Measure E Will Continue Excellence in Our Schools

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school-musicby Barbara Archer, et al –

GUEST COMMENTARY – We are at a crossroads for education in California. Unfortunately, we live in a state that does not fund education well and has been deeply affected by the economic crisis.

But we in Davis have always been a solution-oriented band of folks. We have supplemented our public education system going back to 1984 with school parcel taxes.

Davis is not alone in efforts like this. Communities all over California have done the same. We in Davis have chosen as a community to preserve music, athletics, science, the arts and libraries. We have chosen to preserve broad course offerings to produce well rounded students.

For many, our excellent schools are the reason they settled in Davis. For others, this is why they stay in Davis – stable home values and a safe community due in large part to an outstanding school system.

Since 2007, Davis Joint Unified has lost $10 million in funding from the state. The district has closed a school. Teachers and administrators took pay cuts. Class sizes increased. This is no longer a matter of “trimming the fat.” There is none left.

Measure E on the ballot this November (absentee ballots coming to voters now) seeks to preserve what we have in place and stem the tide of cuts that are expected to rain down on  California schools if Prop 30 fails.

First, Measure E renews Measure A that provides $3.2 million of funding to our district. This piece of Measure E simply renews what Davis homeowners currently pay to support our schools. Renewal of Measure A amounts to about $17 a month.

Renewing the Measure A piece of Measure E is significant as it funds:

  • Reduced class sizes for K-6, English and math
  • Availability of classes in core subjects such as science and history
  • Availability of multiple foreign language programs
  • Availability of elective course offerings, such as fine art and Career Technical Education
  • Retaining counseling staffing
  • Continued targeted achievement support in reading and math
  • Continued availability of school site safety and support staff

The opposition will say that Measure A was supposed to be an emergency tax. We are still in a fiscal state of emergency. In fact, it’s worse that what it was 2 years ago when Measure A was passed.

Measure E also provides for a contingency tax if Prop 30 fails. If Prop 30 fails, there would be immediate cuts of $3.7 million this school year in our district.

So, to recap: Davis homeowners currently pay about $43 per month to fund Davis schools with Measures A and C.

Measure E seeks to keep that amount steady by renewing Measure A. If and only if Prop 30 fails, Measure E adds a $20 per month for a total of $63 a month to fund K-12 education in Davis. If Prop 30 passes, the amount homeowners currently pay does not change.

There is no “free lunch” when it comes to funding education. Homeowners in other states like New York and New Jersey pay massive property taxes to fund education. In states where property taxes are lower and schools are not funded well, some parents choose to send students to private schools. Some parents and community members choose to contribute to their home district.

The point is you end up paying somewhere along the line to provide for a good education. $43 a month (or $63 depending on the outcome of Prop 30) will continue to provide for excellence in Davis schools.

We cannot imagine what $6.9 million of cuts in one year would look like (on top of the $10 million we have already lost over the last five years).  It will be catastrophic. All cuts are on the table at this point – school closures, massive layoffs, extensive reductions in core programs.

The Davis community has chosen time and time again to support excellence in education. We thank Davisites for continually stepping up to ensure that Davis students have a well rounded education. Excellent schools make our town a great place to live – for parents, for homeowners and most of all, for students.

Those of us signing this letter come from different perspectives in our lives. Some of us are parents of current students in our schools. Some of us attended Davis schools.  Some of us have kids who have graduated from our schools recently or long ago. Some of us do not have kids that went through the school system at all.

We may come from different places, but we all believe in the power of public education.

Please join us in voting Yes on Measure E and Proposition 30.

  • Barbara Archer, DJUSD parent
  • Chad DeMasi, DJUSD parent
  • J.D. Denton, parent of DJUSD alum, owner, Fleet Feet
  • Lori Duisenberg, DJUSD parent
  • Delaine Eastin, former California State Superintendent of Public Instruction and Davis resident
  • Kim Eichorn, DJUSD alum, parent of DJUSD alums
  • Lisa Haass, DJUSD parent
  • Cathy Farman , DJUSD parent
  • Hiram Jackson, DJUSD parent
  • Heather Lybbert, DJUSD parent
  • Jeff Simons, owner, Watermelon Music and DJUSD parent
  • Judith Simpson Schreider, parent of DJUSD alums, Davis resident
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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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33 thoughts on “Measure E Will Continue Excellence in Our Schools”

  1. Steve Hayes

    “…..Since 2007, Davis Joint Unified has lost $10 million in funding from the state…..”

    I remember Florence Henderson’s smiling face back in the 1980s as she shilled for the establishment and implementation of the California State Lottery System. She closed her sales pitch with “Our kid’s win too!”

    The Lottery is now a big business and a profit maker for the State! What the h*** has happened to “our kids share!” of the “winnings!”

  2. David M. Greenwald

    From the Washington Post:

    [quote]If you look at the payouts from lotteries to schools, you might be impressed by the numbers. In California, for example, all lottery donations to public schools from kindergarten through college, total $24,018,713,472 since 1985. Yes, that’s $24 billion. K-12 schools alone have received a total of $19.3 billion.

    It makes you wonder how some California public schools have had to hold bake sales to keep the lights on, doesn’t it?

    In fact, in state after state, where lotteries send millions of dollars to public education, schools are still starved. Why?

    Because instead of using the money as additional funding, legislatures have used the lottery money to pay for the education budget and spent the money that would have been used had there been no lottery cash on other things. Public school budgets, as a result, haven’t gotten a boost because of the lottery funding.[/quote]

  3. rusty49

    “Because instead of using the money as additional funding, legislatures have used the lottery money to pay for the education budget and spent the money that would have been used had there been no lottery cash on other things. Public school budgets, as a result, haven’t gotten a boost because of the lottery funding.”

    That’s CA Democrats in action for you. What did you expect?

  4. Ryan Kelly

    If our monthly water rates went up by 30%, there would be howls of protest. The community has made it impossible to publicly oppose this tax without being labeled a little crazy. So many people are remaining quiet. Meanwhile, the teacher’s Union is unwilling to budge. My question is “What should families cut from their budgets to pay for this tax – a weeks worth of food, gas for the family car, new shoes or a new coat, internet service, a cell phone for one family member, or some other luxury?”

  5. Frankly

    [i]”Democrats have run both the State House and Senate the last 15 years”[/i]

    Right Rusty!

    And… most of the Republicans have been RINOs… otherwise they would not be elected in this the most lefty state in the union.

    [i]If our monthly water rates went up by 30%, there would be howls of protest. The community has made it impossible to publicly oppose this tax without being labeled a little crazy. So many people are remaining quiet. Meanwhile, the teacher’s Union is unwilling to budge. My question is “What should families cut from their budgets to pay for this tax – a weeks worth of food, gas for the family car, new shoes or a new coat, internet service, a cell phone for one family member, or some other luxury?”[/i]

    I agree Ryan. But, it is for the kids. It is always for the kids.

    Right…

  6. Mr.Toad

    As Bill Cosby said “They are buying things for kids – $500 sneakers for what? And won’t spend $200 for ‘Hooked on Phonics.’ “

    So Ryan in homage to Cos, with whom I once played football, I might suggest giving up high end sneakers as at starting point. Its all about priorities.

  7. trudave

    “My question is “What should families cut from their budgets to pay for this tax – a weeks worth of food, gas for the family car, new shoes or a new coat, internet service, a cell phone for one family member, or some other luxury?”

    Some more suggestions-the daily (or even weekly) Starbucks and/or Peet’s trip, dinners out, cable tv and/or Netflix, using the clothes dryer when it’s hot out, new clothes more often than about twice a year, a house cleaner. We have cut out almost all of these, if we had them in the first place. This allows us to give a hefty donation to the Davis Schools Foundation every year in addition to paying the school tax. It’s worth it. YES ON E!!!

  8. Frankly

    [i]-the daily (or even weekly) Starbucks and/or Peet’s trip[/i] = fewer jobs needed for Pete’s and Starbucks

    [i]dinners out[/i] = fewer chef, cook, waiter, hostest jobs needed.

    [i]cable tv and/or Netflix[/i] = fewer jobs for the people selling and maintaining these systems needed.

    [i]new clothes[/i] = Fewer retail employes needed.

    [i]house cleaner[/i] = Fewer jobs for people that clean houses.

    Yup – that’s how you fix the fiscal mess. Stop spending money on the private economy so you can dump more into the Dem-controlled political apparatus so they can continue to over-spend on the public-sector.

  9. Ryan Kelly

    Mr. Toad and trudave – Well, good for you. You made these choices and have given your donation. A tax is not a donation. It is forced and not a choice.

    I am not a Republican and don’t align myself with Jeff’s political leanings, but I am offended that you assume that I am frivolous with my money.

    I don’t buy coffee at a Starbucks or Peet’s. I brew it at home with my drip coffee maker. I rarely eat dinner out more than maybe once a month (or do you count meals eaten at one of the many fundraisers that are held in Davis?). Yes, I do watch TV. Satellite TV is a little luxury that I enjoy (you really want me to stop watching baseball games???). I don’t have a house cleaner. My utility bill was $30 last month, so I don’t see how I can go much lower there. I buy new clothes only when it is an absolute necessity and shop at Ross and Pennys. Personally, I am offended that I even have to tell you this much about my life. Yes, I could cancel my TV subscription, not attend any fundraisers or eat out ever, and quit buying coffee beans, so I can donate to your child’s education. You may think it would be worth it, but I don’t. I think that you could use the money you’ve saved to supplement your child’s education, without also using the money I save. If you were a little more grateful of the sacrifices people are having to make, maybe they would be a little more willing.

  10. SouthofDavis

    David posted from the Washington Post:

    > If you look at the payouts from lotteries to schools,
    > you might be impressed by the numbers. In California,
    > for example, all lottery donations to public schools
    > from kindergarten through college, total $24 billion.

    > Because instead of using the money as additional
    > funding, legislatures have used the lottery money
    > to pay for the education budget and spent the money
    > that would have been used had there been no lottery
    > cash on other things.

    The politicians have the game figured out, you get people to vote for “more money for the kids” or “more money for cops” or “more money for fireman” then you take the money you used to spend on the kids, the cops and the fireman and use it to hire friends and relatives for do nothing high paying jobs or use the money to fund things that make your donors richer (so they donate even more in the next election cycle)…

    If we want things to get better in this state we need people like David to realize that most (but not all) Democrats do this and people like Jeff to realize that most (but not all) Republicans do this and get everyone to work together for what is best for the state (not just the big donors that support both Republicans and Democrats and the big unions that support mostly Democrats…

  11. Mr.Toad

    Ryan, I am sorry you are feeling the pinch as are lots and lots of people. It is my hope you will find the resources to help supplement the education of the children of the community in which you live. Davis has a long history of doing what is needed to support its schools and I hope this community can find its way to keep providing that support during these trying economic times.

    My previous posts were written in response to your question about what to give up. The Bill Cosby quote was to remind the readers that although we take for granted that education of the children is important that we support it as a choice. The second, more glib comment, was a throw away line. If it offended you I apologize because i have found your posts to lack the dogmatism of some of the rhetoric that is posted here while also helping to move the discussion forward.

  12. Mr.Toad

    Jeff, we could also cut salaries of teachers that would also shrink the economy. Remember Jeff, every transaction results in some sort of redistribution. A Physics professor once told me the best return on investment is research and development. He went on and told me second to that is education. So, if you assume he was right, the value added to human capital by education returns great value to our community. Think what Davis would be without UC Davis.

    Think also of the jobs you mentioned, while all of them provide income, most are not high paying. The value added to society by jobs requiring greater levels of education and better skill sets return more to both the individual and society as a whole through taxation. Right now, i have been told, there is a mismatch between the jobs available and the skill sets required to fill those jobs. This is why Andy Grove, one of Intel’s founders, is funding STEM; Science, Technology, Engineering and Math initiatives. Education is the answer not the problem. The education glass has been full for a long time in Davis schools as it has been drained in communities across the state. If we fail to sustain the tradition of supporting our schools they will deteriorate. Please vote yes on E.

  13. trudave

    Ryan Kelly-I am sorry that I offended you, that was not my intention. You asked what families can cut to pay for the tax and I gave some suggestions. You are right that I don’t know your particular circumstances and I would never presume to. And please don’t assume that I am not grateful to live in a town with people that value education enough to pay for it, I am thankful for that every day.

  14. Frankly

    [i]Jeff, we could also cut salaries of teachers that would also shrink the economy.[/i]

    Mr. Toad: Yes, that is true. There are trade-offs going both ways.

    We have Obama and Congress pushing the end of the Bush tax cuts. We have Obamacare. We have Prop-30 and measure E. California is already at the top or next to the top of all states for high tax rates. The US has the highest corporate rates… then there are all those other non-transparent taxes (e.g., gas taxes, fees. etc.). This all makes our combined total tax rates high on the list of industrialized nations.

    Using the highest-taxed country – France – A business owner in California or New York has a higher top corporate tax rate (46.2% compared to 34.4%), and only a slightly lower top income tax rate (45.5% compared to 52.1%). The difference is the Employer Social Security (7.7% compared to 45%) and Employee Social Security (7.7% compared to 15%); and the sales tax rate (10% compared to 19.6%).

    Interesting though… these higher taxes are the ones hitting France’s middle class harder. The employer-paid social security depresses wages directly. Then you have high employee-paid social security tax and also a high sales/vat tax that hits domestic consumers.

    The new socialist French President just implemented a new special tax on the wealthy. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. The signs are already that the Laffer Curve effect is working and wealth is fleeing France.

  15. Frankly

    [i]Jeff, we could also cut salaries of teachers that would also shrink the economy.[/i]

    Mr. Toad: Yes, that is true. There are trade-offs going both ways.

    We have Obama and Congress pushing the end of the Bush tax cuts. We have Obamacare. We have Prop-30 and measure E. California is already at the top or next to the top of all states for high tax rates. The US has the highest corporate rates… then there are all those other non-transparent taxes (e.g., gas taxes, fees. etc.). This all makes our combined total tax rates high on the list of industrialized nations.

    Using the highest-taxed country – France – A business owner in California or New York has a higher top corporate tax rate (46.2% compared to 34.4%), and only a slightly lower top income tax rate (45.5% compared to 52.1%). The difference is the Employer Social Security (7.7% compared to 45%) and Employee Social Security (7.7% compared to 15%); and the sales tax rate (10% compared to 19.6%).

    Interesting though… these higher French taxes are hitting France’s middle class the hardest. The high employer-paid social security tax depresses wages directly. Then you have high employee-paid social security tax and also a high sales/vat tax that hits domestic consumers.

    The new socialist French President just implemented a new special tax on the wealthy. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. The signs are already that the Laffer Curve effect is working and wealth and business are fleeing France. I don’t think these fleeing French folk are coming to California… but I may be wrong.

  16. Mr.Toad

    Of course education is the key to expanding the economy and having an electorate that could figure out that if you expand the economy, broaden the tax base, and reduce exemptions you can lower the marginal tax rate.

    Vote yes on E.

  17. Michael Harrington

    Ryan: maybe people see the value in funding schools but not a 30% increase in water rates for an unnecessary water plant ?

    Poor Woodland ratepayers

  18. Don Shor

    Actually, Michael, I don’t get to vote on either of them, but urge everyone to support both. Both are crucial to the long-term health of our community.

  19. wdf1

    California schools have one of the lowest rates of funding on a per student basis, and have the most students per teacher.

    It doesn’t have to be that way. Vote Yes on E.

  20. Anonymous Pundit

    1. Let’s be honest. Academic performance of Davis students is predominantly attributable to local demographics and a higher propensity for Davis families to value education… The school system and local teachers are not materially different from neigboring districts. Consequently, added or diminished funding will not significantly alter educational outcomes.

    2. Funding a school monopoly does not improve student performance or lead to more efficient use of school funds, it perpetuates existing practices. Competition and scarcity of funding would encourage reform and efficiency, Measure E would not.

    3. Essentially, Measure E proponents are reverting back to the mentality prior to Serrano v Priest. Just like the gated communities of the 1970’s, Davis voters are being asked to fatten the school district budget because they can rather than because they should.

    Vote no on voodoo economics, vote no on Measure E.

  21. Ryan Kelly

    Leave it to Mike to bring up water in a conversation about Measure E. For most people, it is not a choice of one over the other. I think clean, safe water is as important, or even more important than school funding.

    It used to be that Davis provided money for music, arts, and other programs that enriched the education of children. Now, it seems we are paying for science, reading, and math – core academic programs. That’s a problem. We need to get a little more clever to stretch our dollars. Cutting the school year would be unacceptable to me.

  22. wdf1

    A.P.: [i]Essentially, Measure E proponents are reverting back to the mentality prior to Serrano v Priest.[/i]

    The state is unreliable in providing adequate funding for schools in order to fulfill the mandate of Serrano v. Priest. Why do you defend a broken system of state funding? At least we are able to help low SES kids in Davis.

    A.P.: [i]1. Let’s be honest. Academic performance of Davis students is predominantly attributable to local demographics and a higher propensity for Davis families to value education…[/i]

    That is partly true. Davis families value public education more highly, hence they don’t take it for granted. That approach to schools yields good results.

    A.P.: [i]Funding a school monopoly does not improve student performance or lead to more efficient use of school funds, it perpetuates existing practices.[/i]

    Because Davis families value public education more highly, Davis schools perform more efficiently, getting more bang for their buck.

    To see what further cuts in Davis schools would look like, check out neighboring school districts. Davis schools have been able to keep arts, athletics, vocational ed, secondary counselling, and elementary science intact.

    Not every kid necessarily thrives in traditional academic classes. Davis schools offer alternatives.

  23. Mr.Toad

    “Competition and scarcity of funding …”

    Scarcity of funding already exists and the result has been the flight of affluence to the competition, private schools, something that has been lessened in Davis by the support of the schools here.

  24. Frankly

    Wdf1: [i]California schools have one of the lowest rates of funding on a per student basis, and have the most students per teacher. [/i]

    We spend much more per student today than 30 years ago when all these “special” programs were standard offerings.

    Comparing CA spending per student to other states is a “fox guarding the hen house” trick… Similar to how the safety employee unions have all ratcheted up their pay.

  25. wdf1

    JB: [i]We spend much more per student today than 30 years ago when all these “special” programs were standard offerings.

    Comparing CA spending per student to other states is a “fox guarding the hen house” trick… Similar to how the safety employee unions have all ratcheted up their pay.[/i]

    Yes, the selective rosy glow of nostalgia:

    1. Funding was more stable prior to Prop. 13. Local property tax is generally more stable than state sales and income taxes.

    2. Not all students were served as well by California schools, and it didn’t matter as much because our larger manufacturing sector could accommodate a lesser-educated workforce. Also, schools were not obligated to serve as many “special ed.” situations. Today we need full-spectrum options for every student.

    3. At Davis High, the music program was not nearly as big 30 years, even proportional to the enrollment of the times.

    4. Thirty years ago, desktop computers were only barely introduced in high schools, and instruction was in BASIC programming. Today computer instruction is a standard component of school curricula, and Da Vinci Academy has a computer tech heavy environment, so no, not all these “special” programs were standard offerings.

    5. I know you think that public school teachers are tainted by their association w/ collective bargaining groups (teachers’ unions), but I’m definitely not finding teachers retiring to beach front mansions in Malibu, or the equivalent. California teachers don’t have as favorable working conditions, especially with respect to class sizes and availability of instructional aides/assistance.

  26. Steve Hayes

    wdf1 10/09/12 – 11:23 AM “… I’m definitely not finding teachers retiring to beach front mansions in Malibu, or the equivalent.”…

    That is in part because CALSTRS, unlike CALPERS, is NOT coordinated with Social Security. As a result, retired teachers do not receive SS payments (based on contributions to SS during their career) when they retire or turn 62 unless their spouse is eligible for SS.

  27. wdf1

    A.P.: [i]Funding a school monopoly does not improve student performance or lead to more efficient use of school funds, it perpetuates existing practices.[/i]

    A quick thought experiment will show that this statement has problems. If money does not matter to the quality of student performance in Davis, then let’s reduce DJUSD funding to employ just one teacher to babysit all 8,500 DJUSD students at the DHS football field. We would save even more money given your premise.

  28. Frankly

    wdf1: [i]A quick thought experiment will show that this statement has problems. If money does not matter to the quality of student performance in Davis, then let’s reduce DJUSD funding to employ just one teacher to babysit all 8,500 DJUSD students at the DHS football field. We would save even more money given your premise.[/i]

    Another thought experiment… let’s increase education funding so that we can allocate one teacher per student and a huge inventory of special programs. Then we would have fantastic education outcomes!

    wdf1: [i]”I’m definitely not finding teachers retiring to beach front mansions in Malibu, or the equivalent.”… [/i]

    You are missing the point. The point isn’t that we are over-paying teachers (although I think we do gloss over the value of a 9.5-month work year)… the point is that we employee too many people in the business of education, we retain too many moderate and low performing teachers, and we are not modernizing the education system to take advantage of technology to improve instruction and lower employee costs in the upper grades for many subjects, so that we can redeploy this headcount to the young students and struggling students that need more human help.

    You seem to think that the system as is works well enough. I think it is way behind the times in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. I would pay more per student to fund a completely reformed and improved system. However, I do not support increasing funding for the status quo. It may result in marginal improvements, but at the expense of delaying the reforms we need now, so that we can sustain our educations needs in this decade and beyond.

    If we approached healthcare like we do education, doctors would still be bleeding patients to cure then of illness.

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