Vote down propositions

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The special election Governor Schwarzenegger has called for November 8 could have devastating consequences for teachers, students and public education in California. The governor’s so-called reform agenda will lead to more cuts to education at all levels and will weaken the ability of teachers and others to fight those cuts. At the heart of the governor’s agenda are three measures that directly attack teachers and schools. Proposition 74, the Blame Teachers Act, seeks to make scapegoats of the state’s 305,000 public schoolteachers. The governor wants to strip teachers of basic due process protections and extend the probationary period for teachers to five years. This comes on the heels of a broken promise to restore billions in funding he borrowed from our schools last year. When California needs to recruit 100,000 new teachers over the next few years, Governor Schwarzenegger instead seems to be trying to drive teachers away. Proposition 74 will cost millions of dollars to implement and do nothing to actually improve education. The governor should instead focus on reforms that work, like smaller class sizes, up to date textbooks for every student, and quality teacher training.

Proposition 75 is an attempt to silence teachers, nurses, firefighters, and other public employees. Disguised as a measure protecting workers, its hidden agenda is really to make it much easier for the governor to cut education, health care, and public safety. By requiring annual individual written consent for those groups to use any portion of their members’ dues on political issues, the governor and his allies hope to stop teachers and others from getting our message out and opposing cuts to vital services. The measure unfairly targets only public unions, and lets the governor’s corporate contributors continue to freely outspend unions 24 to 1. If Proposition 75 passes, who will speak out against cuts devastating to schools and other key programs? If the governor has his way, no one will.

A third measure, Proposition 76, would grant Governor Schwarzenegger and all future governors unprecedented state budget powers. It would allow him to declare a fiscal emergency anytime he wants, and then make across the board cuts. Those cuts would further decimate our schools and increase already skyrocketing university fees. Proposition 76 would eliminate the system of checks and balances that provides California students with at least some level of protection. It would cut $4 billion from K-12 schools every year, and the universities won’t be far behind. The governor has already shown he can’t be trusted on school funding issues; there is no reason to grant him even more power now.

The upcoming election is wildly unpopular; the majority of Californians believe it is wasteful and the issues being considered could wait until the next regularly scheduled election. But the danger of an unpopular special election is low voter turnout: if people don’t like the election they may be less likely to show up to vote.

If we stand together, we will send a clear message to the governor that it’s time to stop attacking teachers, firefighters, nurses and other public employees and time to begin working with the legislature on reforms that actually work.

Harry M. Keily, president

Santa Monica Malibu Classroom Teachers Assn.