Our Children Our Future Education Initiative Launches Signature Drive
California State PTA-Backed Measure Will Also Reduce General Fund Deficit
SAN FRANCISCO,CA - The Our Children Our Future 2012 campaign and the California State PTA today launched a signature-gathering drive to secure a spot for the education initiative on the November 2012 ballot.
The Our Children, Our Future: Local Schools and Early Education Investment and Bond Debt Reduction Act will provide critically needed funding for public schools and early childhood education. Our Children, Our Future will deliver new revenue directly to schools so local communities can reverse years of education budget cuts and use the funds to improve students' academic achievement. Investing in schools and early childhood education is needed to prepare students to compete in the global economy and protects the future of California's economy. Our Children, Our Future is the only initiative that invests in every child and directly in every local school site to improve educational outcomes.
"This measure will transform our schools and help give California children the education they deserve. It provides vital new resources for our severely underfunded public schools," said Carol Kocivar, president of the California State PTA. "Every student and every public school will benefit - and tough accountability provisions will ensure the money is used to improve student achievement."
California schools this year face a shocking 23 percent reduction in funding compared to 2008. Per-pupil funding in California is 47th in the nation, lagging behind the national average by $2,580 - more than at any time in the past 40 years. Our state ranks dead last in class sizes - 50th out of 50 states - with the largest class sizes in the nation.
"Our schools are in a crisis, and we can't let this continue," said Molly Munger, co-director of the Advancement Project in Los Angeles. "Investing in our schools and early childhood education is the best thing we can do for our economy and our state. This is the ballot measure that will make possible the restoration and transformation of California schools into the safe, stimulating educational environments we need to prepare students to compete in the global economy and secure the future of our economy and our state. Moreover, it recognizes the state's economic crisis and provides near term budget relief. Our state will recover from a broken economy, but we can't recover if we fail an entire generation of children by depriving them of educational opportunities."
Every student and every public school in California will benefit from Our Children, Our Future. The initiative requires that funds must be used to improve student performance and gives local school boards the authority to decide, with community input, how new education funds will be spent at each school site, rather than mandating a "one- size-fits-all" policy from Sacramento. Under the Our Children, Our Future initiative, no more than one percent of the K-12 funds may be spent on school-district administration, with the rest going directly to school sites on a per-pupil basis to improve educational opportunity and achievement for students. Publicly available independent audits and other tough accountability provisions will ensure that funds are spent appropriately to benefit students.
The California State PTA-backed initiative received title and summary from the California Attorney General's office last week, an approval necessary to begin gathering signatures.
"We're now going full-steam ahead with this initiative," said Addisu Demissie, campaign manager for Our Children, Our Future. "We're funded, we're organized, we have a campaign structure, and we're committed to this superior plan for moving our state forward."
A recent USC Dornsife College/Los Angeles Times statewide poll found that 64 percent of registered voters would pay more taxes to improve school funding, as long as they are confident the money would be spent in their own communities.
Because all Californians share in the benefits of a better-educated workforce, the measure fairly shares the costs among Californians and asks those in the wealthiest one percent to pay the most because they are most able to afford it. The initiative raises income tax rates on a sliding scale from four-tenths of one percent to 2.2 percent on multi-millionaires. To keep the increases affordable, it applies only to incomes after all deductions are taken, and before tax credits are given. It exempts the first $14,632 of income after deductions on joint returns.
The Our Children, Our Future: Local Schools and Early Education Investment and Bond Debt Reduction Act will raise $10 billion annually over the next 12 years for direct investment in public school classrooms and early education programs, and earmarks 30 percent of the new revenue for the first four years to help California pay down education-bond debt to help end the state's budget deficit. For the remaining eight years, the initiative directs 85 percent of the new funds to K-12 schools and 15 percent to early childhood education programs.