Monday, December 21, 2009

Money for California's schools

When teachers argue that school funding should not be cut, we are told by the  Republicans in the legislature that there is not choice, there just is no money.
Well, that is not really true.  Here is where reasonable people would get the revenue.

1.     Repeal the September 2008 and February 2009 tax cuts.  As a part of the Sept. 2008 and Feb. 2009 budget deals, the legislature created huge new corporate tax breaks.  That right.  To respond to a budget crisis, they gave new tax reductions to corporations.  These take effect in 2011 and will make the budget crisis worse.  What is to be done ? Repeal of tax credit sharing to  raise 2009-10 revenues by $80 million, over time, the permanent tax cuts will cost the state $2.0 billion to $2.5 billion.

2.      Reinstate 10 percent and 11 percent tax rates to 1991 levels, adjusted for inflation. The February tax increases disproportionately affect low- and middle-income taxpayers. Reinstatement of the top brackets would restore balance to the state’s tax system and raise $4 billion to $6 billion in additional revenues.

3.     Impose on oil severance tax. California is the only oil producing jurisdiction in the world without a severance tax. A tax of 9.9 percent, such as that proposed by the Governor, would raise upwards of $1 billion dollars.

We, the people, own this oil.  It is under California soil.  Oil companies only take it out.  They should pay to take our oil out of the ground and to sell it to us.  Even arch conservative Texas, Louisiana, and Alaska have oil severance taxes.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Economic Crisis and School budgets

    The nation  including California is suffering a severe recession.  Twenty Six million  are unemployed and under employed. This crisis was created by finance capital and banking, mostly on Wall Street ,ie. Chase Banks, Bank of America, AIG, and others.   Finance capital produced a $ trillion bailout of the financial industry, the doubling of America’s unemployment rate and the loss of 2 million manufacturing jobs in 2008.  Fifteen million people are out of work.  You and I, and college students did not create this crisis.  Finance capital stole the future of many young people.   It is important in developing  responses  to distinguish between the financial bail out (TARP) and the stimulus plan (ARRA, 2009).  Fox News and the Republican Right like to merge these two as one.
            If we don’t find a way to stop Wall Street from controlling  our government, the standard of living of working people will continue to decline and we will continue to have economic crises.  As a minimum, we need to extend unemployment benefits for long term unemployed.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Race to the Top: consultant employment project ?

On Wed. Dec.2,2009, the California Assembly held  a hearing on Race to the Top, chaired by Julia Brownley, Chair of the Assembly Education Committee.
In her testimony,  Jennifer Kuhn of the Legislative Analyst Office testified that

Because California has a severe budget crisis in k-12 education, we recommend that th RTTP funds  be used to
develop plans and strategies for RTTT.  We should not commit funds for  direct service efforts that the state can not sustain.

(Not quite a quote.  I encourage readers to look for the video on line on the California Channel. It was as I could catch it.)

In other words, the LAO  encourages   funding advisors and consultants to talk about what should be done. She argued that money  should not be allocated to program that serve children. Rather, it will be used to plan and build strategies.

This seems like a make work projects for consultants, advisors and charlatans.   One of the consistent problems of schools in the U.S. and California is that too much money is taken from the school budgets to fund other things, such as consultants , program designers and hucksters.  
 The new regulations in RTT Top require that the local unions are required to sign off on their participation.  I argue that unions should not sign off unless the majority of the money go into the classroom not to consultants and planners.

Based upon the requirements of RTTT, it  is not about teaching, it is about building infrastructure and implementing policies that in theory will help teaching and learning.  We have been here before. This is “drive by school reform.”
See the excellent responses to Race to The Top by Monty Neill of Fair Test.
He says it well here.
FairTest website at

Of particular value in the hearing  was the testimony of Roberta Feurger representing PICO in favor of how to increase parent participation.
Duane Campbell, Sacramento