By CTA President David A. Sanchez
Once again we find ourselves on the precipice of an enormously pivotal moment for public education in California. The upcoming special election on May 19 will decide the fate of our schools and whether or not Props. 1A-1F will be approved by Californians. It is clear that all these measures are inextricably tied together. If we don't pass them all, the result will be a $23 billion revenue hole, which can only result in deeper cuts to education, children's health care, public safety, and programs for seniors and the disabled — programs we all care about.
As you know, the state budget approved by lawmakers cuts more than $11.6 billion from our public schools and colleges. In March, more than 27,000 pink slips were mailed to teachers, counselors, librarians and nurses. And that doesn't include the cafeteria workers, school safety personnel, custodians and bus drivers who can be let go at any time and still face layoffs. And it can get worse if the initiatives don't pass.
We did an amazing job of coming together at our Pink Friday events on March 13. Our rallies — staged all across the state — went a long way in spotlighting the issues that educators and our students face. Community members everywhere heard our voices and joined us in standing up for schools. They know that these budget cuts have been devastating to our students, our members and our schools. They've heard the stories we told, both at our Pink Friday events and on our event website. And members continue to bring awareness to the budget issue at www.standupforschools.org, giving real-life accounts of the devastation — art, music, career technical education and physical education programs eliminated; districts shutting down libraries; classroom sizes on the verge of exploding. We know that the people of California care, and now we must let them know that voting yes on Props. 1A-1F is the way to Stand Up For Schools.
CTA is recommending that you support Propositions 1A-1F in the May 19 special election. It is crucial that we get out the word to encourage colleagues, friends and family members to vote yes on Props. 1A-1F. These initiatives will begin to repay our schools and colleges some of the money that was cut and what is owed to education under law. It will allow local districts to keep smaller class sizes, rehire educators who've been laid off, restore art, music and physical education classes and buy up-to-date textbooks. Share the voter guide that we've provided and pass it around to friends and family members who support education and will turn out for the vote. With only four weeks to go, this election will be about who gets out to vote.
The future of our state depends on the investment we make in our public schools. Our economic recovery and stability depend on a well-educated workforce. High-quality public education unquestionably leads to more prosperous, productive and healthy communities.
It may just be symbolic that the special election that will decide the fate of California schools comes in May — the month when we celebrate Day of the Teacher and Education Support Professionals Day — and that the deadline for final layoffs is set for May 15. Let's change California for the better in May. Let's be the catalyst for change in government this special election. Let's help turn our state around by investing in its future.
Continue to use www.standupforschools.org as a resource to get the word out about how important this election is. There are 9 million students in California, and 9 million reasons to vote YES on Props. 1A-1F. I'm personally voting YES because I'm tired of our schools ranking 47th in per-pupil funding while living in the eighth-largest economy in the world. What's your reason?