California Educator

August 2014

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Advocacy Profi le S TAT E S E N . M A R T Y B L O C K represents Senate District 39, which includes most of the city of San Diego. Members tell us they like reading this feature every month. Thank you for your comments! If you have a legislator you'd like the Educator to interview, email What did you do before becoming a lawmaker? I started out as a junior high school history and social studies teacher in Skokie, Illinois. I was there during the threatened neo-Nazi march through that town, targeting many Jewish residents who were concentration camp survivors. It was a teachable moment for engaging my students in a discussion of competing constitutional rights: those of the residents to be free from reliving past horrors, and those of the Nazis to assemble and speak freely despite the consequences for the audi- ence. I also went on to study and practice law before moving to San Diego. I taught at San Diego State University and served as a dean in the College of Education. What led you to run for offi ce? My education students at San Diego State convinced me to run as a trustee for the San Diego County Board of Education, and I thought I could make a difference. I won, and I learned a great deal about K-12 administration, which helped round out my knowledge of California's public education institutions. I also learned a great deal about governance, and that much of what we wanted to accomplish for students was also dependent on Sacramento. That in turn led me to run for the San Diego Community College Board of Trustees and the state Legislature. What steps should the Legislature take to help schools succeed? We need to listen more to those on the front line — to teachers, to parents, to students. Who better to give us advice? They are the individuals most affected by the actions of the Legislature. As chair of the Senate Budget subcommittee that deals with state education funding, I feel that the Local Control Fund- ing Formula is an important step forward in shifting decision-making from Sacramento to those closest to the classroom. We also need to ensure that funding is indeed supporting student achievement. The state doesn't need to micromanage local districts and schools by mandating one cookie-cutter route to student success, but it does need to ensure that students are moving forward and that public funds are well spent. At the sta te level, we must provide relia ble and adequa te funding f or schools. Adequa te funding doesn't guarantee quality educa tion, but it does make a tremendous dif ference in the chances f or success. After several years of devasta ting cuts to educa- tion, we're finall y beg inning to restore some of the cuts suf fered b y our students and schools. Our teachers and families deser ve the sta bility and support the y need to once a gain ha ve Calif ornia take its place as an educa tion leader. Meet SENATOR MART Y BLOCK What are your hopes for public education? I have three hopes. First, that every student, no matter their ZIP code or special needs, receives the educational opportunities and as- sistance necessary to succeed from pre-K to postgraduation. Second, I hope that schools receive the stable and adequate funding our students require. Third, I hope that as a state and nation we come together to find com- mon ground on the issues that have divided us about teacher and school accountability, Common Core, and the role of technology. What advice would you give educa- tors about working with legislators? Good question! As with any other meeting or presentation, remember to do your homework about the issue, be specific about the prob- lems and possible solutions, be succinct, and work not only with the member but also with the member's staff. 34

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