I am writing to explain why the Glendale College Guild, California Federation of Teachers Local 2276, has joined a broad coalition of educators, public health workers, police, firefighters, religious leaders and community organizers to defeat a dangerous and mean-spirited agenda placed on the Nov. 8 ballot by the governor and the corporate interests that he is representing.
This coalition, known as the Alliance for a Better California, is battling a array of highly deceptive propositions bankrolled by powerful special interests and Governor Schwarzenegger’s wealthy political allies in an unusual and expensive special election, forced upon the state against the will of the majority of voters.
However, now that this special election is unavoidable, we wish to dispel the false premises underlying several dangerous propositions.
Proposition 74 seeks to extend the probationary period for public school teachers from the current two years to five years and to make it easier to dismiss tenured teachers after two unsatisfactory evaluations without giving them the right to defend themselves.
It’s an unfair attempt to make teachers the scapegoats for the failures of an under-funded educational system and to make a group that has been a strong advocate for improving the educational system less secure in its ability to oppose bad administrative policies.
Proposition 75 is equally misleading and dangerous. It purports to grant protections to the paychecks of the members of public employee unions, including the Glendale College Guild, so that their unions cannot spend their dues in political campaigns without their permission.
This proposal ignores the fact that many of these unions already have built-in protections against such practices. Our union allows faculty who enjoy the benefits of the union contract, but who oppose some of the positions of the union, to pay an agency fee rather than union dues to protect them against being forced to pay for activities they do not support.
In addition, our union has created a separate organization, Professors for Quality Education, to which union members who chose to do so voluntarily contribute to engage in political action so that union dues can be reserved for less controversial activities.
Prop 75 is in reality nothing more than a cynical attempt by the governor and his corporate allies to take away the ability of teachers, police, firefighters and other public employees to have any effective voice in protecting their own interests.
Remember that only a few months ago the governor proposed taking away the retirement pensions for all these public employees, but had to retreat abruptly due to strongly opposed public opinion. He wants to come after us again next year after he silences our political voices.
Proposition 76 represents the gravest threat to public education, including the community college system, as well as to the healthcare and public safety systems.
This so-called “living within our means” proposal will immediately cut kindergarten through community college funding by $4 billion _” approximately $600 per student at a time when California already has fallen to 48th out of 50 states in educational spending per student.
Under the guise of returning control of government spending to the people, it overturns the very popular Proposition 98 funding protections for public education enacted by a large majority of voters not so long ago.
It creates a very “hair-trigger” arrangement under which minor shortfalls in state revenues would allow the governor to declare a “fiscal state of emergency” and take all power over the budget away from our elected representatives in the legislature and suspend previously enacted laws, as well as union contracts for teachers, police, firefighters and other public employees. It grants virtual dictatorial control of public spending to the governor and destroys the checks and balances in state government.
Prop 78 is a generally weaker reform proposal on the same subject, which was bankrolled by large pharmaceutical companies as a way of undermining support for Proposition 79.
Prop 79 is a healthcare reform measure which improves the availability of low cost prescription drugs supported by the majority of the state legislature and by the Alliance for a Better California.
There are several other significant proposals on the ballot that should be examined carefully, but the space available does not allow such an in-depth analysis of these or even the above-mentioned propositions. For more information, go to www.betterca.com
and www.voterguide.ss.ca.gov (the official state sponsored voter guide information).
The College Guild urges all eligible members of the campus community to register to vote, to educate themselves further about all the issues, (especially Propositions 74, 75 and 76, which affect public education so critically and directly), and to encourage their friends and neighbors to do their same.
The Guild will be working with the Associated Students and the League of Women Voters to sponsor voter registration tables at the El Vaquero Plaza and registration efforts in classrooms during the weeks of Oct. 3 and 17. The deadline to register to vote is Oct. 24.
Educate yourselves and vote to protect quality education, healthcare and public safety in California.