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Congressman Mark DeSaulnier

Representing the 11th District of California

Congressman DeSaulnier Issues Education Listening Tour Report & Legislative Action Plan

October 26, 2017
Press Release

Walnut Creek, CA -- Amid repeated attacks by the Trump Administration on our students and education system, today, Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) issued the findings from his Education Listening Tour across Contra Costa County. During the tour, Mark visited every school district in California’s 11th Congressional District and met with students, teachers, parents, and administrators to hear directly about the education challenges facing the district. Congressman DeSaulnier, a member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, produced a legislative plan based on ensuring students are prepared for success in their jobs, communities, and lives.

“As a newly elected Member of Congress, I set out to hear what education stakeholders in our community believed high-quality, equitable education should look like. Spending this time in our schools allowed us to gauge the needs in real-time and informed our policy proposals,” explained Congressman DeSaulnier.

“The Republican-controlled Congress, coupled with the agenda of the President and Secretary DeVos, represents one of the most uncertain and potentially damaging environments for public education in recent memory. In order to protect the recent progress we have made in education, we will have to defend public school funding while simultaneously ensuring that all schools are held accountable for both protecting the rights and freedoms of all students and providing a high quality education,” DeSaulnier continued.

During the tour, Congressman DeSaulnier visited 18 schools, including: John Swett Elementary School, Canyon Elementary School, Buena Vista Elementary School, Stanley Middle School, Opportunity Junction, De Anza High School, Miramonte High School, Los Medanos Community College, Cal State East Bay, and Diablo Valley College.

“It's very beneficial to have the support of our politicians in our schools like Congressman Mark DeSaulnier because it shows us youth that he truly cares and it gives him a chance to see firsthand what goes on in schools today, giving us youth an opportunity to have a voice especially for those that aren't of voting age,” said Claryssa Wilson, student at Antioch High School.

"We were honored to have Congressman DeSaulnier spend time with students during their hands-on Science class. He expressed a keen interest in the Physical Science activities the 4th Graders were working on and shared with them the importance of STEM in their future and the future of California. Students were pleased to represent themselves as thinkers and problem-solvers to such an important person," said Deborah Walker, teacher at Buena Vista Elementary School.

“It was important for participants at these community meetings to feel heard and to be responded to - and they did.  Many spoke about how important it is for the schools, teachers, and students to know that their needs/concerns are being heard all way up to the federal level and being taken into consideration when the Congressman is drafting legislation and working with the Education and Workforce committee,” Superintendent Nellie Meyer.
 

Congressman DeSaulnier’s Legislative Action Plan includes the following:

K-12:

  • Reaffirm the importance of all subjects, not just tested subjects
  • Provide Special Education programs the resources necessary to support students
  • Encourage teacher retention and recruitment
  • Maintain and extend effective and robust career and technical education programs
  • Use supportive school discipline practices to create encouraging, accommodating, and effective learning spaces, while preventing students from leaving school
  • Incorporate higher order thinking skills into all classes

Higher Education:

  • Support all students in being able to afford a college education
  • Increase access to college for all who are interested
  • Support students in completing their degree programs
     

Going forward, Congressman DeSaulnier intends to let this action plan guide his work in Congress and to actively pursue fixes to the hurdles students and schools face. This includes introducing legislation, giving students a voice in Congress, raising awareness through outreach about improving affordability, access, and completion for all students, and visiting career centers, manufacturers, and technology firms in order to connect the workplace skills to curriculum—setting students up for success as they enter the workforce.

“Our education system ought to prepare students to thrive economically, socially, and emotionally in our complex global society. My hope is robust investment in education will translate to a society that demands evidence and data, rather than ideology. As President James Madison once quipped, ‘knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.’ Ensuring high-quality, affordable education for all today will translate to the highly productive workforce of tomorrow,” DeSaulnier concluded.
 

A copy of Congressman DeSaulnier’s full Education Listening Tour report can be accessed here.
 

Legislative efforts introduced by Congressman DeSaulnier are listed below:

  • Improving Access to Higher Education Act: First-ever comprehensive legislation specifically addressing the needs of students with disabilities in higher education. This bill would promote college access and completion for students with disabilities.
     
  • Family Engagement in Education Act: Awards grants to nonprofits for establishing Family Engagement Centers, while requiring states to establish plans related to strengthening family engagement in education. Research is clear that when a family participates in a child’s education, the child is more successful. Much of this bill was included in legislation that later became law.
     
  • Pell Grant Flexibility Act: Relieves the tax burden students experience when using Pell Grant funding to pay for non-tuition, college-related expenses. As we have explored, accessing higher education relies heavily on being able to afford housing, transportation, childcare, and food.
     
  • Protecting Student Athletes From Concussions Act: Requires local education agencies to create and carry out a concussion safety and management plan to decrease the number of concussions sustained and prevent any student who has sustained a concussion from rejoining their sport’s team until their safety has been assured. The lack of awareness surrounding concussions and the long-term damage that can be done to students’ cognitive abilities must be addressed.
     
  • Student Borrower Fairness Act: Ensures that the interest rates on federal student loans are no greater than the interest rates that the Federal Reserve offers to banks. The federal government should not be making money on the backs of our students.

 

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