Prop. 30: California deserves better

Commentary

Nov. 5, 2012

By Bey-Ling Sha, Ph.D.

There comes a time in every parent’s life when she has to decide how much she is willing to sacrifice for the good of her children’s education. In our family, I have given up time, money, sleep and emotional tranquility to support the education not only of my own children, but also other children in California’s public schools.

Like many other parents, I began with basic school fundraisers to support various programs lost to budget cuts, such as art, music and field trips. Most recently, I have been promoting Proposition 38 as part of the California State PTA’s biggest fundraiser in history. Sponsored by attorney Molly Munger, Prop. 38 would raise $10 billion per year for the next 12 years and allocate those funds directly to schools, bypassing the black hole that is the California state general fund. I support Prop 38. wholeheartedly, without reservation.

The California State PTA is a major endorser of Prop. 38, but it has remained officially neutral on a competing tax-increase measure, Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown’s initiative to raise taxes $6 billion a year. On Saturday, I resigned as the PTA’s Prop. 38 chairman in San Diego and Imperial counties. Now, I can speak as only myself, as a parent who cares about education funding in the long term, for at least the next 12 years, and not just the next 12 months.

In a word, Prop. 30 is dirty. It is a short-term, stop-gap measure that irreparably harms public education in California in the long term. As someone who hopes to live in California long enough to send her grandchildren to its public schools, I simply cannot support Prop. 30 at the ballot box, although I have come to this decision only after much, much reflection and soul searching.

California voters are being told that Prop. 30 must pass to prevent $6 billion in education trigger cuts this school year. That is true. But, it’s true only because the state Legislature and the governor have already taken those funds from education and used them for other stuff. Why? Because they figured that voters would raise taxes on themselves to fill a funding hole for education, but not necessarily for something else.

Next year?

But what about next school year? Prop. 30 essentially keeps K-12 education funding level, which means that we still would be 47th out of 50 states in per pupil funding. Regarding higher education, even Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has publicly said that Brown is misleading college students to believe that passage of Prop. 30 will prevent 2013-2014 tuition increases at campuses of California State University and the University of California systems. (It won’t.)

And what about the school year after that? Most voters don’t seem to realize that Prop. 30 is a constitutional amendment that permanently moves a portion of the state prison responsibilities (and its corresponding budget) down to the county level. This is called “realignment,” and it sounds great in theory. But, here is the dirty part: Realignment shrinks the state general fund. Oh, so what?

Well, education funding in California is determined each year as a percentage of the state general fund. Basic math tells us that X percent of a smaller number will be smaller than X percent of a bigger number. So, Prop. 30’s realignment provision, by shrinking the state general fund, actually reduces the funds for public education in the long term.

Californians should know better than most Americans that ballot-box wins today often are societal losses tomorrow. Exhibit A: Proposition 13, which froze state property taxes. Prop. 13 was a win for tax-averse voters in 1978, but it is one fundamental cause for the chronic state funding shortages today.

Will Prop. 30 be the Prop. 13 of this generation? That nightmare is what compels me to write this piece for public consideration, rather than merely in my personal journal.

Going public is scary. I teach at San Diego State University, which will see part of $250 million in trigger cuts if Prop. 30 fails. My university president and my faculty union are public supporters of Prop. 30. My children attend San Diego public schools whose teachers are promoting Prop. 30. Most of my personal friends and colleagues in the education community support Prop. 30.

But, I have decided that I am willing to sacrifice not only time, money, sleep and emotional tranquility in the interest of public education. I am also willing to sacrifice peace at the office, popularity on the playground, and privacy in my life to say what needs to be said: The children of California deserve better than Prop 30. And so do all Californians.

Bey-Ling Sha is the mother of a 7th grader and a 5th grader. She lives in San Diego.

18 comments

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  1. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 4 November, 2012, 22:24

    California voters are being told that Prop. 30 must pass to prevent $6 billion in education trigger cuts this school year. That is true. But, it’s true only because the state Legislature and the governor have already taken those funds from education and used them for other stuff. Why? Because they figured that voters would raise taxes on themselves to fill a funding hole for education, but not necessarily for something else.
    Perfectly stated.

    Reply this comment
  2. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 5 November, 2012, 01:38

    Prop.30 is dirty? What is dirty is Molly Munger’s refusal to defer to the Govenor and the 50 million dollars+ that she and her brother have put up to defeat Prop. 30 and pass Prop. 32. Then it gets even filthier, when you add the eleven million dollars that the Koch Bros’ pack has put up through a non-profit group in AZ, to pass Prop. 32.

    Educator, you should be ashamed!!!

    Reply this comment
  3. Kurt
    Kurt 5 November, 2012, 05:25

    You had me until the old, tired prop 13 argument.
    The basic problem with funding in this state is very simple –
    Too few actualy pay taxes as a percentage VS people that use public services.

    Reply this comment
  4. eyeamok
    eyeamok 5 November, 2012, 07:53

    Why is this person being allowed to shill for more taxes on this site?? furthermore, enrollment in Public Schools in California has been going DOWN by about 5% annually, With a shrinking customer base why do you need more money to provide the same services?? currently Per Pupil Spending is about $30K per year. And these fine students are the Dumbest People on the Planet precisely because of Teachers like you. If schools would go back to the BASICS instead of Mandatory Lesbian Dance Theory and Self Esteem awareness classes, maybe we could start teaching kids to Read,Write,Count.. you know all those things we used to teach before Government decided they had to be everyone’s Daddy. Social Issues and Education is for PARENTS not Government. Abolish All PUBLIC EDUCATION , give me my Property Tax money back and let me worry about the education of my child .

    Reply this comment
  5. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 5 November, 2012, 08:37

    Poodle into your crate. Fox business news…..prop 30 passes….no problem.

    Reply this comment
  6. Richard deSousa
    Richard deSousa 5 November, 2012, 08:46

    [No] on Prop 30! The governor and the Democrats are lying …for claiming Prop 30 is only for schools. They wrote the bill which has a back door and allows Sacramento to raid the revenues of Prop 30 to prop up the state’s budget deficits!

    Reply this comment
  7. Eric
    Eric 5 November, 2012, 08:46

    Bey-Ling, Good for You! I had to read the budget, understand this amendment to the constitution regarding realignment and so on. I came to the same assessment as well as conclusion as you. And i am quite the liberal for instance voting for Obama. This proposition and the recent history that led up to it has been deceitful. Long story short it has been a way to use Education’s name to get money for non-Education. Everyone in my liberal community is voting YES. The ends justify the means. What is funny is i do not buy the ends will even be achieved. So count on my NO vote on this as well as a Vote for Obama.

    Reply this comment
  8. Hondo
    Hondo 5 November, 2012, 12:26

    The good professor, Ms Sha, who is on the public pension gravy train, didn’t mention that huge stick in the spoke of the budget crisis. In San berdoo, I believe I read that the amount of money they pay for pensions has tripled since 2000, and is expected to be 4 times the 2000 amount in a few years. Like Obama said, “everyone has to have skin in the game”. The public unions such and the gravy train Ms. Sha is on, has to get some skin in the game. They are the highest paid teachers in the country, by state, and have some of the worst test scores.
    Tell me Ms. Sha, how much is you pension over 100k right now and how much have you spiked it already?
    Ms. Sha, spiking your pension is stealing from kids.
    Hondo…………

    Reply this comment
  9. StevefromSacto
    StevefromSacto 5 November, 2012, 14:01

    “Why is this person being allowed to shill for more taxes on this site?”

    Gee, eyeamok, are you against free speech or are you just worried about getting confused by the facts?

    Reply this comment
  10. Bob
    Bob 5 November, 2012, 15:56

    Sorry, Bey-Ling.

    I voted no on 38 (and 30 as well).

    Colliefornia (as Ahnode calls it) already has a 9.3% marginal income rate that kicks in at around $48k. No other state has anything approaching this.

    Under the tax increase you want to see that would increase to nearly 11%.

    This is just insane, Bey-Ling.

    11% is far more than most rich people in other states pay.

    The schools already get a huge amount of money. The schools in this state have all sorts of problems but not enough money is not one of them.

    Reply this comment
  11. P. Possum
    P. Possum 5 November, 2012, 19:55

    Once again we have special taxes for special people with special projects. A pox on all your houses. Apparently the Prop 98 40%+ of the budget was not enough to fund all the new administrator positions for the teachers who didn’t enjoy teaching. Apparently the special disposition of lottery funds to schools was insufficient to keep up with the failure to require actual funding of teacher pensions. Now we have to put up with more taxes to support a failed system, a system where teacher unions veto district participation in federal funds because those funds might accidentally require some level of accountability. By the way, even those federal funds come out your taxpaying wallet.

    Reply this comment
  12. Calman
    Calman 5 November, 2012, 20:29

    In response to eyeamok:

    Where do you come up with $30K funding for each pupil in California? There isn’t a state in the U.S. that has that kind of funding. The problem is that Californians are more concerned about incarcerating citizens than educating them. Let’s think outside of the box and actually invest in our future by supporting education and stop being short sighted and thinking only about ourselves. That’s what got us into the economic downturn that we are currently in.

    Reply this comment
  13. JLSeagull
    JLSeagull 5 November, 2012, 21:44

    Dr. Sha, Your argument against Prop 30 is very convincing and I will be voting against it. But I will also be voting against the fraud that is Prop 38.
    TV ads for Prop 38 say that all the money will go to grades K-12 and law makers will not be able to touch it. BULL HOCKEY!!! Read the Legislative Analyst’s analysis in the Voter Information Guide.
    1) $3+ Billion of the $10 Billion raised every year through FY 2016-2017 will go to pay off current General Fund Education Bonds thereby freeing up a similar amount for use by other general fund projects. (Visions of Lottery money, anyone).
    2) 51.6% of the funds will go to fund Early Childhood Education (ECE), ages 3-5.
    3) 16.6% of the funds will go to fund programs from birth to age 3.
    That’s 68.2% of the funds going to kids NOT in grades 1-12.

    So let’s do some simple arithmetic. $10B in new taxes – $3B for education bonds – $5.16B for ages 3-5 ECE -$1.66B for ages birth to 3 years leaves $180 million for grades 1-12.
    With all due respect, Dr. Sha, I don’t know what field your PhD is in but it surely is NOT in mathamatics.
    I may be wrong but it would appear that the mathematical abilities of our educators is symptomatic of what is wrong with the education of California students.

    Reply this comment
  14. Bubba
    Bubba 7 November, 2012, 09:50

    The problem with the education system and related monies in this state for it is that far too many are receiving “free” education for which they have contributed no monies for. Example free schooling for Illegal Aliens, in state college tuition rates for Illegal Aliens (While Active Duty Military non residents have to pay out of state rates).
    This state has turned into one big black hole where the freeloaders get all the benefits and the taxpayers get the shaft!
    And for prop 13, my property taxes are high enough already thank you very much. I don’t need Gov. Moonbeam squandering anymore of my money. Of course “no one knew his record”. Ran California in bankruptcy during previous terms as Gov. Ran city of Oakland into bankruptcy and on and on. Jerry Brown is nothing more than a puppet for higher taxes and his union friends who keep electing him.
    With passage of Prop. 30 Prop. Z (Billion dollar bond for the “Schools”)etc. How much money do the schools need? From what I read it seems that very little of monies designated for schools actually goes to the schools. Most of monies go to administration and administers.

    All you educators seem to be out of touch with real world issues. Too much time living in your kingdom of academia no doubt!

    So Dr. Sha go cry in your glass of wine with all the rest of your liberal Phd friends and send your kids to a private school if you are so “concerned” about their education! Obviously you must have enough money for that since you advocate higher taxes?

    Reply this comment
  15. Jane
    Jane 7 November, 2012, 18:00

    Why would anyone send their children to schools where they will be indoctrinated by the slumlord and foreign rich sector to be good little Marxist servants?

    Ms. Sha, why are you being sucked in by people who don’t like you and see you and your family as a means to enrtich themselves amd friends while they take and tax away your power?

    I thought educated people were supposed to be able to figure out when they were being used.

    Reply this comment
  16. Jane
    Jane 7 November, 2012, 18:02

    I see that Ms. Sha is a university serf, toiling away while the slumlord class runs the university to enrich themselves.

    Ms. Sha, you are being used. Do you understand that?

    Reply this comment
  17. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 7 November, 2012, 23:01

    Well, Prop. 38 and Molly got what they deserved. The Governor outsmarted them–good.

    Reply this comment
  18. Jeffrey
    Jeffrey 8 November, 2012, 10:40

    Very sad turn for California that Prop 30 passed. Once again throwing money that people work hard to hear for their families is instead being thrown into the pockets of administrators that make more than the average doctor or lawyer. Education already gets over 48 billion dollars a year, more then the entire gross domestic product of several state. With this passing prices on everything will be going up, meaning less money in the economy and reduced job growth or worse. Schools boards need to use their funds properly not get more off the backs of the people of the state.

    Reply this comment

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