Saturday, April 30, 2005

Protect the Students

SACRAMENTO – The California Education Coalition today launched their new website to educate Californians about the impact of Governor Schwarzenegger's broken promises on education.

The website,, highlights the fact that Governor Schwarzenegger has broken his word to California's students and schools on two fronts, by withholding $2 billion in this year's budget and by proposing changes to the voter approved Proposition 98 – changes which would eliminate the minimum funding protections for schools via his flawed "Living Within Our Means" initiative proposal. 

" is designed to be another tool in the fight against the continued attack on education funding," explained Education Coalition spokesman Roger Salazar. "It will help California parents, teachers, and students, as well as other concerned citizens, learn about the devastating impact of the Governor's broken promises on education and what we are doing to convince the Governor that our students and schools deserve better."

Governor Schwarzenegger's budget proposal underfunds Prop. 98; it reneges on his promise to our schools and students by withholding $2 billion; and will only lead to more school closures, larger class sizes, additional layoffs of teachers and school support personnel, and the elimination of key student programs.  


Thursday, April 28, 2005

The public and public education

PPIC Statewide Survey: Special Survey on Education, April 2005
Mark Baldassare

April 2005, 40 pp.

Some findings of the current survey
• The vast majority of Californians (82%) believe that the quality of education in the state’s K-12 public schools is at least somewhat of a problem.
• 59% of public school parents say that their local public schools do not receive enough state funding.
• Most Californians are more likely to say that private schools (60%) rather than public schools (24%) provide the best education.
• 78% of Californians say parents who fail to pay attention to how their children are doing is a big problem in K-12 public education.
• Parental hopes for their children’s future education are stunning. Nine in 10 aspire to college graduation for their children, and 41 percent hope that their children will earn a postgraduate degree.

This special edition of the PPIC Statewide Survey—a survey on education—is the first in a three-year PPIC survey series made possible with funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The intent of this special series is to inform state, local, and federal policymakers; encourage discussion; and raise public awareness about a variety of education, environment, and population issues facing the state.

Arnold drops in the polls

Schwarzenegger's rating drops sharply

Since January, his popularity has plunged 20 points.

By Gary Delsohn -- Bee Capitol Bureau
Published 2:15 am PDT Thursday, April 28, 2005

Just as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger prepares to sell a reduced "reform" agenda to voters, a newly released statewide poll shows the Republican governor's popularity has plummeted.

The poll from the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California found that only 40 percent of adults now approve of the way Schwarzenegger is handling his job as governor, a whopping 20 percentage point drop since January.

Among "likely voters," his approval rating was a higher 45 percent, but that fell from 63 percent at the start of the year.

Schwarzenegger aides dismissed the results as little more than a temporary slide after months of attacks from public employee labor unions and other critics of his policies.

But while Republican voters are still solidly behind Schwarzenegger, pollster Mark Baldassare said the numbers make it clear Democrats and independent voters don't like him as much as they once did.

"Since January, the governor has been less able to communicate effectively with the people, particularly outside of his party, that he's representing their interests," Baldassare said. "People on the other side have been more effective in communicating that he's not.

"Whether it's a temporary drop or a trend, it's too early to say. I think the next few months are going to be crucial."

The poll was released at a pivotal point for the governor, who must decide soon whether to submit signatures to put initiatives that many Democrats oppose on a statewide ballot.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Funding War not Schools

Fiddling While Crucial Programs Starve

Similarly, with roughly 10% of what we've spent in Iraq, we could make up the $27-billion federal funding shortfall in paying for Bush's controversial No Child Left Behind Act, which tells public schools that they will be all but scrapped if they don't improve — yet it doesn't provide the means to do so. This number comes from a lawsuit filed by school districts in Texas, Michigan and Vermont and the National Education Assn., the nation's largest teachers organization.

Sadly, these domestic failures provide a far greater long-term threat to our nation's security than the hyped-up claims surrounding our foreign adventures. Abroad, we must "support our troops" at all costs — even if the cost is their lives — while at home, the nation's leaders are all about tough love.

Has the U.S. become like ancient Rome, in love with costly conquest?
Robert Scheer

April 26, 2005

Notice the price of gasoline lately? Isn't it great that we have secured Iraq's oil? And as Congress signs off on yet another huge supplementary grant to supposedly protect U.S. interests in the Mideast, our president pathetically begs his Saudi buddies for a price break. As the fall of Rome showed, imperialism never pays.

Of course, back in 2003, conquering Iraq looked like a great package deal, what with all that oil — second only to Saudi Arabia — and the manufactured photo ops of cheering Iraqis. So what if those pesky weapons of mass destruction weren't really there? So what if no solid links to Al Qaeda are ever found? This was a win-win, as the corporate guys like to say: Not only would we be able to conduct this operation for next to nothing, we would be welcomed with flowers.

"There is a lot of money to pay for this. It doesn't have to be U.S. taxpayer money," then-Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told Congress days before the war, in testimony on the potential costs of invading Iraq. "We are talking about a country that can finance its own reconstruction and relatively soon." In the real world, however, this turned out to be utter nonsense.

With approval of the latest spending bill, taxpayers will have been forced to cough up more than $300 billion for the war to date — above and beyond the annual $400-billion Pentagon budget — and tens of billions for a bungled reconstruction. Even if the United States can lower its troop commitment to 40,000 troops in Iraq by 2010, as some Pentagon strategists optimistically anticipate, the war could still end up costing U.S. taxpayers up to $646 billion by 2015, according to Rep. John Spratt of South Carolina, the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee. If insurgency, corruption and incompetence continue to plague the U.S. occupation as they have steadily for the last two years, however, the number could surge to a trillion dollars or more.

We need to put such gargantuan numbers in some perspective. The emergency funding that the Senate passed 99 to 0 last week gives the military roughly $80 billion and pays for the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan only through September. That is twice what President Bush insists he needs to cut from the federal support for Medicaid over the next decade.

Already the red state of Missouri is set to end its Medicaid program entirely within the next three years because of a lack of funds. As the Los Angeles Times reported, that will save the state $5 billion, but at the cost of ending healthcare for the more than 1 million Missourians enrolled in the program. That sum is less than half of what Halliburton, Vice President Dick Cheney's old company, alone has been paid for reconstruction efforts in Iraq, without much to show for it in terms of improving the Iraqis' quality of life.

Similarly, with roughly 10% of what we've spent in Iraq, we could make up the $27-billion federal funding shortfall in paying for Bush's controversial No Child Left Behind Act, which tells public schools that they will be all but scrapped if they don't improve — yet it doesn't provide the means to do so. This number comes from a lawsuit filed by school districts in Texas, Michigan and Vermont and the National Education Assn., the nation's largest teachers organization.

Sadly, these domestic failures provide a far greater long-term threat to our nation's security than the hyped-up claims surrounding our foreign adventures. Abroad, we must "support our troops" at all costs — even if the cost is their lives — while at home, the nation's leaders are all about tough love.

"Government is not here to do everything for everybody," admonished Missouri state Rep. Jodi Stefanick, a Republican representing suburban St. Louis. "We have to draw the line somewhere." Just not in Iraq, apparently.

Welcome to late-era Rome, where mindless militaristic expansion is considered patriotic and where demagogues who recklessly waste taxes and young lives in empire-building are deemed valorous. Wolfowitz, for example, has been rewarded for his ignorance and arrogance with the top job at the World Bank.

It is not too late, however, for us to wake up and recall that, in the end, once militarism trumped republicanism, the glory that was Rome proved to be a hollow boast.

Copyright 2005 Los Angeles Times

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Do not sign Arnold's petitions

Local Education Coalition Members Urge Californians Not to Sign Governor's Budget Initiative Petitions
Measure Would Weaken Prop. 98 Protections

April 19, 2005

CHICO – Local members of the California Education Coalition today discussed the impact of Governor Schwarzenegger's broken promises to education and urged Californians not to sign the Governor's flawed budget measure petitions during a press conference at Jay Partridge Elementary School in Chico.

Local parents, teachers, school employees and administrators highlighted the fact that Governor Schwarzenegger has broken his word to California's students and schools on two fronts, by withholding $2 billion in this year's budget and by proposing changes to the voter approved Proposition 98 via his so-called "Live Within Our Means" (LWOM) budget initiative that would eliminate the minimum funding protections for schools.

"In the past four years, California's schools have lost more than 9.8 billion in state funding cuts," said Tamara Conry, a math teacher at Paradise Intermediate School. "As a parent and a classroom teacher I see how these cuts impact our local schools every day. Now the Governor wants us to sign petitions for an initiative that would destroy Prop.98, the law voters approved to make sure our schools receive minimum funding. Like the rest of the Governor's so-called reforms, this initiative will not help our schools one bit. We strongly urge Californians NOT to sign the Governor's petition."

Governor Schwarzenegger's budget proposal underfunds Proposition 98 and will only lead to more school closures, larger class sizes, additional layoffs of teachers and school support personnel, and the elimination of key student programs.

The Governor's LWOM Act exacerbates the problem by allowing him to make across-the-board cuts, including to education, during fiscal emergencies and eliminating the Prop. 98 provisions that require the state to repay the amounts owed to our schools and our students. Current provisions allow the legislature to make temporary cuts in funding without threatening the long-term funding level of education.

"Last year at this time, the one million members of the California State PTA worked with this Governor on a solution for the state's budget problem – a problem that was not created by our kids," said Ann Hayes, 13th District PTA. "This Governor promised that $2 billion in funding for our schools would be restored and that our kids would receive their fair share of any additional state revenues. He has broken his promise and once again our kids and our schools will suffer."

During his campaign for Governor, Schwarzenegger promised to protect Proposition 98, a law passed by voters that guarantees minimum funding for our schools, saying "Not over my dead body." Now, the Governor is proposing changes via the LWOM Act that would eliminate the funding protections the voters put into place with the initiative.

The California Education Coalition is comprised of organizations representing more than 1.5 million parents, teachers, school board members, school employees, and administrators, including:

Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) representing nearly 15,500 school administrators

California Association of School Business Officials (CASBO) representing more than 4,000 school finance and administrative managers

California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA) representing all 58 county superintendents throughout California

California Federation of Teachers (CFT-AFL-CIO) representing nearly 90,000 education employees

California School Boards Association (CSBA) representing more than 1,000 K-12 school districts and county offices of education throughout California

California School Employees Association (CSEA) representing more than 230,000 classified school employees

California State PTA representing more than one million parents, teachers, and students in California

California Teachers Association (CTA) representing over 330,000 educators

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) representing more than 50,000 school employees in California


Saturday, April 16, 2005

Gov. owes an apology--and $2Billion : L.A. Times

The Governor Owes Schools an Apology -- and $2 Billion
George Skelton
Capitol Journal
Los Angeles Times
April 14, 2005
It's like they're shouting at each other in different languages - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the angry school folks.
They're debating the proverbial apples and oranges. Both are right, rhetorically.
Schwarzenegger is wrong politically - and many say morally.
Schwarzenegger insists everywhere he goes - on talk radio and at initiative campaign rallies - that his proposed budget includes a $2.9-billion funding increase for schools: kindergarten through community college.
When the "special interests" claim that school funds are being cut, he says, "They are lying."
"The [teacher] unions spread propaganda that I'm taking money away from education, which is totally incorrect, because I'm adding…. I am a pro-education governor."
The governor is correct. He is adding money. But what he leaves out - and the ed lobby is hollering about in TV ads and at protest rallies - is that he promised schools roughly $2 billion more and reneged.
He pledged that extra money in a face-to-face, handshake deal shortly after taking office. It was the schools' condition for passively surrendering $2 billion they were rightly owed under Proposition 98. The governor needed the $2 billion from schools to avoid raising taxes.
So there's a TV ad now running in California's largest urban areas that shows parents proclaiming: "I'm upset about Gov. Schwarzenegger breaking his promises on education. He said he'd never shortchange Prop. 98…. That would only happen, quote, 'over my dead body.' But then he borrowed $2 billion from the education budget and now refuses to pay it back."
The broken promise is at the heart of a bitter battle between Schwarzenegger and an education coalition led by the powerful, 335,000-member California Teachers Assn.
Breaking his word to the CTA and other school groups probably is the single most damaging error Schwarzenegger has committed as governor. It soiled his image as a straight shooter.

I don't know about Hollywood and moviemaking, but in Sacramento and politics, breaking your word is probably the worst sin. The term "double-cross" comes to mind.
"I'm out of the deal-making business with this governor," says Barbara Kerr, the CTA president.
"He owes us a bit of money and seems to be trying to make the lenders into the bad guys."
The governor's rationale for withholding money from schools was that it would spare other state programs from deep cuts, particularly healthcare for the poor and disabled.
H.D. Palmer, the governor's budget spokesman, offers this example: 190,000 children would have been forced off the Healthy Families medical care program for the working poor.
"The governor said that wasn't a trade-off he was willing to do," Palmer recalls. "So he stuck with what he believed was a reasonable balance."
As it was, Schwarzenegger still had to cut deeply into many health and welfare programs.
Of course, he also could have raised taxes. He'd have broken a different promise, but not one as signed and sealed as the school deal.
Here's what happened:
Schwarzenegger was desperate for money, and school officials wanted to cozy up to the charismatic, larger-than-life new governor. Also, they feared a worse result if there was no cooperation. So they agreed not to fight for the $2 billion on the condition that it be returned - that is, returned to their guaranteed annual funding base. It hasn't been.
The governor assured schools that if tax revenues increased this year, he'd give them their normal cut under Prop. 98. Revenues did, but he didn't.
The final paragraph of the statement Schwarzenegger released at the deal's announcement read: "This Prop. 98 funding will be restored as required by law and our agreement. Today, I am making that promise to our teachers and students."
Schwarzenegger didn't just renege on the deal. He's pushing a budget "reform" to amend Prop. 98 so that repayment of back money owed schools - roughly $4 billion - is stretched out over 15 years and not added to the guaranteed base.
There is logic in tinkering with Prop. 98. Under the current system, if the state gives schools a fat bonus during boom times, it's on the hook for that payment year after year, even when the economy sours. Of the $50 billion in state and local tax revenues Schwarzenegger is proposing for schools, nearly $10 billion is because of funding bonuses - called "over-appropriations" - between 1999 and 2002.

Schwarzenegger's budget control plan would allow the state to give schools a one-time bonus without it becoming part of the guaranteed base.
Senate leader Don Perata (D-Alameda) has said he's willing to tinker with Prop. 98. But not Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez (D-Los Angeles).
"When we're in the top five states in per-pupil funding," Nuñez says, "then perhaps we can talk about reforming Prop. 98." California currently is closer to the bottom five.
Anyway, Nuñez says, "the governor has to decide how long is a deal good for. He needs to clear the air and reestablish a certain level of trust."
Veteran Republican strategist Ken Khachigian thinks Schwarzenegger should take the statesman's route and address a joint session of the Legislature.
"Lay it out," Khachigian advises. "Say, 'This is not a problem I invented. It's a mutual problem…. Let's focus on the budget and avoid a ballot fight.'
"He's got a lot of maneuvering room. He's got great communication skills. He can be visionary, philosophical and assertive. He doesn't have to look like a wimp."
In the speech, Schwarzenegger could apologize for repeatedly referring to former negotiating partners as greedy special interests. And he could give the schools back their promised money.
George Skelton writes Monday and Thursday. Reach him at



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Who funds Arnold, more

Editor -

I assume that Dan Walters wrote his article about public employee unions and their political power, before he read Ballot Watch by Dan Smith, in Saturday’s Bee.

Smith’s article listed Who’s Writing Checks – top contributors through Friday (4/9).

Contributions from Businesses, Corporations and Associations - $15.1 million

Citizens to Save California – Business groups supporting Schwarzenegger measures - $3.6 million
PhRMA – Pharmaceutical Industry – restrictions on union dues, opposing drug price caps - $9.7 million
Californians for Fair Districting – supporting the Governor’s proposal - $760,000
Californians for Fair Elections – supporting redistricting measures - $300,000
Californians to Stop Higher Taxes – opposing tax measures, including closing tax loopholes - $400,000
Coalition for Employee Rights – restrict public employee unions from using dues for politics - $375,000

Contributions from Unions - $2.9 million

Alliance for a Better California – opposing the Governor’s initiatives, re-regulation of energy, etc. - $2.6 million
Californians for Tax Fairness – supports measure to increase non-residential property taxes - $250,000

Examination of this report on money and politics, dramatically documents the power of the business and corporate sectors in trying to influence public policy.

The tragedy is that these contributions are transparent -  they are published.

The fundamental problem is the corruption of the political process, and the proliferation of ballot initiatives is designed to subvert the legislative process. The initiatives are efforts to bamboozle Californians, under the guise of democracy in action.
There is only one solution, at every level of government – public financing of elections.

Emanuel Gale

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Dear Arnold

In California our unfair tax system damages our schools. We rank about 37 in the nation in per pupil expenditures. And, the recent study by the Harvard Civil Rights Project reveals once again that our schools are failing Latinos, Blacks, and low income Whites. We grossly under fund our schools, and we get reading and math results appropriate to our funding levels. This inadequate funding is confirmed each year in the state budgets.
I have written a book, now in its third edition, called Choosing Democracy: a practical guide to multicultural education. ( Merrill/Prentice Hall, 2004). In Choosing Democracy I describe and define several of California’s choices to under fund their schools. Then, when the students fail, the Governor blames the teachers. In truth this is a political failure and the cause lies directly in the legislature and the governor’s office.
In the next edition I will update this report. I will report whether or not you supported tax reform to help the working people and the middle class, or did you continue the present practices of support for an unfair tax system that benefits the rich. I will also report on school progress or lack thereof in my on-line web log.

I request a response from your office on how you are working to adequately fund our schools. The initiatives which you are promoting on schools are a deception.

Dr. Duane Campbell

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

NCLB Study: Academic growth slowed

April 13, 2005

Study Finds Shortcoming in New Law on Education

The academic growth that students experience in a given school year has apparently slowed since the passage of No Child Left Behind, the education law that was intended to achieve just the opposite, a new study has found.

In both reading and math, the study determined, test scores have gone up somewhat, as each class of students outdoes its predecessors. But within grades, students have made less academic progress during the school year than they did before No Child Left Behind went into effect in 2002, the researchers said.

That finding casts doubt on whether schools can meet the law's mandate that all students be academically proficient by 2014. In fact, to realize the goal of universal proficiency, the study said, students will have to make as much as three times the progress they are currently making.

The study was conducted by the Northwest Evaluation Association, which develops tests for about 1,500 school districts in 43 states. To complete it, the group drew upon its test data for more than 320,000 students in 23 states, a sample that it calls "broad but not nationally representative," in part because the biggest cities, not being Northwest clients, were not included.

One of the more ominous findings, the researchers said, is that the achievement gap between white and nonwhite students could soon widen. Closing the gap is one of the driving principles of the law, and so far states say they have made strides toward shrinking it.

But minority students with the same test scores as their white counterparts at the beginning of the school year ended up falling behind by the end of it, the study found. Both groups made academic progress, but the minority students did not make as much, it concluded, an outcome suggesting that the gaps in achievement will worsen.

"Right now it's kind of a hidden effect that we would expect to see expressed in the next couple of years," said Gage Kingsbury, Northwest's director of research. "At that point, I think people will be disappointed with what N.C.L.B. has done."

The findings diverge from those of other recent studies, including a survey last month by the Center on Education Policy, a research group. It found that a significant majority of state education officials reported widespread academic progress and a narrowing of the achievement gap.

"This new study should give everybody pause before they run off and say, 'We're marching to victory,' " said Jack Jennings, the center's president. "Maybe we're not."

Kerri Briggs, a senior policy analyst at the Education Department, said the Northwest study had both encouraging and worrisome aspects, but added that she would have to examine it more closely before passing judgment.

Some critics speculated that because the study lacked data from big cities, which have large populations of minority students and have posted significant gains on test scores in recent years, it might have overstated or mischaracterized what was happening with the achievement gap.

"It's hard to know how much you can extrapolate from this study," said Ross Wiener, policy director for the Education Trust, which released its own report in January showing mixed results on student performance and achievement gaps. "I don't think you want to make generalizations about what's going on nationwide."

Still, the Northwest study tracked student performance at a level that others did not, a factor that may help explain why some of its findings appear unorthodox. Rather than relying on test scores at just one point in the year, the Northwest study looked at how students fared in the fall and then again in the spring, in an effort to see how much they had learned during the year.

With this approach, Northwest found that test scores on its exams did, in fact, go up from one year to the next under No Child Left Behind, typically by less than a point. The reason successive classes appear to do a little better than those before them may stem from the fact that younger students have grown up during a time of more regular testing than their immediate predecessors, the researchers said, and are therefore higher achievers.

But rising test scores tend to mask how much progress individual students make as they travel through school, the researchers found. Since No Child Left Behind, that individual growth has slowed, possibly because teachers feel compelled to spend the bulk of their time making sure students who are near proficiency make it over the hurdle.

The practice may leave teachers with less time to focus on students who are either far below or far above the proficiency mark, the researchers said, making it less likely for the whole class to move forward as rapidly as before No Child Left Behind set the agenda.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

NCLB; A Progressive Critique

New Politics (NP) journal has published the contributions of researchers
and activists who were invited by NP to analyze the origins and impact of
NCLB, as well as the contours of a genuinely progressive response. All of
the contributors identify critical problems with NCLB, but they differ on
whether progressives should press to eliminate or reform the legislation.
Michael Charney and Michele Brooks advance the perspective of many
activists in the American Federation of Teachers and parent advocacy
groups that would like to reform NCLB and fund it at higher levels. Stan
Karp, Carlos Torres, and Lois Weiner each describes the legislation in
more starkly critical terms. Torres and Weiner (a member of the NP
editorial board) argue that public education can only serve the needs of
students, parents, and teachers if the neoliberal agenda that NCLB
represents is comprehensively defeated.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Who is paying for Arnold's war on teachers?

This story is taken from Politics at
Ballot watch

Top contributors through Friday:

Citizens to Save California
(Business groups supporting Schwarzenegger measures):

A Jerrold Perenchio (Univision owner), $1.5 million
John A. Gunn, president, Dodge & Cox (mutual fund manager), $500,000
William Lyon Homes, $250,000
Security National Servicing Corp. (distressed mortgage buyer), $250,000
Carl H. Lindner, chairman, American Financial Group (Chiquita bananas), $200,000
Capital Pacific Holdings Inc. (real estate), $150,000
Lawrence K. Doyle Trust, American Sterling Corp. (financial services), $130,000
American Sterling Corp. (financial services), $120,000
Ameriquest Capital Corp. (mortgages), $100,000
Henry Segerstrom Trust (mall owner), $100,000
California Retailers Association, $100,000
Target Corp. (retailer), $100,000
The New Majority PAC (Republican activists), $95,000

Alliance for a Better California
(Unions, Democrats opposed to Schwarzenegger measures; pushing re-regulation of electricity, lower drug prices, protections for car buyers):

California State Council of Service Employees Political Actions Issues Account, $700,000
American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees International Union, $500,000
SEIU Local 1000 - California State Employees Association Issues PAC, $450,000
California Teachers Association, $617,000
Association of California School Administrators Issues PAC, $150,000
California Federation of Teachers COPE Prop/Ballot Committee, $100,000
PACE of California School Employees Association, $100,000

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America CA Initiative Fund
(Supporting restrictions on union dues, opposing drug price caps):

Merck & Co. Inc., $1.3 million
Johnson & Johnson, $1.3 million
Pfizer Inc., $1.3 million
GlaxoSmithKline, $1.3 million
Aventis Pharmaceuticals Inc., $650,000
Amgen Inc., $650,000
Wyeth, $650,000
Eli Lilly and Co., $650,000
Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., $650,000
Abbott Laboratories, $650,000
AstraZeneca LP, $650,000

Californians for Fair Redistricting
(Supporting Schwarzenegger redistricting measure):

Round One Investments (venture capital firm), $385,000
David Lack General Contractor Inc., $100,000
William A. Mundell, CEO, Vidyah Inc. (marketing training firm), $100,000
AOS Technologies (computer product developer), $100,000
Lawrence B. Abramson, producer/investor, $75,000

Californians for Fair Elections
(Supporting all redistricting measures)

John Walton (Wal-mart heir), $100,000
Small Business Action Committee (business groups, anti-tax groups), $100,000
William E. Bloomfield, retired businessman, $100,000

Californians to Stop Higher Taxes
(Business and anti-tax groups opposing a variety of tax measures, including those to close so-called tax loopholes)

Ameriquest Capital Corp. (mortgages), $250,000
California Business Properties Association Issue PAC, $50,000
Chevron/Texaco, $100,000

Coalition for Employee Rights
(Supporting measure to restrict public employee unions from spending dues money on political campaigns)

Small Business Action Committee (business groups, anti-tax groups), $375,000

Californians for Tax Fairness
(Supports measure to increase non-residential property taxes)

California Teachers Association, $250,000

Q: When is the election?

A: That's up to Schwarzenegger. Election law allows the governor to call a special statewide election after a measure has qualified for the ballot. But the election can be called no later than 148 days before it is to be held. One scenario from Secretary of State Bruce McPherson's office has determined that if Schwarzenegger wants a Nov. 8 election, he must issue the proclamation no later than June 13. California has had four statewide special elections since 1973. Voter turnout exceeded 47 percent only once, in the 2003 gubernatorial recall in which 61.2 percent of registered voters cast ballots.

About the writer:

The Bee's Dan Smith can be reached at (916) 321-5249 or

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Teachers and Nurses 1 Schwarzenegger 0

Schwarzenegger backs off pension plan

By John Hill -- Bee Capitol Bureau
Published 12:06 pm PDT Thursday, April 7, 2005
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday backed off his plan to overhaul the public pension system this year.

The Republican governor, whose plan to shift public pensions to a 401(k)-style plan for employees hired in 2007 and beyond, had been battered by critics, said he would try again next year barring a legislative agreement.

"Let's pull it back and do it better," the governor said in a surprise news conference at the Capitol.

The move represents a huge political defeat for Schwarzenegger that illustrates the perils of governing by initiative. Unions and Democrats said the governor's retreat would help open the way for discussions of problems they said were more pressing to most Californians.

The governor said he had listened to the concerns of survivors of public safety officers killed in the line of duty and others who claimed the initiative would end death and disability payments. While the governor said the initiative was never intended to end the special benefits, he acknowledged that the criticism had clouded the issue.

He denied that he was swayed by public pressure.

"The protestors or poll numbers have absolutely no impact on what I do," he said.

The pension overhaul was one of five proposals the governor has proposed for a special election ballot this year, along with plans to change the way political districts are drawn, give more budget-cutting power to governors, eliminate teacher tenure and institute merit pay for teachers.

Teachers and Nurses 1: Arnold 0. but, we are still in the first quarter of the game.

As you may have heard, Arnold has withdrawn the pension initiatives because they contained a error which would have made them defeatable. He promises to return in June 06.

There are still two anti teacher initiatives headed for the ballot.
The first issue,

Should teachers unions, or CSEA, be able to use members money to fight the Scwarzenegger project.
He can raise $50 million from his corporate buddies. Can teachers fight back?

Should teachers have tenure. Or, should they be subject to Principal's whims. Sort of like working for Civil Service or working as a political appointee.
This attack on teacher tenure is motivated by the Republican’s failure at school reform. See articles below.

Duane Campbell

Assemblywoman Bass on Exit Exams

Opposing view: Make the exit exam one among several measures of skills

By Karen Bass
Thursday, April 7, 2005
Assemblywoman Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, is responding to The Bee's editorial "Retain exit exam / Diploma should mean something," which appeared March 21.

The Sacramento Bee mischaracterized legislation I am proposing. AB 1531 would not eliminate the high school exit exam; the bill simply calls for the exam to be one of several measures used to determine if a student has mastered high-school level course work. With so many attempts under way to improve California's educational system, we have to ask ourselves what the goal of the exit exam really is.

If it is to ensure students demonstrate competency in basic high school curriculum, then there should be more than a single test to measure skills.

According to the Stanford school of education, 25 states have passed legislation requiring a high school exit exam. But only eight of those states do not consider other performance information for a diploma. In some cases, districts use a combination of state exams and local performance assessments - along with grades, portfolios and teacher recommendations. School districts in Maine, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania combine results from local performance assessments with state assessments for graduation decisions.

Research is divided about the impact of the high school exit exam on the dropout rate. But even the study The Bee cited notes that school districts in Massachusetts, Texas and New York - under pressure to improve test scores as required by the "No Child Left Behind Act" - encouraged low-performing students to leave school and pursue a GED. A Harvard study released last month found that devastating numbers of African American (43 percent) and Latino (40 percent) children do not finish high school.

We cannot afford to drive more students out of school. Nor should we put districts and administrators under pressure that could result in even more students leaving our high schools without a diploma and the skills required to achieve their best.

If our goal in California is to measure competency in basic skills and curriculum, then we should take advantage of the research and experience of other states and adopt a comprehensive approach that includes multiple methods of assessing competency. This would result in a higher standard and greater accountability than that afforded by a single exam.

this op ed piece provided by the office of Assemblywoman Bass.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Leaving Children Behind in Texas

Angela Valenzuela

The alleged “Texas Miracle” in education (Haney, 2000, 2001), combined
with the 2002 reauthorization of the federal Elementary and Secondary
Education Act (popularly known as the “No Child Left Behind
Act” [NCLB]), has shifted what was once an intrastate debate over educational
accountability to a national-level issue. Supporters of accountability
claim that it promotes equity by making schools teach poor
and minority children who have been historically neglected by our public
school system (see Scheurich & Skrla, 2001; Scheurich, Skrla, &
Johnson, 2000; Skrla, Scheurich, & Johnson, 2000a, 2000b). Opponents,
including the contributors to this volume, argue that the Texas
system of educational accountability has failed—and will continue to
fail—Latina/o and other minority youth and their communities.1 We interpret
Texas-style accountability as exacerbating historic inequities,
mainly through the collateral effects of state policy, but also through a
systemwide failure to accommodate the needs and abilities of Englishlanguage
learners (see the chapters by Alamillo, Palmer, Viramontes, &
García; and by Ruiz de Velasco). Moreover, as McNeil points out (see
chapter 3), the dramatic educational improvement attributed to Texas’
system of accountability is itself questionable. The state’s methods of
collecting and reporting educational data, including the critically important
high-stakes test scores, hide as much as they reveal. When the
focus is shifted to Texas’ students’ performance on nationwide tests
such as the American College Test (ACT) and Scholastic Assessment
Test (SAT) 1, or when skyrocketing dropout and projected retention
rates are factored in (see McNeil and Valencia & Villarreal), the state’s
“miracle” looks more like a mirage.
That schools should be held accountable is indisputable. This volume
does not suggest otherwise. Rather, what we question is the Texas
model of accountability. Specifically, the authors reject high-stakes testing,
the system’s centerpiece. We further contend that the Texas approach
is deeply flawed, for three interrelated reasons: for attaching high-stakes
consequences—in the areas of retention, promotion, and graduation—to
a single measure of students’ academic abilities; for attaching high-stakes
consequences to schools and districts and thereby encouraging a reductionist,
test-driven curriculum; and for promoting a uniform and objectivist
way of knowing, to the detriment of other cultures, languages, and
approaches to knowledge.
Our collective admonition to the nation is that policies supporting
high-stakes testing are harmful to all children, especially for children
from poor, minority, or non-English-speaking families.2 Indeed, these
policies curtail or compromise the very achievement the public seeks.
Moreover, state policies that attach high-stakes consequences to children’s
test scores are inherently invalid, undemocratic, and unjust
(Heubert & Hauser, 1999). They distort the process of schooling, as well,
through the creation of perverse incentives to “lose” children or limit curriculum,
or both (see the chapters by Alamillo, Palmer, Viramontes, &
García; Hampton; McNeil; Sloan; and Valencia & Villarreal). Finally,
when the test is the sole or primary arbiter in decisions with such longlasting
consequences for children, we insist that students have a right to
be assessed in a complete and fair manner, using as many criteria as may
reasonably indicate children’s cognitive abilities and potential.3
We would like to see the terms of the current debate over educational
accountability overhauled. At issue is not whether schools and districts
should be accountable, but what means should be used to
accomplish the widely shared goal of ensuring that all children receive a
high-quality education. When we allow the state to equate academic excellence
with a single test score, when we agree to tie our children’s performance
on one test to their classroom teachers’ jobs and school
administrators’ bonuses, we implicitly validate the host of values, presuppositions,
and attitudes that underlie a flawed version of accountability.
Recasting the debate, we hope, will draw necessary attention to the
questionable nature of such typically unexamined assumptions.
In calling for a new approach to the ongoing conversation about accountability,
we seek to create a larger public space for a Latina/o, researchbased
perspective and epistemology (see Padilla) in the development of a
more just assessment system.

Leaving Children Behind: How Texas Style Accountability Fails Latino Youth,
(SUNY press, 2004) Angela Valenzuela, ed.
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