Saturday, February 28, 2004

In Santa Monica...

The strikers at the local Vons got some great publicity and a morale boost with a Kerry visit Thursday. While I'm glad the strike has for the most part ended, I'm not happy with the results of the negotiations. Bleah! At least it'll be over soon. How many more beatings can the unions take before there are virtually no benefits left?

In regards to voting next Tuesday, March 2nd, as a PTA mom (I never thought I'd be one but here I am), the California state has four bond measures, of which I am supporting two: 55 and 56. Proposition 55 will help pay for badly needed K-12 infrastructure problems. I don't think it'll have a chance given that our movie star governor is really pushing his two bonds, 57 and 58, which means attention to 55 has been nil. Hey, it was on the ballot first! Fortunately, 55 will go on the ballot again in November.

As for my opinion about 57 and 58? Steve Lopez says it best.

The inlaws actually changed party affiliation to vote for Mr. Governor over there. In my circle of a family and friends, he is still damn popular, unfortunate because hearing about our movie star governor really makes me feel sick to my stomach. "If he says we must vote for it, we really should because he knows better".

As for schools here, our superintendent has been making huge waves with his "gift" proposal. Briefly, he wanted to require that 15% of all donations be placed into a general fund, the money to be doled out to schools according to need. The larger situation is that we don't have enough money from the state and local funds to properly fund our schools. In response, the schools in the wealthier areas run huge fundraising drives to provide necessities as well as extras. Needless to say, we have a huge class divide in Santa Monica: for example, one school in a 'nonwealthy area' only generate $30,000 per year in donations while at the other end Malibu High brings in one million a year. School board meetings have turned into rowdy affairs. In the end, the school board plans to support a modified plan: 15% of the first $100,000 to be donated to the general fund, with decreasing percentages of amounts beyond the first $100,000.

Then there's the CEPS deal. A group of activist parents started the Committee for Excellence in Public Schools with the goal to provide a steady revenue stream for our school district. The money will come from the City of Santa Monica, who has been very generous and supportive of schools in the past. To do this will require a charter amendment, meaning the proposal needs to get on the ballot November. The Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce has come out in support of this amendment. However, quite a bit of opposition is coming from the city unions, understandably, but also from the local media, the Santa Monica Daily Press. When I was phonebanking the other day for CEPS, a number of parents I contacted were already turned off by the media. The organizers need to address these criticisms better.