Investing in Our Youth
Making Youth Our Priority
While the Mayor must always focus on direct city services, a mayor must also do much more. I will be an education mayor and a leader who speaks loudly with and for our youth. Why? The city cannot fulfill its core missions if its schools are not preparing students for college or a career. The city can never spend enough on public safety if young people are idle and believe they have no opportunity.
It Begins with Preschool
Investing in our children and youth begins with ensuring they have access to quality preschool. Studies have shown numerous benefits from preschool, including most immediately, improved reading and math skills in elementary school and then down the line, attending preschool makes a child 40% more likely to graduate from high school. Even longer term, a child who attends preschool is likely to have fewer contacts with law enforcement and earn a higher income as an adult.
As the Senate leader, I pushed for universal preschool for every four-year-old in California. Ultimately, we were able to compromise with the Governor to secure $264 million to increase preschool slots for California’s lowest income children. As Mayor, I will push for preschool opportunity for every four-year-old child in Sacramento. We will pull together funding from multiple sources including fees from those who can afford to pay for their preschool.
…Continues with Afterschool Programs
Investing in our children does not stop with preschool. We must continue to support learning with afterschool programs. On the City Council, I founded Sacramento START, a comprehensive afterschool program to help our most challenged students improve their test scores. Today, START is a model after-school program statewide.
Since my time on the City Council, as a result of recessions and other priorities, our commitment to youth in Sacramento has significantly decreased. This must change. We need to spend more on youth and better address the unmet needs of youth, especially those at-risk.
I am supporting a June ballot measure to create the Sacramento Children’s Fund, a dedicated revenue stream for children and youth, projected to raise $5 million annually to help fund afterschool programs that support learning, technology-focused programs, as well as summer programs that prevent summer learning loss, youth violence and tie into gang prevention programs. It may not be perfect, but it demonstrates a tangible commitment to the youth of our community.
This still is not enough. The city must find room in its budget to make youth programming a higher priority, with a focus on joint use and programming with Sacramento’s school districts. As Mayor, I will immediately convene a joint meeting between the City Council, Board of Supervisors, and city school districts –– including students––to develop a community wide joint use facilities and program vision for our city and its youth.
Bring Back the Modern Definition of Vocational Education to Sacramento’s High Schools
A Mayor must work to ensure that 16- and 17-year-olds have real life work experience consistent with their interests and career goals. We need to transform the high school experience by integrating academic rigor and career relevance to connect students with Sacramento’s emerging high wage economy. As the Senate leader, I spearheaded an effort to reestablish connections between employers and K-12 schools to improve graduation rates and student readiness for college and the workforce. My work brought millions of dollars to Sacramento area schools in the first round of funding.
As Mayor, I will work with our schools and businesses to ensure our youth are getting the training to transition into the qualified workforce Sacramento employers need and Sacramento residents seek. We must work with Sacramento City College, Sacramento State University, and UC Davis to connect high schools and community colleges to pathways that prepare students for college or employment. By doing so, we will form a more direct pipeline for Sacramento’s young people to productive high wage jobs.
I started my public service fighting for our youth, and I will continue to do so as Mayor.