FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Flanked by children and backed by (from l.) CTA Secretary Treasurer Dean E. Vogel, Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell, CTA Vice President David A. Sanchez, and Parent Elizabeth A. Sassman, Moreno Valley Parent Amelia Juarez (at podium) tells reporters, "I want my daughter and every child in California to get the education they are entitled to...I believe the governor should follow the law and return money to the public schools based on the law and his agreement. A promise made should be a promise kept...."
SACRAMENTO – The California Teachers Association, Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell and California public school parents announced today that they have filed a lawsuit against Governor Schwarzenegger to restore funding for California's public schools and community colleges. The suit charges the governor with failing to provide the minimum school funding guaranteed under voter-approved Proposition 98 and mandated by the state constitution.
The petition filed in Sacramento Superior Court states that schools have been funded for the 2004-05 and 2005-06 fiscal years at a combined level of $3.1 billion below what is required by state law, Chapter 213 of the Statues of 2004. It charges Governor Schwarzenegger and Director of Finance Tom Campbell with ignoring the state constitution and Chapter 213 and improperly calculating the funding due K-14 education for fiscal years 2004-05 and 2005-06. It asks the court to order that those amounts be recalculated as required by law.
"The complaint filed today is meant to force the governor to honor his word, the will of the people, and to ensure California students get no less than the minimum school funding guaranteed under our constitution," said CTA Vice President David A. Sanchez. "The governor hasn't just broken a promise, he's broken the law."
In January 2004, the governor made an agreement with the entire education community. He said if public schools gave $2 billion to help balance the budget, that money would be restored when revenues increased. State revenues increased and under the agreement, Proposition 98 and Chapter 213, schools were entitled to a share of those additional revenues. By refusing to uphold the law, the governor shortchanged schools by $1.8 billion in 2004-05, above and beyond the $2 billion agreed to reduction. The governor then used those unlawfully-low figures to calculate the school funding guarantee for 2005-06, reducing school funding by an estimated $1.3 billion in 2005-06. The governor's actions not only shortchange current students, but also have a cumulative and illegal effect on future school budgets.
"That $3.1 billion would enable us to keep 100 schools open that are slated to be closed, save class size reduction in all K-3 programs and extend that program to the fourth grade, provide twice as much professional development for teachers next year and double the amount of new textbooks available for our children," said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell. "California will not move forward unless we invest in our schools. I hope this lawsuit will lead the governor to keep his agreement with California's school children."
"In Moreno Valley, where we are growing by more than 1,000 students each year, lack of money is a major problem. Class sizes are increasing and we are down to bare bones when it comes to assisting kids," said Moreno Valley parent Amelia Juarez, who signed the petition on behalf of her four children. "I believe the governor should follow the law and return money to the public schools based on the law and his agreement. A promise made should be a promise kept. Our kids deserve the best."
"I want my daughter and every child in California to get the education they are entitled to," said Lysa Sassman, a Grass Valley parent and petition plaintiff. "Unfortunately, the governor's broken promises are hurting our children and our schools. The children of today are the leaders of tomorrow. If we don't prepare them for that job, who will?"
Read the petition filed in Superior Court.
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