CUSD’s Prop 30 endorsement is misguided

by Jeff Hammill

I believe the Claremont school board’s unanimous endorsement of Proposition 30 is proof that our board members are        victims of the “Stockholm Syndrome.”

This is not intended to disparage any individual board member or even the board as a whole, for they truly are captives. The board is the government’s first line of defense against angry parents and teachers’ unions. Yet Sacramento and Washington DC dictate the policy and control the purse strings. When was the last time you got to complain about education policy to a member of the assembly or congress at Trader Joe’s or on the soccer field?

Our school board and our schools are at the mercy of Sacramento. Mary, Steven, Jeff, Hilary and Sam don’t control the policy or the money. When we acknowledge that fact, their endorsement of Proposition 30 sounds like one of those resigned-to-their-plight hostage videos: “please meet our captors’ (in this case Governor Brown and the state Legislature) demands or terrible things will happen to us.”

How cynical can Sacramento get? First, the funds allegedly raised by Proposition 30 are based on certain economic assumptions, and we know how well that has worked in recent years. 

Second, the proposition does not guarantee the funds taken in will go to education. What the legislature and Governor Brown have done is prepare a budget based on an assumption that the tax increase will pass (that’s a little like making a major purchase based on the assumption your boss is going to give you a big raise next year, isn’t it?).

Then, in a cynical exercise of political power, the governor and his allies have then turned around and said: “If it doesn’t pass, the kids will get hurt.”  If you support Proposition 30, you are buying into the notion that politicians in Sacramento are really going to do what they say they are going to do.  

Oh, please. I agree that there have been significant cuts to public education in recent years. Perhaps those cuts have been too deep. What there has not been is a significant cut in the state of California’s overall spending.  Sacramento continues to be bloated and wasteful and now tries to use our children as pawns to support their bad behavior. Enough is enough. 

Okay, Jeff, you don’t like Prop 30, so what do we do about education funding? First, we stop supporting politicians of both parties who simply tell us they want to spend or “invest” more in education. That’s too simple and not realistic in today’s economic environment.

Second, we must reconsider the Prop 98 funding guarantee. This has provided inadequate education funding in the lean years, but over-funded education in the years when the state was flush with cash. The needs on the ground and the people’s ability to pay should dictate the level of funding, not some arbitrary percentage resulting from a well-crafted initiative campaign.

Third, the recent pro Measure CL campaign correctly identified “local control” as an important issue.  Billions of dollars are hijacked by Sacramento and Washington. 

An administrative “fee” is taken, then it is doled back to the states and localities with a slew of rules, regulations and mandates.  This is incredibly wasteful and inefficient. Aren’t we here in Claremont capable of deciding the best way to allocate education funding?

Do we need to make sure that children in Mississippi are as prepared for the world as children in Utah? Yes. Do we need to make sure they eat the same lunch with a Washington-dictated calorie count?  No.

Proposition 30 represents more of the same. It continues Sacramento’s hostage taking of our local school boards. It doesn’t really do what its proponents promise. It avoids any discussion of real education reform. Let’s make Sacramento deal with the real issues, not kick the can down the road. No on 30.



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