by Duane E. Campbell
California, like most states, needs additional revenue to fund schools and to invest in the future. Our public schools are in crisis - and they are getting worse. Their decline is a direct result of massive budget cuts imposed by the legislature and the governor in the last four years. Total expenditure is down by over $1,000 per student. The result is massive class size increases. Students are often in classes too large for quality learning. Supplementary services such as tutoring and art have been eliminated. Over 14,000 teachers have already been dismissed and thousands more face lay offs .
California schools are now 47th in the nation in per pupil expenditure and 49th in class size. Our low achievement scores on national tests reflect this severe underfunding.
Of course the economic crisis of 2007 to the present caused by bankers and their lobbyists made matters worse. The state took in some $30 billion less in taxes due to the collapse and thus had less to send to the schools. School budgets have been cut by some $10 billion.
The question for the anti tax advocates and the Chamber of Commerce, and ultimately for California voters this fall, is can the economy prosper with a poorly educated work force. California grew and prospered from 1970- 1994 based upon a well educated work force. The wealth that funds our current highways, parks, universities, community colleges and jobs is based upon past public investments. Then, in the period between 1994-2008 over $10 billion in corporate tax cuts were passed making the current economic crisis much worse.
California suffers from a decade of disinvestment in education and in infrastructure. Instead of continuing our state’s once proud commitment to public education, today anti tax forces have imposed a Mississippi model on our children and our schools.
California needs to invest in roads, bridges, telephone lines, communications systems, parks, clean energy and quality education. These are the down payments that make prosperity possible. Republican opposition to any new tax ignores the undeniable historic fact that prosperity depends upon having a viable educational system and a well functioning infrastructure.
As Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said, "Taxes are what we pay for civilized society.''
Duane Campbell is a Professor (Emeritus) of Bilingual/Multicultural Education at CSU-Sacramento and the author of Choosing Democracy; a practical guide to multicultural education. 4th. edition. (Allyn and Bacon, 2010) and Chair of Sacramento Democratic Socialists of America.
Published in Sacramento News and Review. 4/19/2012.
For teachers, If you don't support taxes, who do you think pays for public schools?