Monday, July 13, 2009

Protect school funding

Schwarzenegger is the problem.

We need to deal directly with the attack on school funding. In the past 6 months, school funding in California has declined from 56.5 billion to 50.7 billion . Now, the governor and the Republicans propose to set aside Prop.98 in order to cut even more.

Since the passage of Prop. 13, California’s schools have been destructively under funded. We have gone from one of the best school systems to 29th in per pupil expenditure. California’s students rank 48th. out of the states in 4th. grade reading. So , if 4th. grade reading is a predictor, then perhaps we should do something about reading such as adequately fund the schools. California has remained with the poverty stricken states since the passage of Prop.13. Remember when the ideologues all claimed that by switching to phonics reading scores were going to go up? Or, others claimed that by eliminating bilingual education would produce dramatic gains. Well- how did that work out for you?
Schools have increased class size and severely cut back on counselors thus promoting violence and drop outs. Over half of California schools are in crisis caused specifically by lack of sufficient funds.
Rather than accept the budget limitations and plan to intervene before grade 4, we should change the budget. It does not have to be this way. Voters could keep Prop.13 benefits for private home owners but use actual assessed valuation of property for corporate property- the split roll approach. Rather than simply accept that these are difficult budget times, voters favor improved funding for public education. This change to a split role approach would immediately solve our state budget crisis, and the one coming next year. Or, we could as proposed establish an oil severance tax. This is where you make the corporations pay a tax when they take our oil out of the ground and then sell it to us. Even the most conservative of states have an oil severance tax. California does not because of the power of lobbyists in Sacramento.
We need all of the children in the state well educated to have a prosperous economy. Unless we change our schools are sinking toward those of Alabama and Mississippi.
We cannot have sustained prosperity in California without decent schools, and we will not have decent schools unless we amend Prop. 13 and tell the legislature to adequately fund the schools. Or, we could remain a poverty stricken state.
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