Do you care about education? On November 8, voters have the chance to weigh in on several important education issues – here’s what to look for on your ballot!
There are a whopping 18 statewide propositions on the state ballot this fall and two are critical for education. Below is a brief description for each. Read through these and think about what would work best for your family and your schools, then make sure to vote on November 8!
Proposition 51: Bonds for School Facilities
Should the state provide $9 billion in bonds to build and modernize schools? The measure includes $2 billion for community colleges and $7 billion for K-12 public schools. Proponents say that schools need the money now. Opponents say it will require the state to assume too much debt, and that the move would give too much to wealthy districts.
In 2012, California voters approved Proposition 30 to temporarily increase taxes. This proposition would extend Prop 30’s income tax increase on the wealthy for an additional 12 years. The majority of these funds would go to education.
Proposition 58: Local Control on English-Only Education
Eight years ago, California voters passed a measure making it very difficult for schools to educate English learners in their native language. Should that measure be scaled back? Proponents say decisions about bilingual education should rest with parents and school districts. Opponents say English immersion is working.
There are many individuals on this year’s ballot who want to be elected to serve at the local, state, and federal levels of government. Below is a description of the offices they are running for, and how they affect education.
The Local Level
Local government has a huge impact on education. Elected officials at the local level make decisions that affect:
- Which schools students are able to attend
- When to open, expand, close, or start schools
- How schools are integrated with health and other social services
The school board sets the vision and goals of the district, adopts policies in line with those goals. It is responsible for:
- Hiring and and evaluating the superintendent
- Approving the annual budget
- Approving or denying independent charter schools
- Engaging the community.
City Council and Mayor
The city council and mayor govern the city, working to make sure it’s a safe and livable community. While they don’t govern the schools directly in California, the city council and mayor do oversee programs and policies that affect children and schools, including:
- Health services
- Libraries and community centers
- Recreational services
- Other social services
The State Level
The California state government is responsible for upholding the state constitution, including its call for
“maximizing the educational opportunities and protecting the health and safety of all public school pupils [and] enhancing the ability of parents to participate in the educational process …” (Article 1, Section 7).
Elected officials at the state level make decisions that affect:
- How the state distributes funds to school districts and how districts can use them
- What students must learn at each grade level
- How to manage teacher employment and credentialing
- How schools and districts are held accountable for making sure all students are served well
California State Legislature (State Assembly and State Senate)
Along with the governor, the Legislature sets state policy on these important issues.
The Federal Level
Education is primarily a state, county, and city responsibility, but the federal government does cover about 8% of education spending and plays an important role. Elected officials at the federal level make decisions that affect:
- How and when the federal government intervenes to promote equal educational opportunity for underserved students.
- What educational goals states have to meet and how they are monitored.
- Where, how, and how much the federal government invests in education research.
Federal Legislature (House of Representatives and Senate)
Along with the president, the House of Representatives and Senate set state policy on these important issues.
The president has less influence over education policy than you might think. That said, they can veto or approve federal education legislation, and they appoint the federal Secretary of Education.
Don’t forget to vote on November 8, 2016!
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