Big picture


This letter was addressed to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.


very year you hear the same complaints from parents regarding cuts in school programs. Yet each year the cuts continue and go deeper into the education programs throughout California. Sometimes parents are accused of not looking at the bigger picture; not realizing that the state faces hard decisions and short falls in being able to meet all of its obligations. This type of statement could be no further from the truth. As a parent, I am sure you know this to be true.

Parents, grandparents and guardians of children get the big picture. They live the big picture and they understand that children are our future! During last year’s budget cycle, parents agreed to fund schools at a lower rate based on the state’s situation. It is not okay to break the promise from last year. What kind of modeling is this for our children? What kind of message are we sending to them? The message for children should be clear and it should demonstrate in every way that adults value them as important members of our society and therefore they are recognized as important enough for us to find a solution to the horrendous way we continue to inadequately fund their public education.

There can be no better investment in a productive future for society and the state than to invest in our children’s education. Again and again research has demonstrated that paying the upfront cost of education is much more economical than supporting a generation of children that grow up without access to quality jobs and opportunities because of a poor education. The real costs will be passed on to the welfare programs, the criminal justice system and a multitude of social services.

California has the highest educational standards in the country. We are ranked the 7th largest economy in the world and yet we are willing to settle for a third-class educational system, and a system that continuously puts our educational accountability at risk. We complain about the system, but rather than fix it we continue to divert money away from it, or we burden it with additional unfunded requirements that increase the cost to doing business. You don’t have to be a first-rate economist to figure out that just doesn’t compute, or ensure an improved quality education.

Year after year, the adults in Sacramento argue about who is to blame, what are the real numbers and, unfortunately, the end result is that kids, education and our future pay the price. Wherever our state ranks nationally, we know we are not in the top 20 and yet we are the 7th largest economy in the world. We should be ashamed. Every third-world country understands that their future is dependent on investing enough in their educational system. California understood that we needed to develop a Master Plan for a quality education. We have done that, but now it is time for implementation. It is time to walk the talk. It will take courageous leaders to say, “Enough is enough”. No more blame game. Let’s get on with the work of how we can fund a first-class educational system. I am hopeful that you will be one of those leaders. I know first-hand how much you care about education.

Businesses throughout the state know that to ensure a positive business environment they must understand the delicate balance between the cost of doing business and the quality of the products they provide. It is no different in education. The amount of money we put into development and the cost of doing business has a direct affect on the product. If you don’t like the product and you want the product to improve, then you invest in its development, you don’t take money away and add additional burdens to the cost of doing business.

I implore you to get away from everyone’s rhetoric and just continue to visit our local schools and see how hard everyone is working with less. Realize that you can only hold your finger over the holes in the dam for just so long without it bursting. Honor the people and pay back the borrowed money from Proposition 98. Don’t add additional unfunded expenses to the already overburdened and inadequate educational funding system. Begin the process of implementing the recommendations of the Education Master Plan and ensure a quality education for every California student.

Public education is the cornerstone of a democracy. Please be part of the solution. Our children and our future society are counting on you!

Pam Brady

Vice President of Leadership Service for the California PTA