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Back to School

By Shari Davis and Louise Jaffe

As summer draws to a close and the new school year approaches, Santa Monica Malibu families can expect a school year full of high quality teaching and continued strong community support for public education. We have a public school system capable of meeting the needs and nurturing the potential of most of our students, and a Board of Education and community that strives for continual improvement and to close the achievement gap that plagues American society.

While we believe that high quality public education should be available for every child, the high quality of our local schools is very much a product of the commitment of our local community. Because of voter-approved funding measures and last year’s historic City-School District funding agreement, our schools have been able to sustain improvement and maintain quality. Our schools continue to attract top notch teaching and administrative talent, and families continue to outbid each other in hopes of moving into our City so that their children can enjoy the social and academic benefits of attending fine neighborhood public schools.

Community for Excellent Public Schools is proud to have played a role in translating our community’s concern for high quality public education into increased, predictable, and stable ongoing local funding for our schools. Locally, we are in good shape for now. Statewide, we face a grave threat.

This year, “Back to School” will be quickly followed by “Back to the Ballot Box.” The Governor has called a special election for November 8th. Voters will be asked to approve or reject a constitutional amendment initiative: Proposition 76 -- “State Spending and School Funding Limits.”

If passed, Prop 76 will have a permanently chilling effect on school funding and accordingly, school quality. Prop 76 is designed to drastically decrease State spending both immediately and over time. Because California’s number one expenditure is public education, any significant decrease in State funding means a decrease in funding for public education.

Once the envy of the nation, California’s public schools are now ranked near the bottom of the heap in every objective measurement – student achievement, class size, teacher standards, teacher salary, and school facilities all suffer in California compared to other states.
A comprehensive report on California’s schools issued by RAND in January chronicles how this decline in California's K-12 system has paralleled the shrinking of per pupil financial support for education.
Prop 76 makes no attempt to improve school performance or school funding. Its objective is to reduce State spending and, if passed, it will do this by restricting future spending on public schools.


Community for Excellent Public Schools is committed to high quality public schools not just here in Santa Monica Malibu but throughout our State. We believe it is incumbent upon all of us – for public safety reasons, for economic reasons, for property value reasons, and most of all for moral reasons – to make California’s schools great again. California’s students require excellent public schools. California cannot afford to fail them.

We are proud to be part of a community that is leading the way. Our local investment in our public schools continues to pay dividends for our entire community. We hope that our residents and elected officials will continue to support and to demand high quality public education for all our students, all our students here in Santa Monica Malibu, and all our students in California. We cannot afford to do less. We cannot afford to save money at the expense of high quality public education.

When your children or neighbor’s children go back to school this September, remember to be proud of the opportunities you and our entire community have provided for them. When you go to vote in November, remember that all of California’s children deserve a good public education.

Shari Davis and Louise Jaffe are co-chairs of Community for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS)

PS --New voters must register by October 24 to be able to vote in the November 8 special election.

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