What is truly frightening for the children of Santa Monica and Malibu, as well as for children throughout the State of California? The prospect of Proposition 76 passing!
Proposition 76 is a bad idea for many reasons, but first and foremost is the devastating impact it would have on public schools. If Prop 76 passes, $3.8 billion would immediately be eliminated from the minimum funding guarantee for schools. Our schools are already under-funded statewide. In the past 30 years, California school funding has declined from about $400 above the national average to $600 below the national average. The fifth largest economy in the world, California is now ranked 44th in the nation when it comes to school funding. Yet here we are again, facing another assault on funding for public education.
In describing Prop. 76, California’s nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office is explicit:
“…(T)he state would no longer have to eventually restore the current maintenance factor obligation ($3.8 billion).” and “This measure would result in a lower minimum guarantee for K-14 education compared with existing law…” (www.lao.ca.gov
Governor Schwarzenegger and the folks who designed the ad campaign for this election must not have noticed, however, because they are running a television commercial falsely claiming that Prop. 76 would help classrooms throughout the state.
So that’s the second most frightening thing about this Halloween season – that the Governor would stretch the truth so far that it crosses the line to dishonesty.
The third most frightening aspect of Prop.76 is the unprecedented and unchecked power it would give the governor – any governor – to slash budgets at any time of year. School districts need to plan for the school year. Students need to be able to count on classes being available throughout the academic year. Prop 76 would give the governor, acting with no oversight or public input, the authority to make mid-year cuts that would force districts to cut budgets…that means cut teachers and the classes they teach, in the middle of the year.
The Los Angeles Times, in its editorial opposing Prop 76, referred to “granting the governor substantial new power to unilaterally reduce state spending” as Prop. 76’s “fatal flaw.”
We believe that Californians want good public schools again. The Santa Monica-Malibu Council of PTAs and the California State PTA, teachers locally and statewide, the City of Santa Monica, the Santa Monica-Malibu School Board, the League of Women voters and Community for Excellent Public Schools have all taken strong OPPOSE positions on Prop. 76.
Here in Santa Monica and Malibu, our communities have repeatedly shown a fierce commitment to make high quality public education a top local and state priority. Again, we ask all registered voters to make sure your voice is heard and your vote is counted. Proposition 76 is currently failing in the polls but don’t be lulled into a safety zone; the outcome of this election will depend on who actually gets out to vote next week. Please be sure to go to the polls and also encourage your friends and neighbors to be sure to vote on November 8th. Vote to protect public schools by voting NO on Proposition 76.
Shari Davis and Louise Jaffe
Community for Excellent Public Schools