Palo Alto government representatives share perspectives: District 24 Assemblymember Marc Berman



Written by Janet Wang

The Oracle (TO): Are you looking to pass legislation regarding education?

Marc Berman (MB): I’ve asked the Speaker of the Assembly to create a select committee on the 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education. It is a document that was created 57 years ago that set out the goals and responsibilities for the University of California system, the California State University system, and our community colleges. It is almost six decades later—the economy has changed, the makeup of our students has changed and our population has grown. Yet we still have this document from 57 years ago. We need to rewrite the Master Plan for Higher Education and create a 2020 Plan for Higher Education or the 2024 Plan. I hope that the speaker will approve that select committee and approve of me being the chair so I can start bringing people together to start talking about what kind of system of higher education we should have in California.

Computer science and increasing access to computer science and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education for high school students, but also K-12, is important to me. I want to make sure that there’s funding to evaluate how we can better integrate computer science curriculum into public education in California and increase access to computer science education.

TO: In a San Jose Mercury News article, you focused a lot on climate change. Why is this issue important to you?
MB: It’s the future—it’s my future, and it’s your future. We need to do everything we

can to combat climate change and reduce pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions as aggressively as possible because we can’t continue to go down the same path that we’ve been going on for decades. One of the first bills I introduced addressed sea level rise. Palo Altans live on the Bay, and my district includes five communities living on the Bay. We can’t wait until our levies are failing and our towns are flooding.

TO: What are some issues that you hope to address during your time in officce? MB: A big one that I will be addressing in addition to education and climate change are housing—increasing the supply of housing in the Bay Area and across the state. We have an incredible housing crisis that’s impacting younger generations who can’t afford to buy a home or rent a home or apartments that they grew up in. e cost of housing is impacting the socio-economic diversity in Palo Alto and many other communities in the 24th Assembly District. Another big issue is transportation—both transportation infrastructure and public transit.

TO: Why is it important for high school students to be knowledgeable about gov- ernment?
MB: The decisions we make today are going to impact you five years from now, a decade from now, even two decades from now. Almost 50 percent of the general fund budget goes toward education, which goes to you. If we don’t hear from our youth, we will assume that we know what’s best and o en times that won’t be what you think is best.