Ben comes from a family deeply rooted in public education. Ben’s parents have been life-long public educators. His mother taught Spanish at Beverly Hills High School, and his father spent his career as an English professor at UCLA. Ben’s brother is a Director at the Center for Healthier Children, Families, and Communities at UCLA, and his sister-in-law is a Spanish teacher at Santa Monica High School. Ben is a product of local public schools (K-12), a former University of California Regent, current School Board Member, and has been teaching Education Law and Policy at UCLA Law School for the past three years.
- Early Childhood Education
Key to the strength of our educational system is the investment we put into our children at the start of their academic journeys. Ben is a strong believer in the importance of high-quality early childhood educational opportunities for children, and has been involved with efforts to expand access to early childhood programs during his two terms on the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s Board of Education. His School Board tenure includes serving as the Board’s liaison to the District’s Child Development Services Department and Committee as well as supporting the development of Santa Monica’s groundbreaking Cradle-to-Career Initiative, a long-term collaboration of over 30 partners, which develops a data-driven strategy for analyzing educational, health, and social factors that pave the way for healthy development and future career success of all children in our community.
Ben would like to increase statewide investments in early childhood programs that emphasize physical health and well-being, cognitive development and strong preparation for academic achievement, social competence and comfort, and emotional maturity and mental health.
- Quality Public Education
California’s public school system struggles to perform at the highest levels given California’s alarming poverty rate and meager investment in per-pupil spending, roughly half of what states like New York, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Vermont spend per pupil. Ben supports efforts to help local communities raise revenues more easily for their schools. He also supports modest reforms that will increase accountability and academic outcomes.
Ben believes that the mainstream school system can and should learn from the best charter schools, while underperforming charters also need to be held accountable.
Ben also wants to find ways to encourage more of California’s best and brightest into the teaching profession. Ben has proposed that students who finish in the top 5% of their graduating class should have the opportunity to attend a California public college or university on a full merit scholarship in return for successful completion of a teacher credentialing program and a five-year commitment to teaching in California’s public schools.
Ben’s dedication to public education is evident in his work for affordability and access at the University of California and in his service on the School Board of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, one of the most successful in California, where he has served as a Board Member and President over the past six years. During the nation’s most difficult economic climates since the Great Depression, Ben has worked with parents and teachers to achieve great results for students from all backgrounds:
§ Protecting career-technical education programs from budget cuts to ensure our kids are prepared for the jobs of the future;
§ Launching the Spark Program in Los Angeles, connecting disadvantaged middle school students with apprenticeships in the business community;
§ Leading the charge to fully fund core educational programs while helping to raise student academic achievement and test scores across the School District, with particular gains from lower-income students; and
§ Preserving and protecting critical music, arts, library, and health programs from budget cuts. including after-school programs, healthy and affordable food options, physical education, and student access to psychologists, counselors, and social workers.
- Affordable Higher Education
Ben Allen knows that California’s public college and university system is one of the best investments the state has ever made. He has studied and taught both in the community college system and the UC system. As our next State Senator, Ben will ensure that any determined Californian who works hard will be able to afford a high quality college education.
As a UC Regent, Ben pushed through a successful measure strengthening tuition affordability and loan forgiveness in the UC’s professional schools and fought against fee increases and for increased funding to higher education. Ben has also taught in our community college system, which provides a gateway to success for students of all backgrounds.
California’s investment in public higher education has paid off in so many ways, from creating avenues of social mobility, to the great successes of Silicon Valley, to the extraordinary research in social science, to the work of scholars and teachers who inspire the next generation’s imaginations to soar through the study of the arts, literature, and history. We need to restore the promise of Governor Pat Brown’s 1960 California Master Plan for Higher Education.