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With a Focus on Jobs, We Can Make Education Worthwhile

An op-ed from Phil Ting, a State Assembly candidate for the new District 19, which includes part of Westborough and Sunshine Gardens neighborhoods.

 

Our education system is in trouble.

You’ve probably heard of Props 30 and 38 – two different ballot initiatives that would raise income taxes or the state sales tax or some combination of both. The talk about them may seem overdramatic at times, but it’s for good reason: if both propositions fail to pass, our public schools will face an automatic series of $5.5 billion in cuts.

I encourage you to vote for whichever Proposition you agree with or, if you do not have a strong preference, for both. The worst-case scenario is that our schools go largely unfunded. At this crucial moment, we cannot demonstrate an unwillingness to make small sacrifices for the collective benefit of our students.

Still, both of these measures are only short-term solutions to a much greater problem. It’s all well and good to put our students through K-12 education, to encourage them to attend college, and to applaud them on graduation day. But how can we make education worthwhile in today’s economy? If we are going to fund our education system, it has to train our students for 21st century jobs.

We have to ensure that those jobs are available. Students are pouring into our schools and colleges to get the qualifications they need for jobs, and unemployment is unfortunately still a concern. As we work to ensure that young Californians obtain their degrees, we cannot let a shortage of job opportunities leave them behind.

Education is important, but we need jobs so that students can use their education and experience the reward that comes from their years in school. My data has shown that education can boost the economy precisely because businesses want to come to areas with skilled workers. Our next job is helping to draw those businesses to California, stimulating local economies with new growth.

That’s why I’ve been a strong supporter of ChinaSF, an initiative whose goal is to increase business exchange between China and the SF Bay Area. As a result of ChinaSF, San Francisco has attracted 13 new employers and created over 150 new jobs. And that’s just the beginning.

My passion for job creation is also why I launched GoSolarSF, SF’s solar energy incentive program, which quadrupled the number of solar roofs in San Francisco and created over 450 new green jobs. The number of solar companies grew from 2 to 30, which means that San Francisco has a solid foundation to keep setting the bar for green improvements across the country.

As Assessor-Recorder of San Francisco County, I keep an eye on the job situation in the Bay Area. A little while ago, I released data indicating that San Francisco is seeing growth in the Internet and biotech sectors. I intend to act on that information by pursuing initiatives that keep creating employment in those areas.  With sustainable jobs available, our students’ education will yield even more of an economic payoff.

Let’s keep these things in mind as we decide how to fund our schools. Let’s make sure our students are trained for 21st century careers. And let’s make sure that we are actively developing an environment of local, sustainable jobs that will allow our educated students to power our economy.  As your representative in State Assembly, I would make this my top priority.    


 

Editor’s Note: Ting is running for the new State Assembly District 19, which was previously District 12. District 19 includes the northern end of Westborough neighborhood and also Sunshine Gardens in South San Francisco, as well as Daly City and San Francisco.

Ting is running against Michael Breyer.  In the primary election in June, Ting received 56.4% of the vote, and Breyer received 22%. Ting's campaign website is here.

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