Today: Simitian gives 'education update'

State senator will discuss school funding, legislation at event

State Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, will discuss school funding and pending legislation in an "education update" at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, in Palo Alto.

The two-hour event will be held in the boardroom of the Palo Alto Unified School District headquarters at 25 Churchill Ave.

It will be broadcast on Channel 26 by the Midpeninsula Community Media Center.

Click here and then click on the Channel 26 play button for live streaming.

People interested in attending are asked to RSVP online or by calling 650-688-6384, 408-277-9460 or 831-425-0401.

Simitian, who began his political career as a member of the Palo Alto Board of Education in the 1980s, regularly holds public updates that draw school board members, administrators and public-education advocates from Santa Cruz to San Carlos.

A member of the state Senate since 2004, Simitian sits on its Education Committee. He also chairs the Senate's Environmental Quality Committee and is a member of the committees on budget, energy, utilities and communications, natural resources and water, and transportation and housing.

Because of term limits, he is serving his final term in the Senate and has announced he will seek a seat on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors in November.

Chris Kenrick


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Posted by Martin Engel
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jan 27, 2012 at 1:16 pm

You would believe that if anyone really understands the difference between the importance of education and the funding of this high-speed rail boondoggle, it would be Senator Simitian.

The economic future of this state does not rest in the hands of the high-speed rail authority. (Thank God!) It does rest in the hands of the entire state education community, from pre-kindergarten to graduate school.

Reducing the drop-out rate, increasing STEM education (science, technology, engineering, mathematics), upgrading girls' and womens' education, and especially pre-school is absolutely critical to this state's future economic health. Current research makes that point definitively.

Meanwhile, high-speed rail is, as Senator Simitian and his colleagues know full well, a money black hole. It promises nothing but unending debt increases for this state into infinity.

Yes, the state economy, with a huge deficit and vast debt, is a zero-sum game. Funds blown on this train project are not available to shore up our slowly sinking education.

Which is it, Senator, abandonment of our most valuable natural resource and gene pool, or building a zillion dollar luxury train to be used only by the affluent, even as business travel diminishes daily?

It's your call, Senator.

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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Jan 27, 2012 at 3:29 pm

I find the outcry for local education improvements, here in an area that has the Mercedes of school systems and some of the highest scores in the nation, a bit disingenuous. Or were you suggesting that the $ saved from the rail project go to East Palo Alto or Oakland?

Not so many years ago, the Bay Area was begging for high-speed rail, and Peninsula residents spouted anti-car rhetoric. When the SV was flush, before the bust, I recall Palo Alto residents who proposed a local monorail (!!!) so that there would be no "outsider parking" in their city (bizarre)!

Now that people see that rail is coming past or though THEIR neighborhood, it's quite different.

The local politicians must get grey from the ever-changing agenda and acrimony.

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Posted by Martin Engel
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jan 27, 2012 at 4:08 pm

A long time ago, a guy I worked for, Art Wise, wrote a book: "Rich Schools, Poor Schools." That among other things, generates unequal opportunity. Let's just say that money is a necessary but not sufficient ingredient for upgrading education, from pre-K to post-grad. You know all the OECD comparative data that places US education below the middle, not near the top.

The problem is state wide. Making local distinctions is merely a piece of the problem. Given the cost-benefits of education, not only for individuals, but the economy of the entire state, this domain is wildly underfunded. California once had the best school and public university systems in the US. Now, not so much!

Meanwhile, high-speed rail, the costs for which are climbing like an oven thermometer, is the worst possible "investment" the state and the nation can make.

Finally, all I'm saying to our elected representative, is money voted for the train won't be available for education. And the proper choice is clear. Of course, the political choice is far less clear!

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