By Debbie Look
Emerge CA Class of 2014
Having recently become a U.S. citizen, I am now eligible to run for office and Emerge California is equipping me with the information, tools and connections to do so successfully. My family moved to California from Canada in 2000 and faced a long and difficult process to achieve U.S. citizenship. We were lured to California by the promise of Silicon Valley and the opportunities it offered. My children thrived in the public schools they attended for middle school and high school. Both went on to successfully earn college degrees at University of California campuses. Public education has been a boon for my family.
What drives me to run for public office is that this is not the case for so many of our families. Serious inequities exist throughout our system of public education, from preschool through to college. Far too many children are living in poverty and are not afforded the opportunities offered by quality early care and education programs. Children arriving in Kindergarten without the benefit of these early learning experiences are far behind their peers in terms of vocabulary as well as pre-reading and numeracy skills. In California, a very high proportion of our incoming students are English Language Learners. We know that reading at grade level by third grade is a key indicator of future academic success and many are not meeting this benchmark.
We must all step up, for the sake of all of our children, as well as the future of our economy to ensure that all children are given the opportunity to succeed academically and to become productive and thriving citizens. Public education, although a key piece of the equation, cannot do it alone. We have to address a broad range of issues including family poverty, healthcare including prenatal care, parenting education, access to quality early care and education, as well as high quality public school facilities staffed by well-trained teachers.
I look forward to building on my experience of over 25 years of advocating for children and public education by running for a seat on my local school board and having an active voice in this important conversation.