Thursday, March 04, 2010

My Two Cents to Our State Senators - Sent on the 4 March Day of Action


I work for the California State University system at San Francisco State. I'm also the PTA president of my sons' elementary school.

I'm very disappointed with the existing climate for funding in public education across the board. It appears to me that the good people of California have abandoned public education as a public good. This is clearly demonstrated by the massive cuts to fund education at all levels.

Frankly, it's the responsibility of good governement to fund education to excel, not simply to function as a placeholder (or glorified babysitter) for students. I suggest we invert the budget process as we know exactly how much great schools, colleges and universities cost. We compose the budget at the grass roots level, you fund it. Not the other way round, where you parcel out whatever meager funds and require the schools and colleges to deal with it.

As students, parents, faculty and staff are preparing to raise public awareness of the destructive effects that budget cuts have had on public education, workforce development, and the state economy, I am writing to implore you to support Governor Schwarzenegger’s budget proposal that includes the restoration all monies to public education. This will mean great sacrifice, to perhaps even your salaries. But if you want a talented pool of adults to emerge from our great schools, you have to fund it.

I was at the Town Hall meeting in February, and was encouraged by many of the ideas put out there in terms of how to raise funds for public education. This should also be wrangled for the Community College as well as the CSU and the UC.

Because people suggest strongly that they don't want more taxes is no excuse for the crumbling and dismantling of educational operations across the board. I won't accept it. Living in this great State as well as the United States doesn't come for free. To go from tops in the nation to foisting the budget calamity on the backs of our students is irresponsible and an indicator that the government doesn't have it's priorities properly set. I'm angry, not because I work in the system, but because the current fiscal situation basically risks our future outright.

Your actions speak loudly. Make them count by advancing the cause and voting appropriately otherwise we won't vote for you. Reducing the 2/3rds requirement to make budget decisions seems wise. Fixing the corporate landlord loophole in Prop 13 also wise. Leno's idea of a 1% surcharge on all entertainment dollars also seems wise. How can we have a lower dollar expense than Guam on arts education when we live in the entertainment capital of the globe?

The numbers are ugly and you cannot put lipstick on a pig to make her look snazzy enough to kiss. Any way you slice it, we have to begin to appeal to the good people of our great State, and suggest to them that the burden of responsibility rests with the people. It's your job to lead us, and I'm not shirking my responsibility to hold your feet to the fire.

Simply because a California resident doesn't have kids in a public school or attending one of the outstanding state universities doesn't mean that s/he shouldn't care about the climate for public education across the various systems. In fact, we all should care more because the system churns out creative and inventive adults, that will hopefully result in fantastic employees for the foreseeable future.

Continue in the direction we are headed, and you might as well start investing in more jails. And I know which investment I would rather make. Schools and education improve society: not more prisons. Perhaps now is the time to consider a complete inversion of our budgetary priorities - convert jails to schools, and educate the inmates rather than simply incarcerate them. Then you may find that education is the key remedy to many ills.

Blog on friends. Blog on all.

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