CTA Files School Funding Initiative to Protect Students, Schools from Deeper Budget Cuts and Ensure Future Funding
CTA PRESS RELEASE
Contact: Sandra Jackson at 916-801-4776, Becky Zoglman at 916-296-5271 or Dina Martin at 415-710-6794
December 19, 2008 - BURLINGAME – As the ongoing state budget crisis forces billions of dollars in cuts to public education, the California Teachers Association today filed an initiative that would implement a one-cent sales tax to provide new, ongoing funding for public schools and colleges that cannot be cut, delayed or diverted by the governor or the Legislature.
“California’s budget process is broken and our students and schools are suffering the consequences,” said David A. Sanchez, president of the 340,000-member CTA. “More students are being squeezed into already overcrowded classrooms, more than 10,000 teachers and education support professionals have been layed off, while art, music, technical and vocational education programs are being eliminated. The future of an entire generation of students is at stake.”
Already ranking 46th in the nation in per-student funding, California schools and colleges have been cut by more than $3.5 billion in the past year and face another $4 billion in cuts under the budget plan approved Thursday by the Legislature. The Republican budget proposal would cut schools by $10 billion.
“School funding has been delayed for months on end while politicians fight over the state budget plan, and it’s clear that lawmakers are unable to reach agreement on raising the revenues needed to fund our schools. It’s time for stable and independent funding that cannot be cut by the Legislature or diverted for other uses,” continued Sanchez.
With strict accountability measures, the Public School Investment and Accountability Act would ensure that taxpayer money is directed toward student learning and focused in the classroom. The new $5 billion to $6 billion generated annually could be spent to reduce class sizes in all grades; provide adequate and up-to-date textbooks and materials; provide quality teacher training; hire additional counselors, librarians and critical education support staff; restore arts and career technical programs; and recruit and retain highly qualified teachers for every school. None of the money can be spent on administrative costs and any misuse of funds is punishable by law.
“One way to improve our economy is by providing businesses with a well-educated workforce. These budget cuts are forcing community colleges to turn away students who want to learn the skills needed to succeed in the workplace,” said Sanchez. “California must do better, our students deserve better, and our future depends on it.”
CTA filed the initiative in order to qualify for a possible special election in 2009. The State Council of Education, CTA’s top governing body comprised of more than 800 democratically elected educators from across the state, will determine how the initiative moves forward at its meeting in January.
Visit www.cta.org for additional information and to read the full text of the initiative.
The 340,000-member CTA is affiliated with the 3.2 million-member National Education Association.
FACT SHEET: The Public School Investment and Accountability Act
PURPOSE: California’s schools are in trouble. Because of the state budget crisis, education spending has been cut by billions of dollars. These cuts have left schools with overcrowded classrooms, out-of-date textbooks and too few teachers, counselors and other critical education staff. School funding has been delayed for months on end while politicians fight over the state budget, creating chaos for local districts and making planning nearly impossible.
Already ranking 46th in the nation in per-student funding, California’s schools and colleges have been cut by more than $3.5 billion in the past year, and face another $4 billion in cuts under the budget plan approved by the legislature Thursday. The Republican budget proposal would cut more than $10 billion from education. It is time for ongoing revenues to schools that cannot be cut, delayed, borrowed or diverted by the Legislature or governor.
California businesses need a well-educated workforce. Investing in our schools and providing that well-educated workforce is one way to improve our economy. We cannot afford to lose jobs to other states.
The Public School Investment and Accountability Act is a 1-cent sales tax that will generate new, ongoing resources to local school districts and community colleges. With strict accountability requirements, the Act requires independent audits to ensure funding is directed toward students’ learning and makes any misuse of funds punishable by law.
NEW REVENUE SOURCE: The Act creates a one-percent sales tax increase effective January 1, 2010. It generates $5 billion to $6 billion annually. These funds are independent of Proposition 98 funding. Eighty-nine percent of funds go to K-12 schools, and 11 percent to community colleges. Funds will be distributed to school districts based on student average daily attendance.
HOW NEW FUNDS CAN BE USED: The new funds are solely for instructional and student improvement purposes and can only be used for the following in K-12 schools:
- Reducing class sizes in all grades beyond levels provided under current state programs with the intent of lowering pupil-teacher ratios to no more than 20:1 for K-3 classrooms, and 25 students or less in grades 4-12.
- Providing all students the opportunity for essential programs like art, music, career technical and vocational education.
- Providing direct student services, including hiring additional school counselors, librarians and nurses.
- Providing instructional supplies and equipment, including computers and technology.
- Providing quality staff training that is designed and implemented by teachers and other educators, and creating shared planning time for teachers during the school day by grade or subject matter so teachers can work together to improve student learning.
- Creating safe and secure learning environments for students and staff.
- Increasing salaries to recruit and retain quality teachers and education support professionals. (This includes all certificated and classified staff, and college faculty.)
- No money generated by the Act can be used on school administrative costs.
Eleven percent of the funds goes to community colleges and can be spent on:
- Providing instructional supplies, equipment, material and services to improve campus conditions.
- Providing individual assessment and counseling to help design curriculum around each student.
- Faculty development training that improves instruction and effectiveness.
- Providing compensation for faculty and counseling staff.
STRICT ACCOUNTABILITY: California schools must become more efficient and transparent in spending taxpayer dollars. The Act:
- Prohibits the legislature and the governor from taking, cutting or diverting the funds away from education.
- Requires the state controller to provide for an annual, independent financial audit of the Public School Investment and Accountability Fund to ensure compliance with the Act.
- Requires local school districts to verify funds have been spent as required by the Act.
- Requires audit results to be summarized in an easily understandable form and posted for the public to review on the California Department of Education website as well as on local school district websites.
- Authorizes the California attorney general to seek civil or criminal penalties for any misuse of funds.