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Voters Pondering Competing Tax Measures

Forum will help differentiate school tax propositions --- Brown's 30 and Munger's 38.

With Pasadena schools facing nearly $18 million in budget cuts over the next 18 months, the public education faithful agree that voters must approve a tax increase in November to avoid catastrophe.

But whether to support Gov. Jerry Brown's Proposition 30 or Pasadena attorney Molly Munger's Proposition 38 is another question.

Brown's initiative, backed by teachers unions, would increase the state sales tax and income taxes on top wage earners for seven years to keep education funding at its current level. The revenue also would be used to shore up public safety and higher education budgets and pay down some of California's deficit.

Munger's measure, supported by parent-teacher associations, would raise up to $10 billion a year for K-12 schools for 12 years through a sliding-scale income tax of as little as $7 on those making less than $25,000 per year to as much as $77,000 on those earning more than $1 million. Money would go directly to schools, bypassing the state's general fund.

If Brown's plan wins, Pasadena Unified School District officials would still have to trim $10 million from their budget next year, said spokesman Adam Wolfson. Munger's measure would bring in about $19 million for Pasadena schools next year, but it wouldn't take effect in time to hold off a $5-million cut this year.

To help voters do the math, the Pasadena Education Network is hosting a forum on Thursday featuring advocates for each measure and those backing both.

“Many who don't have kids in public schools will vote no on both, and my biggest fear is that if some of us vote for 30 and some vote for 38, neither is going to pass,” said San Rafael Elementary School PTA President Michelle Calva-Despard. “If we lose this because of a split, that's going to be a real shame.”

During a Sept. 27 PTA event at Eliot Middle School, Munger said she embraced support from voters hedging their bets, but said she also needs 38-only supporters to triumph.

Munger said she will not vote for Brown's measure because school funding has sunk too low to remain flat.

“What you do when you're not giving people anything is threaten to hurt them even worse. Basically, that's the [Brown] plan,” said Munger. “It hurts schools by pretending to help schools when it doesn't.”

United Teachers of Pasadena President Alvin Nash said several teachers have asked him whether they should support both measures.

“We tell teachers, ‘You have to decide for yourself,'” said Nash. But, “If 38 gets more votes, it wouldn't stop the midyear cuts, shortening the school year and bringing additional layoffs in March.”

Marna Cornell, president of the League of Women Voters – Pasadena Area and a retired Los Angeles teacher, said she understands the appeal of Munger's plan, but also why the league backs Proposition 30.

“Education is being starved, but we want to see other programs protected as well as education,” she said.

Munger, a 1966 graduate of John Muir High School, recalled serving as a volunteer teacher there in the mid-1990s and finding students lacked access to basic instructional materials and programs.

“Already by then, almost 20 years ago, I couldn't believe what had been lost,” said Munger, daughter of Berkshire-Hathaway billionaire Charles Munger. She has put about $27 million of her own money into the Proposition 38 campaign.

Calva-Despard said the parent-driven group Educate Our State convinced her to support both 30 and 38.

“Instead of taking care of children, we're arguing like children,” she said. “It took a group of mommies to step in and say if neither of these pass, then everybody loses.”

Pasadena Education Network's “Educating the Education Voter” forum takes place at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at All Saints Church, 132 N. Euclid Ave., Pasadena.

Pasedena Sun

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GOOD - Op Ed

On Election Day, Your Local School Hangs in the BalanceScreen_Shot_2012-10-08_at_11.09.11_AM.png

On Tuesday, November 6 I’ll be doing what Americans nationwide will be doing: heading to the polls to elect a president. But, I also live in California, a state that in the last four years alone has seen public schools endure $20 billion in education cuts. On Election Day, I—and every other Californian—have the opportunity to show our support for public education by passing two education-focused initiatives, Proposition 30, the Schools & Local Safety Protection Act, and Proposition 38, Our Children Our Future. With these initiatives, we will send a message to our state leaders that the voting public cares about education and it should be a priority for our state once again.

The two propositions are models for legislation in other states impacted by education cuts.Proposition 30 "temporarily increases personal income taxes on the highest earners—couples with incomes over $500,000 a year—and establishes the sales tax at a rate lower than it was last year." That will provide up to $6 billion per year, most of which is restitution funding for K-12 education, public colleges, and universities, plus some new funds for public safety. The revenue from Prop 30 is already included in the 2012-13 state budget, therefore failure of this proposition would trigger a $5.4 billion cut to education.

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What Happens if Both Prop 30 and 38 Pass in November - KCET Blog

There's an argument that runs like this: If people vote for only one of the two income tax measures in November, then both are more likely to fail, and if both fail, then woe be it to students and teachers across the state. It's better, then, to vote Yes on both.

The argument refers to propositions 30 and 38, both of which aim to increase the personal income tax in California and use the extra revenue to help pay for education. If neither one passes, public schools would face cuts of more than $5 billion, and that's in addition to the decreases they've already experienced.

That scenario is a scholastic apocalypse to organizations like Educate Our State, a grassroots nonprofit that advocates for better collaboration in fixing and improving public schools.

"Our opinion is that it's very dangerous to send the message that these [two ballot measures] are competing," said Crystal Brown, the organization's board president and a parent of three daughters in the public school system.

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Letter to the Editor: Redwood Times

Be the Change for Our Schools

To the Editor:

Tired of endless budget cuts to our education system, fundraising for teachers, and the never-ending donations we are asked to give all in the name of our children’s education? When does it become private school instead of public school? Can we really turn this around? I believe we can.

I have been part of the group Educate Our State (http://www.educateourstate.org/) for a while now. I really like their grass roots, parents-like-us, approach to improving California’s failing education system. We all know what the problems are - budget cuts, teachers, supplies, no nurses, limited electives and extracurriculars, funding, funding, funding. Let’s work together, within our community, and within our state to make real change to make California’s public education good.

We will be meeting at Juice Jungle to discuss our options and how each of us can really make a difference. For more information please contact Cinnamon 223-0165 or biodieselmama@gmail.com. I will also post handouts and such available to download on www.southernhumboldtkids.com after our meeting.

Cinnamon Paula

Redway

http://www.redwoodtimes.com/letters/ci_21465109/be-change-our-schools

 

 

 

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Fighting for an Excellent Education

Yesterday, my worlds collided and the resulting flash of light has allowed me to see -- with absolute clarity -- why I am fighting so darned hard to improve the public education system in California.

Over the past three years, I have personally spoken with thousands of parents -- from the beaches in San Diego and the hills of the East Bay, to the valley in Sacramento -- and each has a story of the destruction of their schools, the fleecing of their communities, and the resulting sadness they have felt for the missed opportunities of their children.

Read more here: Huffington Post Blog

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Vote Twice for Education Over Politics

Californians and our political representatives have jointly presided over the demise of our once-heralded system of public education. Just how far has the once-mighty fallen? California now ranks 40th in per-pupil funding; our standardized testing scores now rank below almost every state in the nation, with only 25 percent of students at proficient levels (44th in math, 45th in reading); more than 180 school districts face major financial strain and are forced to borrow money (at high interest rates) to pay their bills; and class sizes have ballooned to near 40 students per teacher in many school districts.

Huffington Post Blog by Crystal Brown 

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Educate Our State: It's All In The Numbers

Numbers are important to parents. We count down the days until our children enter our lives by gestational weeks. Doctors proclaim their overall initial health with Apgar scores. We even proudly announce their arrival with a slew of numbers representing pounds, ounces, inches and hours of labor. And as our children grow, the numbers continue to increase in importance. Parents in California particularly have been paying attention to some very important numbers. Numbers like 49, which represents our state's staff expenditure per pupil. (Only Arizona and Utah rank lower). Number 49 is also the ranking of overall teacher-pupil ratio. And $15.7 billion is the estimate for our state's budget gap—$6.5 billion is the latest estimate for additional educational budget cuts expected to be absorbed by the school system this year alone.

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School Beat: What the Next School Year Holds in Store

Another school year is rolling to an end this week, without, unfortunately, closing the chapter on some fundamental challenges that continue to dog our public schools. While we should not lose track of the inspiring successes at many schools and for many students, the significant problems public education supporters need to tackle must remain in our sights, front and center.

Budgetary woes are perhaps the most well-known and easy to understand. In the midst of a continued recession felt very severely in California, no fairy tale powers will let us spin straw into gold and overcome the many decades of financial drain our schools have experienced. Certainly Governor Brown’s latest budget forecast and proposal offer very little in the way of hope. The California Budget Project recently released a report detailing the decline in state level general purpose funding since the 2007, finding a decrease of $530 per student. According to the latest national comparison, we’re now almost at the bottom of spending, coming in at number 47.

This never-ending budget problem is felt keenly at school sites by students, parents and educators. Class sizes have been increased, pink slips to teachers have been sent out, school site councils are making impossible choices between key positions and resources, and furlough days are still a reality. All of this sets a terrible background for current contract negotiations with the teachers’ union, United Educators of San Francisco. UESF members have authorized a second strike vote and a state appointed mediator will be meeting the district and the union at the end of the month to hopefully move things forward. 

Addressing this funding nightmare is no easy matter given California’s broken budget and revenue processes. Lawsuits have been filed against the state for equitable and sufficient funding, but there are a few more things that individuals can do. Making your opinion known to elected officials directly or through organizations like Educate Our State is one important step. Taking a serious look at the tax initiatives on the table is another important one.

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A Grassroots Group Demands Legislators Stop Education Cuts

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Can a grassroots parent group convince California's state legislators to create a balanced budget without deeper education cuts? That's the goal of the "Stop the Circus" public service announcement produced by Educate Our State, a 3-year-old 40,000-member organization hoping public pressure can force legislators to protect schools from the latest wave of slash-and-burn fiscal policy.

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Calif. poll finds disconnect on school cuts, taxes

Nearly 80 percent of Californians oppose $5 billion in so-called trigger cuts to state schools this fall, but only a slight majority of voters support the governor's tax plan to stop it, according to a survey of 2,000 voters released Wednesday..... 

Indeed, San Francisco parent Crystal Brown said she believes parents are tired of the annual scramble to find enough money for schools, relying on Band-Aids and temporary taxes to make due.

"I think people are tired of feeling that," said Brown, board president of Educate Our State, a grassroots organization that supports long-term solutions to school funding problems. "It can't be year-to-year, knee-jerk" reactions.

At the same time, Brown said she doesn't see parents rejecting the governor's ballot measure if it will protect schools from more cuts.

"I will be willing to bet parents will come out and support anything on the ballot to tread water," she said.

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