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By Julian Peeples

Institutional racism and racial discrimination have no place in our schools and communities, and California’s educators are leading the fight for social and racial justice in our governmental systems and structures, including opposing the extreme and wasteful Proposition 20.

Illustration of person sitting on stool behind a row of bars with the words Vote No 20 framing the bars.Prop. 20, the prison spending scam, would add crimes to the list of violent felonies banning early parole, recategorize certain types of theft and fraud from misdemeanor to felony, and require DNA collection for certain misdemeanors. Far too many resources are already devoted to the lucrative prison-industrial complex that should instead be spent on rehabilitative and restorative programs in public schools and our communities.

The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office says Prop. 20 will cost millions annually when the state is experiencing monumental budget shortfalls. This could force draconian cuts to prerelease rehabilitation for inmates; mental health programs proven to reduce repeat crime; schools, health care, housing and homelessness programs; and support for victims.

“I’m voting No on Prop. 20 because I believe in investing in schools, not prisons,” says Rawan Fakhoury, a member of San Bernardino Teachers Association.

At a time when leaders are looking at serious criminal justice reform, Prop. 20 is a giant step backward, reclassifying petty crimes like stealing a bicycle to serious felonies. This extreme initiative rolls back progress achieved in reducing wasteful prison spending, eliminating funding for rehabilitation that works while locking up more teenagers and people of color for nonviolent crimes.

“Our students and communities deserve an equal and fair opportunity,” says CTA President E. Toby Boyd. “That’s why educators are voting No on Prop. 20.”

Visit the No on Prop. 20 website for resources and information on how to defeat this extreme initiative — because more incarceration is not a solution.