Mayor Kevin Johnson speaks on education

Sean Keister

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson spoke Nov. 30 at Sacramento State to address the state of education in California.

Johnson spoke to approximately 150 people at Modoc Hall for the “Campus Conversation on Higher Education” event sponsored by the Sacramento State College Democrats.

One of Johnson’s key points was encouraging people to stay in the city once they graduate.

“My job is to make sure you get educated and stay in Sacramento,” Johnson said. “It’s important to keep the talent you have.”

Johnson said when people look at where to live, they look at the quality of the elementary schools in the region. He said people would move here if Sacramento could match the quality of schools seen in Roseville and Elk Grove.

“I need people to live in the community that will improve our schools,” Johnson said.

Aaron Carr, president of the Sacramento State College Democrats, introduced Johnson and said he appreciated Johnson’s focus on education.

“He also spoke about jobs in Sacramento and he had some actual figures and ideas that seemed viable,” Carr said.

“We’ll see how well they’ll go, but I definitely liked the direction he was talking about going.”

Carr said a lot of the work to get Johnson to campus was done through Assemblyman Richard Pan’s office, with the College Democrats helping encourage Sac State to host it.

“The turnout was really good for an event like that,” Carr said. “That was the goal.”

Pan spoke after Johnson said echoing the connection between a healthy economy and education.

“I think he certainly gave a good speech that emphasized the importance of community engagement,” Pan said.

Pan has made education a priority by locating his office at Sac State, marking the first time an assemblyman has been stationed at a university in state history.

“We are proud that we are able to help our office by being on campus,” Pan said. “We want to make sure we can be a part of the campus as well.”

Johnson said he is passionate about the school system because he said a quality education leads to a healthy job market.

He said in the next 20 years there will 120 million jobs to fill in the United States, with Americans only being able to fill 50 million of those positions because of poor education standards.

“We as a country are being out-competed by other countries,” Johnson said. “We will never reach our potential if we don’t have great schools.”

Emmanuel Gale, a professor of social work at Sac State for 45 years, he said both speakers did a decent job, but felt they ignored the critical budget issues the university is facing. He said he thinks Pan should do more to fight against cuts.

“I think Pan is a decent guy who understands the issue,” Gale said. “But you have to fight.”

Sean Keister can be reached at [email protected]