Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Why is this man smiling? Who are these people – and why are they clapping?

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger holds a copy of the 2008-2009 state budget after signing it during a small ceremony in his Sacramento office. Representatives from California counties stand behind the governor. (Steve Yeater / Associated Press / September 23, 2008)

LONG AGO, earlier this year in a meeting room in Sacramento the legislation team from the State PTA met and discussed the state budget as it impacts Education and the Welfare of Children - back when the budget was first proposed. Before the May Revise. Before the Crisis of 85 days. We were strong and we had powerful friends on our side: the legislative majority, almost a million members who are united and vocal - every one a likely voter. We had The Truth on our side; we were in the majority and we were set out to do the right thing for kids and the future of the state.

We also knew that politics is the Art of Compromise - and that ultimately we and the children would be compromised by our legislative friends. The Republican minority had signed a pledge to Not Raise Taxes …and we knew that that was not the workable option. That determination was shared by our friends and ultimately by the governor himself - we shared his dedication to reach a long term solution rather than a quick fix to postpone the crisis to next year. We were committed in his proclaimed  Year of Education Reform to NOT do things the way things had always been done.

Now as the dust clears, we and the children have been compromised. The governor claims that Education has been kept whole - but Education hasn't been whole since 1978. It has been cut and reduced and slashed and nibbled at since the passage of Proposition 13. Proposition 98, which is supposed to be the floor for Education funding is looked at as being the ceiling by most - and as being an outrageous burden on the taxpayers by a few. It was that few who won in the end. Taxes were not raised. The problems were put off to next year. California moves a little lower into the Cellar of Education Funding, perhaps from 46th to 47th in the nation - it remains to be seen.

     2007 was the year of Healthcare Reform.

     2008 is the Year of Education Reform.

     2009 will be the Year of Budget Reform.

Don’t let me ruin it for you but I have a feeling I know how that turns out.

Onward nonetheless! - smf

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