October 24, 2012
Ama Nyamekye | Executive Director, Educators 4 Excellence LA
On November 6, voters across California will cast ballots for two propositions aimed at raising much-needed revenue for our public schools. Propositions 30 and 38 would raise six billion and 11 billion dollars respectively for education by asking Californians to dig a little deeper into their own pockets. A recent USC/L.A. Times poll showed that half of voters are willing to do so, even as they themselves struggle to make ends meet, a sign of just how important a quality education is to our communities.
Educators 4 Excellence members strongly support these propositions because we’ve seen how cuts have led to shrinking resources, staff and time for instruction. We have also seen how inadequate funding has hampered the innovative work of grassroots, teacher-led reform. How can teachers design plans for turning around struggling campuses without having additional time for instruction and professional development? How can principals spend adequate time evaluating classroom instruction if we are cutting the support staff needed to help with safety and administration?
As educators and community members in California, we also understand what great schools mean for neighborhoods. A quality education increases lifetime earnings, reduces incarceration rates and improves health outcomes. In other words, education is the foundation on which the future builds its home.
However, voters in California want to know that revenue will be invested in improving student outcomes.
Sadly, expenditures in public education haven’t always yielded gains for our students or communities. We can’t inject these dollars into the failed policies of the past. Instead, we have an opportunity to use these dollars strategically to transform campuses and enable teachers to be more effective in the classroom.
Right now, in Los Angeles Unified School District, we have two unique opportunities to marry revenue with reform, something voters very much want to see. First, our district and union can move swiftly to agree on a system of evaluation and support rooted in student achievement. Second, our district and union can take full advantage of millions available in federal dollars. Through Race to the Top, our district and union can pursue up to $40 million for implementing professional development support and student enrichment programs that will improve teaching and learning. We need our union and district to show voters that we are serious about investing every dollar in student success. We simply cannot ask voters to pay more in taxes while the union and district walk away from this federal funding.
It has taken years for California to seriously consider raising its own taxes to invest in a school system that is 47th out of 50 states in per pupil spending. We don’t get this opportunity every day and we owe it to every voter, family and student to invest wisely in California’s future.
Source publication: Huffington Post