Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Schwarzenegger betrays our children, part II

(Update: changed the title of this post.)
His campaign promise regarding public education:
"I strongly support Proposition 98 and I will protect California's commitment to education funding. And by empowering local communities to make decisions, we can spend that money better."

From the Archive of Campaign Promises.

Here's another quote:
"Education is the key to every future success for our state," Schwarzenegger announced at the time. "Prop. 98 funding will be restored as required by law and our agreement. Today, I am making that promise to our teachers and students."
One more, from a transcript of a campaign commercial, per Pacific John:
Schwarzenegger: My candidacy is all about big change in Sacramento, and the people have a right to know what that means for them.

Question: How are you going to end the financial mess?

Schwarzenegger: Well, California is spending $29 million per day more than it takes in. Now, here is my plan: day one, audit everything. Open the books. And then, we end the crazy deficit spending.

Question: Will you have to cut education?

Schwarzenegger: No. We can fix this mess without hurting the schools. For me, children come first. Always have, always will.
His revision in January, 2005:
"My colleagues, this is going to be a big political fight,'' he said. "This is a battle of the special interest versus the children's interests. Which will you choose?"
And surprise, surprise. From Jack O'Connell, State Superintendent, the reality:
"Prop. 98 is being gutted," said Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell, who was briefed on the budget proposal on Wednesday. "We simply cannot afford to take more money out of classrooms and this budget would raid money from classrooms."

Some of the education hits so far:

· He wants to renege on a huge amount of money owed the state educational system as part of a deal he made with education public interest groups.

You see, in 1998 Proposition 98 was voted into existence by us, the voters, to help fund public education. As part of a deal last year, an agreement was reached such that this money, $2 billion dollars worth, will come to the school system later in order to help pay off the budget deficit. He now wants to ignore this deal he made with us.

The reality has been that the public education system has sustained over $9.8 billion dollars in cuts over the last four years.

The worst of it is that he want to gut Proposition 98 with a constitutional amendment. So what was with those campaign promises? Just a bunch of hot air?

· He wants to drastically cut our teachers’ pensions: this is a whopping 49.4% cut of what the state currently pays into the system, which means $500 million dollars worth of costs will be shifted to local school districts.

And guess who he's gonna call for help? Ahem. His pal, Grover Norquist. He’s got some handy group of friends to rely upon, doesn’t he. And note that California school teachers are not eligible for Social Security.

· He wants merit pay for teachers. See Freedberg who says it best in his piece “Blaming the Teacher”.

Breaking promises isn’t the worst of it.

He’s declared war on public education by these actions despite all his campaign promises. My hope is that this will force a grassroots movement to coalesce in order to oppose his agenda. Maybe this will also be the start of a badly needed grassroots infrastructure to spearhead drastic changes in NCLB.

The other part of the silver lining is just maybe a few more star-crossed voters out here will figure out they’ve been shafted for supporting a fantasy action figure. I know too many people here in Southern California who believe that supporting an over-the-hill actor who once played the Terminator makes them in turn feel powerful and confidant. I’m sure it’s some sort of identification thing, one that’s going to bite us all in the behind.

God help us all when he gets to run for the Presidency.