For decades, we’ve seen generations of students and educators make do with fewer and fewer resources.
This is not acceptable in California, the world’s fifth-largest economy. But year after year, the state fails to provide adequate levels of funding for education. Instead, we get Band-Aid solutions to major issues such as reducing class sizes and making sure students have access to nurses and counselors at their schools.
Gov. Gavin Newsom just released his proposed 2020-21 budget, and while we applaud him for making critical investments in areas such as teacher preparation and retention, it’s not enough. Our state’s educational system has been hamstrung for the past 40 years by financial policies that reward large corporations with tax breaks while shortchanging schools and communities to the tune of $12 billion every year.
This happens because corporations take advantage of property tax loopholes to pay artificially low property taxes. When corporations don’t pay their fair share, schools don’t get the resources they need to educate our students.
This comes at the expense of homeowners, who used to pay about half of the property taxes in the state, but today contribute 72 percent. That’s why we made sure that the Schools and Communities First (SCF) initiative, heading to the November ballot, does not raise property taxes on residential property by a single dollar. We also made sure that small businesses and farms would not be unfairly impacted.
If passed, SCF would reclaim $12 billion every year for schools and local communities. It would close corporate property tax loopholes and ensure commercial and industrial properties are assessed at fair market value, while protecting residential property and small businesses.
CTA has committed to gathering 150,000 of the 1.6 million signatures needed to qualify SCF for the ballot. I’m asking all of you to sign the petition, and to talk to your colleagues, family and friends about signing as well. More information about SCF is at cta.org/taxfairness.
Meanwhile, California’s March 3 primary is upon us, and it’s critically important to pass Proposition 13 (not to be confused with 1978’s infamous property tax measure of the same name). Prop. 13, the School and College Facilities Bond, will authorize $15 billion for new facilities and modernization, including $9 billion for preschool and K-12, $4 billion for universities, and $2 billion for community colleges.
While we fight for education funding this election year, we celebrate as well. Last year in the state Legislature, we won major victories in charter school reform, curtailing decades of waste, fraud and abuse. Now in 2020 the CTA-backed legislation takes effect.
Effective Jan. 1, AB 1507 ends a loophole that allowed charters to operate outside of their authorizing school districts, and SB 126 requires charters to follow the same open meeting and records requirements as traditional public schools. Beginning in July, AB 1505 gives local school boards more authority over charters within their district boundaries, allows them to consider the fiscal and academic impact of a charter on the rest of the district, and ensures charter teachers are fully credentialed. Learn more about how these laws work and find useful resources at cta.org/charters.
Our goal is to ensure California distributes resources in a way that reflects the values of fairness and equity that we all hold dear, and to help our state deliver on the promise of a world-class education for our students.
E. Toby Boyd