I spent this morning with colleagues at the local farmers market. We manned a table passing out last second information for CA Proposition 55. Prop 55 is ueber alles (more than anything else) to me and my colleagues when it comes to the 17 props legislating from the ballot box this fall.
I won’t hide the fact that I loathe the proposition process, as it has become bastardized over the past two decades. Rather than be used with rarity as designed, props have become big business in which wealthy interests (often from out of state) pay to gather signatures to drive legislation that normally doesn’t make it through the traditional legislative process in the state houses. But Prop 55 is an imperative for my profession.
Education in California weathered some tough years from 2008 to 2012. Before we started the Great Recession, California was ranked 42nd in the nation in per pupil funding and dead last in student to teacher ratio. By the time we passed Prop 30 in 2012, we had dropped to 51st in per pupil funding and remained horrifyingly overwhelmed with a bottomed out student to teacher ratio (my classes averaged 42 students). Prop 30 helped to stabilize the state budget and restore some of the cuts that had rocked public schools. But long term damage was done–enrollment in teacher preparation programs plummeted, many of the 30,000 laid off teachers moved elsewhere or changed professions, and hard to fill math, science, and special education positions grew even more difficult to fill. Prop 30 put us on a road to recovery, but we are far from recovered. We are stuck at 46th in per pupil funding.
So now the question before voters is whether to return us to the pre Prop 30 days or to help us continue on the road to recovery. Prop 55 extends the Prop 30 taxes for 12 more years, as our legislators continue to work on a way to fix the structural tax issues that have plagued our state for over 30 years. Let’s not punish kids to give tax cuts to the wealthiest among us. Vote YES on Prop 55.