Jim Battin on Education
"We can improve schools by raising standards for students and
teachers, holding schools and administrators accountable for student performance
and ensuring students are proficient in math, science and computer skills and are
able to read, write and speak English.
Schools must be safe -- According to a recent study, 64 percent of school districts
reported an increase in violence. At the same time, 23 percent of students and 11
percent of teachers were victims of violence. We need to enforce a zero tolerance
policy for violence on campus. In the State Assembly, I supported AB 1366, a bill
that would have created a statewide Violence Prevention and Response task force for
our schools. I believe we must continue to fight hard to tackle this threat. Our
schools must be safe - We owe it to our children.
Raise academic standards -- We must expect more from our students. California is
below the national average in math and English - and in 23 of 45 other education
categories. Colleges are feeling it too - 21 percent of all CSU freshmen need remedial
math and 18 percent need remedial English. Our children deserve high standards for
English, math, science, computer science and history - and we must require that students
meet the new standards before graduation. During a special session of the legislature,
I supported SBX1 2, a bill that implemented this idea, and that measure is now law.
Thanks to this bold new law, every high school student will have to meet comprehensive
testing standards before graduating from any California high school.
Ensure California children learn to read, write and speak English -- We need to continue
to reform the failed bilingual education system by enforcing Proposition 227 and
tightening loopholes that allow the State superintendent to grant bilingual waivers
to entire schools or districts. Nearly 1.3 million (23 percent) of the students in
California schools cannot read, write of speak English effectively.
Zero tolerance for drugs -- Drug use is contributing to increased violence, lower
grades and more health problems. One in six students uses alcohol or marijuana regularly
and 26 percent of all crimes at school are related to drugs or alcohol. We need tougher
penalties and zero tolerance for the use, sale or possession of illegal drugs in
schools or at school events.
Dramatically reduce truancy -- Nearly one in 20 high school students are skipping
school every day -- and 10 percent of students will drop out entirely. We must forge
new partnerships with local police, parent-teacher organizations and schools to reduce
truancy and keep kids in school. Additionally, I have authored AB 782, which would
empower our local school boards to adopt their own truancy policies. So many of our
schools are stifled by rampant absences, local school boards must have the tools
to combat the problem.
Attract the best teachers -- California needs approximately 227,000 new teachers
by the year 2007. We need to encourage college students to pursue teaching by offering
state scholarships and tuition reimbursement programs to attract the best and brightest
Ensure teacher competence -- We need over 227,000 new teachers, but we need teachers
competent in their subject matter. A 1997 report by the National Commission on Teaching
and America's Future reported that one-half of all science and mathematics teachers
did not major or even minor in their subject matter. Teachers must pass subject matter
examinations for credential and assignment to teach particular subjects.
During the 1999 special legislative session on education, I supported ABX1 27, calling
for a major reevaluation of the California Basic Education Skills Test, the exam
every prospective teacher in California must pass in order to receive a teaching
credential. A state commission is reviewing the exam, and soon California will have
modern, challenging testing standards for teachers.
Measure progress -- We need to continue to measure progress of the system as well
as individual schools with statewide standardized testing. And we need public review
of results by publishing them on the Internet so communities can see how their local
schools are doing, and hold them accountable.
It's working in El Paso, where schools developed academic standards and the skills
students needed at each grade level. They then applied the standards to statewide
tests to measure progress. It worked: students passing basic standards tests went
from 29 percent to 53 percent in just one year. And of the 326 poor performing schools,
90 percent have increased their performance to "acceptable" or better and
only one school failed to perform after three years.
More school, fewer leaks -- 50 percent of California's schools are over 30 years
old and don't meet basic safety and earthquake standards. The California Legislative
analyst reports that California must build one new classroom a day to keep pace with
projected growth. That's why we need to see that Prop 1A - California's recently
passed $9.2 billion school initiative - is put on track and kept there.
Expand class size reduction -- One of the best educational reforms the legislature
passed recently was, SB 50, reducing class sizes in kindergarten through third grade
to 20 students maximum. In these critical grades teachers now can provide more individualized,
one-on-one instruction - and spend much less time on crowd control. We need to do
more. We must expand class size reduction to more grades, giving all our children
this advantage. I sought to address this issue with AB 783, a bill I joint-authored,
that would have reduced middle school class sizes in math and English to 20 students
per classroom, and provided the proper funding for it. I will continue fighting for
class size reductions in all grades - our children's education is at stake."
Jim Battin on the
"A healthy environment can go hand-in-hand with a strong economy. In fact, protecting
our natural resources is critical for the future of California.
Protect drinking water from contamination -- About 30% percent of the drinking water
used locally comes from ground water. The rest of the water comes from the Colorado
River and Northern California. We need to protect our water supply by strictly enforcing
rules against dumping toxic trash, sewage and other items.
That's why I authored AB 1180, the 1998 Safe Drinking Water Bond Act. The fund provided
in this bill would have brought California into line with federal drinking water
standards and allowed us to dramatically reduce groundwater contaminants such as
MTBE and perchloric acids by providing a $76 million for improvements in storage
units and treatment plants.
Protect beaches and parks -- The coastline and diverse desert habitats are two of
our greatest treasures. We must do everything we can to maintain their beauty, not
only for us, but for generations to come.
Save the Salton Sea -- Restoring the Salton Sea to it's natural splendor is a crucial
piece of Riverside and Imperial Counties' environmental stability. We must protect
the Salton Sea from pollution and depletion, and make sure future generations will
have the chance to enjoy it.
Expand the Coachella Valley Mountains Conservancy -- This vital natural habitat is
one of the centerpieces of our region, and we must continue to fight for it's preservation.
Implement a workable water transfer that protects all parties -- Water transfer issues
have been hotly debated in the 37th Senate District for a long time - but it's very
important to all members of our community that we protect the recent agreement that
recognizes everyone's rights and concerns, and delivers us the quality water we need.
I've been involved in this issue a very long time, and I'll work to ensure we get
that kind of an agreement and finally resolve this long-simmering issue.
Support the Park and Water Bond -- Earlier this year, the Legislature passed AB 18,
of which I was the principle co-author, a measure that will put a $2 billion general
obligation bond on the March 2, 2000 Primary Election Ballot. Parks and water resources
have traditionally been an integral part of California's culture and infrastructure
- but policymaker's commitment to them has waned in the last decade. Protecting our
parks and water is a vital part of California's resource preservation. We need to
pass the park bond and ensure California's crucial environmental needs are met.
Common Sense Environmental Policy -- In California, we need to stress that our environmental
policies should be based on 'scientifically verifiable evidence' - not emotion and
misinformation. I will push to make all environmental testing and data gathering
based on common sense and good science."
Jim Battin on Jobs and
"Preserve Jobs and Improve Local Economy:
Keep taxes low -- Only five states have higher business taxes than California. We
need to stop tax increases and offer incentives for long-term economic development
- like expanding carry forward and carry back tax credits for businesses who invest
in new technology or manufacturing equipment.
Reduce electricity rates -- Electricity costs in California are 50 percent higher
than neighboring states - a disadvantage when trying to retain or attract new jobs
and business. We must ensure that California's utility deregulation stays on track.
Support local Business -- Tourism generates over $4.7 billion for the economy, thanks
to places like Sea World, the San Diego Zoo, the Coachella Valley's golf courses
and the beach, to name a few. We need to fight to protect local business and fight
regulations that would harm it."
Jim Battin on Traffic
"Multi-Government Cooperation -- Reducing traffic expansion and repairing roads
and highways is critical to improving our quality of life. In the Assembly, I've
worked closely with Assemblywoman Charlene Zettel and Senator Dave Kelley to ensure
improvements on critical local traffic issues - but we must do more. Coping with
an issue as complex as traffic means bringing together a variety of local, state
and federal officials to solve the real traffic problems we all face today. As a
State Senator, I'll work to build consensus and increase government cooperation so
that we can all spend less time sitting in traffic.
Critical roads and highways -- In the Assembly, I've fought hard and expedited critical
improvements on highway I-15, totaling $14.5 million just this year. This is a major
accomplishment for traffic problems in our region, and I'll continue to work for
more traffic reforms to better serve commuters. We need to continue this and other
efforts throughout the area, such as improvements for highways 52 and 56 that are
vital to our quality of life, by working together with state and local officials
to fix "problem areas" and other areas before they become a problem.
Make roads safe, not just less congested -- It will mean very little if we all move
faster on our highways unless we do it safely. That's why I support investing in
road safety projects for our dangerous roads and highways, so that all drivers will
be safer and more secure behind the wheel."