PD Editorial: Don't punish schools more: Yes on 30

  • (TOM MEYER / meyertoons.com)

Gov. Jerry Brown raised a political ruckus this week with the airing of five television commercials urging voters to support Proposition 30. The ads give the clear impression that the money raised from the measure must be spent in classrooms and can’t be siphoned away by legislators for other purposes.

This is largely true because Proposition 98’s minimum-funding levels require that a certain percentage of state revenue go to education. But in fact there is no lock box. Proposition 30 would free up money that could be spent by legislators for other purposes. But given this newspaper’s historic opposition to ballot-box budgeting and silo-funding measures — as well as silo-thinking in Sacramento — we hardly consider this a flaw.

What we see as flawed is the partisan caterwauling that has left California’s schoolchildren at the center of a political “War or the Roses.” And the situation is about to get worse. The governor can’t say for certain what will happen with each dollar if Proposition 30 passes. But here’s what every resident can be certain will happen if it fails:

Schools from kindergarten to high school will suffer funding cuts of $5 billion. That is equivalent to losing 15 more instructional days. The school year in California is already at the bare minimum with just 175 school days, less in some districts. This would leave California with the shortest school year in the nation and well behind those of many countries.

This funding reduction would be on top of $20 billion in cuts that schools have already experienced over the past four years, resulting in growing class sizes, elimination of music and art programs and decimation of sports programs, library and counseling services and some core curriculum offerings.

Community colleges such as Santa Rosa Junior College would lose $300 million. This is on top of a 12 percent cut in state funding since 2008.

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