader. The public deserves to know whether all students, regardless of background, have access to good schools and equitable funding. Gavin knows this transparency will enable educators to better tailor supports and remove barriers to opportunity. Gavin will connect our early childhood, K-12 and higher education data systems so that we can best serve California’s students as they progress through their education.