Delaine Eastin, former California State Superintendent and a candidate in California's 2018 gubernatorial race, spoke at Pomona College Monday, March 27. Her campaign slogan represents the thrust of her speech: “Budgets are statements of values. We can do better.” Eastin specifically focused on the importance of reinvesting in public education.
“We became who we are as a nation, as a state, because of education,” Eastin said during her talk. “[As governor], I’m going to fight for children and their education, from preschool to grad school.”
Nine percent of California’s budget is devoted to corrections and rehabilitation, while 12 percent is allocated to higher education. Eastin called this “disgraceful.”
Eastin, who served as state superintendent from 1995 to 2003, was invited to campus by Young Progressives Demanding Action, a 5C group that is “fighting for justice at the local, state, and congressional level,” according to their Facebook page. Although YPDA has not endorsed Eastin, the group thinks her platform reflects their values, according to member Ian Schiffer PO ‘17.
“Education should be at the forefront of politicians’ verbiage and actions,” Schiffer said.
Yolanda Varela Gonzalez, a Pomona Unified School District teacher, introduced Eastin, whom she called an “education warrior” in the face of an “overwhelming attack on public education.” Varela Gonzalez alluded to other gubernatorial candidates as having “cozied up” to privatized education.
Eastin is committed to universal preschool, class-size reduction, career and technical education, and affordable college tuition. As superintendent, she reduced K-3 class size and formed the first state department of education LGBT task force “to foster safer and more welcoming school environments for LGBT students at all grade levels.”
In addition to education reform, Eastin shared her dedication to creating affordable housing, investing in public transportation, and protecting the environment. She alluded to the “thuggery” of President Trump’s administration, and called for the state to “lock arms to protect all of California’s people.”
Eastin’s talk was well-received by the audience.
“A lot of points resonated with me, and were reassuring,” Natalie Casey PO ’17 said. “I was glad to hear a politician talking about education and the school-to-prison pipeline, versus just hearing about them in class.”
YPDA member Kamil Lungu PO ’20, who helped organize the event, hoped students walked away from Eastin’s talk trusting that “we can fix the systems we have in place. With hope, hard work and education,” he said, “we can make change.”
Seven candidates have announced that they will run for governor in the Nov. 2018 election. At this point, Eastin is the only woman in the race. She hopes that students will form the “backbone of her campaign.”
“I’m fighting to bring this state alive again,” Eastin said, “for the future, for our children, for our grandchildren.”