Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Schwarzenegger’s propositions terminated

I feel like celebrating that all of Governor Schwarzenegger’s propositions—74, 75, 76, and 77—were defeated in yesterday’s special elections. The people of California got smart and told the Governor that they thought his reforms were really bad ideas, which they were. Led by nurses, teachers, firefighters, and policepeople, California’s working people have had a victory!

His Proposition 76—capping the California state budget—would have taken millions away from the schools, which have been already starved for funds for over two decades. His Proposition 74—the proposal to extend tenure for teachers—would have had almost no impact improving California’s teachers and would have made it harder to attract good new teachers. Good that they were voted down!

So far Schwarzenegger has been a terrible governor for California. When the state has serious problems to be solved—millions of its citizens lack health care; the school system is getting worse; the transportation system and the flood control system around Sacramento needs improvements—Schwarzenegger succeeded in wasting over $50 million of the taxpers money on this special election November 8, 2005. The money could have been much better spent elsewhere.

In today’s LA Times Steve Lopez in the “California section” argues in a piece titled “Governor Took Low Road on Education” that Schwarzenegger has ignored his opportunity to improve California’s schools. Lopez says that instead Schwarzenegger “has cavalierly broken a promise on public school funding [to restore the $2 billion he took], embittered teachers, and offered next to nothing in the way of creative or sweeping solutions to the state’s most critical challenge.”

Indeed Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill to continue professional development for teachers. I teach at Santa Monica College, and we’ve been told there is zero money for professional development even though we’re required to put in hours for professional development. I’m going to two conferences, but it’s with my own money.

I would hope that Governor Schwarzenegger would make some serious changes in his policies, but I don’t see it. California’s infrastructure—schools, roads, and libraries—were built decades ago and need to be improved but that takes money. The Republican ideology of starving the public sector which Schwarzenegger believes in doesn’t allow for spending money in improvement of infrastructure. Too bad.

Then it’s up to us citizens to elect a governor who will build up the infrastructure—the school, health system, libraries, and transportation system. We’ve just had one victory in California. We need to start planning for our next victory.

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