Ensuring our schools are preparing our kids to succeed is an important priority of mine as your representative in the State Assembly.


As we consider reforms to improve our schools, it is clear the status quo is not working. For years, Democrats have had near total control of education policy, pushing through dozens of misguided measures that have failed to make the grade. Their so-called 'reforms' merely imposed one-size-fits-all mandates that have handcuffed schools in our community and throughout the state and have diverted money from where it matters most - the classroom.


What do we have to show for the reforms pushed by Democrats? California students continually perform below the national average on mathematics, reading, science and writing tests. Even worse, a recent report found that our fourth-graders finished almost dead last in reading and our eighth-graders ranked near the bottom in writing last year.


This is despite the fact that we are spending a record $11,935 per student this year. Democrats want to raise your taxes even higher so they can spend more on even more bureaucracy. When states like Utah spend $3,000 less per student than California, but their students have higher test scores than ours, clearly something is wrong.


I believe it is time to take a different approach. It is clear that how and where we spend our education dollars is just as important as how much we spend.


That is why I have joined with my Assembly Republican colleagues to propose common-sense reforms that will improve education without raising taxes or worsening the state's $16 billion budget deficit. These reforms will give our local schools the freedom needed to spend more money on the classroom, empower parents and ensure that our local schools receive their fair share of education dollars.


With California facing severe budget problems, our reforms would provide much needed relief to schools by giving them the flexibility to spend existing funds on its most critical needs, not funding bureaucracy. Currently, schools have to spend a significant amount of their budgets on 62 rigid categories that tie their hands during difficult financial times. Our reforms would reduce the categories from 62 to 6, giving local schools greater autonomy to respond to the needs of their teachers and students.


Other measures would strengthen local control and give parents and taxpayers more tools to judge our students' progress by requiring the state to make all school data accessible to the public. Another reform would also give parents a "reading report card" as children prepare to graduate from the third grade, letting parents know if their kids are reading at the appropriate level.


Most importantly, we are fighting for funding fairness in next year's budget, so that all schools receive their fair share of education dollars.


Even in the midst of these lean budget times, we have a tremendous opportunity to reform education and get more money into the classroom. Best of all, we can do this without raising taxes on hard-working Californians.


I will continue to stand firm in rejecting each and every Democrat tax increase, and I will work hard to give our schools the flexibility they need to direct more resources to the classroom, rather than bureaucracy.


Assemblyman Anthony Adams, R-Hesperia, represents the 59th Assembly District which includes both San Bernardino and Los Angeles Counties in the California Legislature.