On Education: The fate of schools is in voters' hands

October 11, 2012|By Megan O'Neil

This post has been updated, see below for details.

The hum of a half-dozen telephone conversations percolated through Glendale Teachers Assn. headquarters in Montrose on a recent afternoon. Union members are gathering on a near daily basis to call voters and draw attention to two major education-related state propositions that will appear on the November ballot.

Proposition 32 would limit the political clout of unions in Sacramento by prohibiting the use of payroll-deducted funds for political purposes. It is framed as a means to temper the influence of special interest groups. Corporate-fueled Super PACs, meanwhile, would be free to go about their business.


“Individually, I can't compete with these folks in terms of my involvement in politics, but if I go through my union, yes,” said Paul Noto — who has taught science at Glendale High School for 18 years — between calls to voters. “I think that when it comes to teachers and teachers unions, our special interests really are the kids and our schools and public education.”

The proposition should sound familiar. California voters have rejected something similar twice before.

Also on the teachers' agenda is Proposition 30, which temporarily increases the sales tax by a quarter-cent and personal income taxes on those earning more than $250,000 annually. It is expected to generate $6 billion a year for the next five years, with a portion of it to be used to patch holes in kindergarten through community college education funding.

Glendale Unified will likely be issuing layoff notices come spring, with or without the additional tax revenue. District officials have already announced that they will need to absorb $5.4 million in cuts by Dec. 15. School board members in June approved a $167.7-million budget for 2012-13.

What the failure of Prop. 30 would produce is an additional $12-million midyear cut to Glendale schools, according to Eva Lueck, the district's chief business and financial officer.

In short, the options for voters are bad or worse.

“If Prop. 30 doesn't pass, then we are not going to have funding for schools,” said Phyllis Miller, who teaches fourth grade at Dunsmore Elementary School. “We are going to lose about $550 per student in Glendale and we can't afford to take a hit like that.”

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