Oakland, California (EastBayDaily) — On behalf of the over six million children educated in public schools in California, Educate Our State, a grassroots, parent-led, volunteer organization of more than 50,000 Californians, is organizing parents and supporters in a show of solidarity and frustration with the current funding of our education system. Communities are telling state leaders that the children of California need their leaders to stand up to special interests and give kids a voice. Events are being held to show local support for this statewide issue and demonstrate parents’ concerns about the increasing and unreported diversion of schools’ share of property taxes to pay state debts that have nothing to do with education. On May 16th outreach events will be held all over California. To find one near you click http://www.educateourstate.org/events.
"We are asking our legislators and our Governor to work together to allow California voters to decide if using the poorest school districts in California as the interest-free lender of first resort to the state is the way we want to finance our schools and our state," said Cushon Bell of Altadena, a former teacher and a board member of Educate Our State.
"California built 23 prisons since 1980. In the same period, the UC system has opened one new campus. Budgets are a statement of values, and we do not like the direction our state is going in public education. This diversion of schools’ allocated property taxes adds insult to injury and our poorest children pay a very high price, said Ruth Burton of Bakersfield, a former teacher and a board member with Educate Our State.
"This initiative will simply give our schools and our children the protection for their property taxes that cities, counties, mosquito abatement and others asked voters to provide, and that they received, ten years ago. It has worked for them and will work for schools and the education of our young people through community colleges," stated Delaine Eastin, State Superintendent of Public Schools, ret.
Third party analysis by the Youth and Education Law Project at the Stanford Law Project analyzed this diversion of schools' share of property taxes and concluded, in a report released this month: the diversion of school-dedicated property taxes has tangibly affected the resources available to California school children. More important, because poor schools are more reliant on state funds and because the method for diverting tax funds falls more heavily on those districts and schools most reliant on state funds, poor children and their schools have been hurt the most." You can read the report here: http://media.wix.com/ugd/21fce7_6fa04e4cea7d4dba90ffdc50509a3e05.pdf
"Communities are joining together and standing up for their children and their schools. California schools have loaned billions to the state, interest free, since 2007 and we are at the bottom in the nation in per student funding” said Katherine Welch, a board member with Educate Our State. "The unnecessary and unreported diversion of our property taxes that should be going to our schools is a violation of the public trust and fiscally irresponsible. We want our state leaders to put this issue on the ballot so voters can weigh in on this diversion that hurts our schools and our children, who cannot make up their education later."
"Californians know there is a problem with school funding and are coming together to demand change,” said Suzy Pak of Lafayette, board member of Educate Our State Leadership Center. California lags behind all but a few states with respect to funding (50th, Ed Week), standardized test scores (math 43rd and reading 46th; NAEP 4th Grade 2011), and last by a large margin in staff to student, librarian and counselor ratios (51st, NEA Research Report, 2011).
Educate Our State stresses that the Let Us Vote campaign shows the public’s desire to make education the priority it needs to be in order for this state to thrive. Students cannot vote, and they need the adults in this state to build the political will for California to once again lead the nation in public education. For more information about "Let Us Vote!” and rallies scheduled in specific areas, please visit http://www.educateourstate.org, Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/educateourstate and follow us on Twitter at #letusvote and #educateourstate.
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