Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “prop 30”

Post-Election Thoughts – Roger Ingalls

What could have been a very bummer election turned out to be pretty awesome. There were a few negatives but the dramatic leftward movement on some key issues caught me totally by surprise.

Before we hit the good stuff let’s get the minor bad things out of the way:

1)      California Prop 30 passed which increases the state sales tax and places a higher tax burden on the upper wage earners. This money is supposed to funnel to schools. I’m all for educating the kids but giving more money to the hooligans and cronies that populate the education system is sinful. These extortionists need pink slips, not greenbacks. Fix the dysfunctional system before pouring more money into it.

2)      Abolishment of the death penalty failed (Prop 34). A few years ago I wouldn’t have cared about the death penalty but hearing the news about the number of innocent people executed by the state of Texas opened my eyes. Governor Perry faced with overwhelming evidence of innocence; still allow executions to go ahead because he didn’t want to appear soft on crime. His self-image was more important than the life of another human. I can see this happening elsewhere, like California, given the current state of politics. If there is a possibility that an innocent person could pay the ultimate price than the death penalty must be abolished.

Onto the good stuff:

1)      President Obama was re-elected. I’m far from happy with the President’s performance but the alternative is unthinkable. In addition, it proves that his initial election was not a fluke and we are making racial progress.

2)      After years of defeats in more than 30 states, pro-gay marriage initiatives finally passed in 2012. Same-sex marriage passed in Maryland, Maine and possibly Washington pending a more detailed vote count. Also, Minnesota voted down a ban on gay marriage. Progress!

3)      California updated its draconian three strikes law. Now, the three strikes law can only impose a life sentence when the new felony conviction is serious or violent. Prop 36 also allows re-sentencing for previously closed cases along with a few other provisions. It’s socially fair and will save the state a lot of money.

4)      Colorado and Washington legalized the recreational use of cannabis. Finally, brave citizens of these two states said “enough” to the conservative agenda that consistently criminalizes human behavior. A plant that’s been used by humanity for 10,000 years was made illegal for dubious reasons approximately forty years ago. How the Federal government attacks CO and WA will be interesting. Big money from the pharmaceutical and prison industries pay politicians to protect their interest so the Fed may crack down hard on the states. The Obama administration has hit states hard on medical marijuana even though he campaigned otherwise in 2008, basically he lied to the younger generation to get their vote. Perhaps now that re-election worries are no longer warranted, he will honor his original commitment.

5)      Many younger voters took a liberal stance again in 2012, as they did in 2008. Also, the thirty-somethingers voted for the Democratic candidate for a third straight presidential election. Once a citizen votes two or three consecutive time for the same party, they usually vote that way for the rest of their life. This gives hope to the possibility that a future progressive movement can undo all the damage caused by Republicans over the past thirty years.

6)      Women, in huge numbers, voted to re-elect President Obama. This should send a strong message to the Republican Party that their attempts to keep women barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen will not work. And certainly the party’s politicians that make statements like “legitimate or justifiable rape” need to be removed from office.

2012, positively progressive!

California Education: The Money Pit – Roger Ingalls

Once again Californians are being asked to fork over more money for education. Governor Brown, teachers and many special interests are promoting Prop 30 in an attempt to convince us to pay higher taxes so more funds get funneled to education. I believe, like many others, this is asking us to throw money into the toilet.

The education system is archaic and dysfunctional and throwing more money its way is not going to fix the problem. The whole system must be overhauled. The biggest hurdles preventing education reform are the stakeholders within the system. They will not participate in activities that involve change because they’re not familiar with competition and accountability. It’s easier to say, “think of the children, think of their future” and then ask for more money. If the extra funding actually improved a child’s education, I’d be all for it but it doesn’t. Instead, the money is wasted on a top-heavy system designed over 100 years ago.

If I were king of education, the system would reflect the realities of today. Here’s a partial list of changes:

1)      Every school does not need a principal and vice principal. If one CEO can run a multi-national company employing 10,000 people, certainly one principal with two vice principals can handle at least 10 local schools. This change alone would save $200,000,000 per year. There are many other non-teaching positions that can be consolidated and redeployed to improve efficiency. We would save in the neighborhood of half a billion dollars a year which could then be redirected into actual classrooms.

2)      Quit buying printed text books or at least 90% of them. This is a massive waste of money and the only reason this practice continues is due to lobbyist and special interest group that are hired by book printers to protect their for-profit companies. The yearly US market for textbook is approximately $8 billion. With California representing roughly 10% of the US population, the state could realize a yearly savings of more $500,000,000 by moving to an e-book strategy. What’s more important to the State’s education system, profits for big business or educating students?

3)      Here comes the controversial change. Toss out the militaristic kindergarten to 12th grade hierarchy (K-12). The K-12 format does not fit today’s student demographic. Teachers are now expected to handle special needs (physical and mental disabilities), language and cultural barriers as well as kids with disciplinary issues. With such student diversity, few on them are properly served. We need a system that fits the environment. Students should be grouped in class by knowledge level per subject, language and other needs and not by age. Teachers would be assigned to a class based on subject knowledge at a particular level, language fluency and other skills. Students would graduate from a subject level at their own learning pace. This would ensure that fast learners are not stifled and others aren’t advanced based on age or defined time period. Teachers would become specialists at a defined knowledge level and students would advance based on ability. This system would be more efficient for both teacher and student.

I’m voting no on Prop 30. California doesn’t need more money for schools; it needs to overhaul the education system.

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