California Educator

December 2014

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By Len Feldman Meet Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez O T E R S I N C A L I F O R N I A ' S 80th Assembly Dis- trict, which is located in and around San Diego, elected Democrat Lorena Gonza- lez to represent them in 2013. She serves on key committees whose actions affect immigrants, working women and men, and children, including the Assembly Education Committee. The daughter of an immigrant f armworker and a nurse, she is a proud product of San Diego public schools. She earned her bachelor's degree from Stan- ford, her master's from Georgetown University, and her law degree from UCLA. Before becoming a lawmaker, she served as CEO and secretary-treasurer of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, AFL- CIO, the first woman and person of color elected to head the Labor Council. Gonzalez is a single mom of two children. V WHO WAS THE TEACHER WHO HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON YOU? Mr. Jim Downs, the 12th- grade AP, International Baccalaureate, world gov- ernment and history teacher at Vista High School in northern San Diego County, had the greatest impact on my K-12 education. Mr. Downs taught me it was OK to stand up for what I believed, even if I stood alone — as long as I was prepared with the arguments to support my position. I still appreciate his occasional email or note. WHAT DID YOU DO BEFORE BECOMING A LAWMAKER? I worked as a community orga- nizer and a labor leader. I also served as a senior adviser to former Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante. WHAT LED YOU TO RUN FOR OFFICE? I wanted to continue my advocacy for working people by fo- cusing on legislation to protect workers, expand educational opportunities, and rebuild the middle class. We need more policies in our state that lead to more jobs and better jobs, and a better life for all Californians. WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION? I hope we can strengthen and improve the opportunities for English learners and ensure proficiency for every single child. I also think we need to return to strong Regional Occupational Programs and vocational education programs so that all options, including apprenticeships and college, are available to all children. WHAT SHOULD LAWMAKERS DO TO HELP SCHOOLS SUCCEED? We need to create adequate funding for our schools and invest more in teacher train- ing. We also need to put an end to the culture of test-driven standards when it comes to our children's education. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE EDUCATORS ABOUT WORKING WITH THE LEGISLATORS? Let your love of children shine through. Legislator profile Advocacy 34

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