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Saving Quality Education
Original post made
by Saving the quality of education, Beratlis Place,
on Jun 3, 2009
Would it be possible, with the 61% that voted yes on G to start a major fund raising effort to raise the money needed to keep the status quo until the budget crisis is over?
I am not interested in paying more taxes to fund anything additional but I would have paid the tiny tax to maintain what we have.
Since 39% of Pleasantonians are not willing to do that can the rest of us band together and make a real effort?
The 39% will benefit then say that they never needed the additional teachers, small class sizes or libraries but we will know better won't we!
Posted by Swami
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jun 4, 2009 at 1:59 am
Good question, though the sarcasm is a bit unnecessary. Short answer is, I've learned a couple of things over the past few months.
Measure G failed. But it succeeded in getting many people to think deeply about what our kids' education means to us.
The first part of my learning is this: I must invest much more than previously planned, in the K-12 education of ALL kids in Pleasanton public schools, including those that need a lot of support in these early years. Some school programs will have to be cut given the projected deficits and how the system is set up. Many kids will be affected, in direct or indirect ways. That is not acceptable to me, so I have to be willing to pay a price to help improve the situation.
The second and biggest part of the learning is that I should not burden those who do not see value in this, or cannot afford an extra $233/yr.
If you voted "No" on Measure G, you've been heard, and have been spared the parcel tax. That leaves those who voted "Yes", or were willing to pay less than the $233/yr, the task of finding a way to have an impact.
In a sense, Measure G was a return to more "local" government, with a city level measure substituting for state/federal level support (and eventually control).
What was proposed by "Saving the quality of education" is rather powerful - a way to make this even more "local", i.e. only those that saw enough value would pay.
It also leaves those who do not want to pay, in peace, with their wallets intact!
This is how it used to be in the old days in this country. We visited De Smet, SD this last summer - referenced in the "Little Town on the Prairie" in the Laura Ingalls Wilder series of books;
A bit more than a century ago, townsfolks needed to fund any and all schooling of their children. Not everyone in the town paid equally, only those who felt the need and could afford it. In some towns, someone or a group saw enough value in it to make schooling happen, in others there wasn't as much motivation.
Getting wound up about teacher unions and PUSD misses the point of this thread entirely. Many teachers may not be able to afford a pay-cut on the order of the deficit margin of 10% or more; even if they were willing, the union may not let them contemplate it. Unions are in general strange organizations, in that they protect the senior at the cost of the junior in tough times. Their leaders do not have the power to change drastically from past positions without being unseated. Witness the battles within unions in Detroit this past decade before the big meltdown.
However, there is a much larger problem across the economy than the issue of union stasis - Much of our economy and systems have been structured for more prosperous times and will take a while to adjust.
We have great teachers in Pleasanton - in my interactions with my daughter's teacher at Fairlands, I have been impressed with her dedication, wisdom, and positive influence on the kids in her class. I have heard substantially similar feedback from parents with kids in Walnut Grove, and would expect to hear the same level of satisfaction with the quality of teaching in other schools. We are a fortunate community. Our teachers make a vital contribution. It is especially hard to fathom the value of a teacher assisting a single student struggling to read at grade level, or that of an additional science or music teacher spending more time with a gifted student. But it is in helping the first kid out, or challenging the second, that we truly maintain excellence of our kids' education and indirectly and positively contribute to the health and vibrancy of the community. I was touched by the story recited by a dad at one of the school board information sessions - of how his son was assisted greatly with reading, and has now graduated from high school with a decent grade - the dad was grateful to the school district. We all did well as a community in that instance.
If the 9000+ voters who said "Yes" to the parcel tax were to contribute $233 or more to the education system, that would go some way towards helping kids. If a private network formed with a subset of the teachers who get laid off, it is possible the teachers would not be able to substitute for their loss of income from the school district. The arrangement could still be of value to them and to the community, and be worth the investment for some section of residents.
Don't know if this makes sense to you. If you still wonder why, think about why we invest in rescue missions for mountain climbers. Think about why many countries spent hundreds of thousands in multiple currencies to search for the debris of the Air France jet that was lost over the Atlantic recently. It is because at some level we all care about the mountain climber, or folks that were on that flight, and their friends and family. There may be no immediate benefits, but one day you or someone you care about may survive a flight through an electrically active weather pattern because we learned from this experience. Is that worth the expense? How would you know?
Is it worth investing in the kid that could benefit a lot from additional attention? How would we know? But we have to do our share and then hope for the best.
If that still doesn't make sense, hopefully you realize that those who do not want to pay extra (to support Pleasanton public education), have no skin in this game. This is not about Measure G anymore.