Friday, August 31, 2012

YES ON PROP 38: Time to Fix California Schools

The Reporter: Opinion

By Paul Boghosian. Op-Ed in the Vacaville Reporter |

8/31/2012 01:05:25 AM PDT  ::  Before billions were cut from California's education budget, schools in my district were always staffed with a nurse to aid sick children, a librarian to help foster ideas and a counselor to point students in the right direction. Now, all of these positions have vanished and our children are paying the price.

Since 2008, political leaders have voted over and over to cut education funding by more than $20 billion. We've lost more than 40,000 educators and staffers, and California now has the largest class sizes of any state in the nation. Statistics like these are simply unacceptable for a state whose economy ranks within the top 10 largest in the world.

Proposition 38 is designed to restore the promise of education. Not only will Proposition 38 better equip schools to prepare students for the workforce, it will enable them to provide the well-rounded education California's schools were once renowned for. Proposition 38 achieves all of this through guaranteeing billions of dollars to local schools, averaging $10 billion annually over a 12-year period.

As a parent who put two children through the Vallejo City Unified School District and who now serves as the Napa/Solano County PTA president, I understand that each school and each district has its own set of needs. Under Proposition 38, schools have the autonomy to identify among parents, educators and the community their particular needs and apply the money accordingly.

Before serving as PTA chairman, while  serving as a school site council president, I tried to work librarians back into school site funds, which didn't always work. If Proposition 38 passes, it would generate $68 million for Napa/Solano schools during its first year of implementation alone. Using this money, we could restore not only full-time librarians, but nurses, counselors and even principals, which have been lost in some Napa/Solano schools.

The reason Proposition 38 is different from other measures is that it takes the power away from Sacramento politicians.

Proposition 38 ensures that the money raised never passes through the Capitol and is directly allocated to schools on a per-pupil basis. Based on current enrollment in Napa/Solano schools, this would mean that by the 2017-18 school year, our schools would receive more than $100 million. With money like this, our schools would be restored to their functionality, with money remaining to improve our technology and day-to-day performance.

Proposition 38 is not just about schools, either. By setting aside $3 billion annually through 2016-17, Proposition 38 will also reduce the state deficit by repaying state education bond debt. As a parent and education advocate, this deficit relief is important to me because it ensures that we do not end up in this predicament again and put future generations of students at risk of a substandard education.

If we don't reprioritize our schools, California will lack the skilled workforce necessary to strengthen our economy and compete in a competitive global market. Proposition 38 offers a comprehensive and inclusionary approach to restoring our schools and state's future. As Californians, we should all contribute something to improving our schools because we will all share in the benefits better schools will bring to our state's economy and quality of life.

  • The author, a Vallejo resident, is president of the California State PTA 18th District, which includes Solano County, is chairman of California State PTA district presidents.

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