California teachers opposed two ballot propositions that are politically motivated. Like fraternal twins, Propositions 226 and 227 don’t look the same, but they are identically conceived. Neither one is the product of a grassroots movement of concerned citizens. Both are financed by individual high-rollers with their own agendas. That’s why the League of Women Voters and the California Federation of Teachers urge voters to say “No” to this double-disaster on the June ballot.
The political idea behind 226 is to unbridle the power of big businesses, corporations, and wealthy individuals. The proposition would silence the voice of working people who belong to unions and favor the industries, lobbyists and millionaires who are paying to make this initiative the law. The League of Women Voters say that Proposition 226 will unfairly create two sets of rules for participation in elections.
Under Proposition 226, the rules for labor unions would set in motion a cumbersome bureaucracy that will virtually shut down political participation of workers. Union members would have to overcome a paperwork blockade to make organized contributions to campaigns. Incredibly, the amount of this paperwork is expected to cost government 2 million a year, and as much as 5 million for set-up costs in the first year. Private businesses will spend millions more to administer this bureaucratic nightmare.
There are few rules controlling the political clout of corporations. They don’t ask stockholders or employees for permission to spend corporate profits on partisan interests. They can spend unlimited amounts of money on lobbing campaigns that look like grassroots efforts, but are really just astro-turf. And they don’t even have to report this as political action. Businesses and corporations already have a big advantage when it comes to sending their messages at election time, but they want more. They don’t want any competition at all from the working men and women who might disagree with them. Please given union members a fair chance to be heard by voting “No” on Proposition 226.
Also opposed by teachers because it is unfair to parents, educators, school districts, and especially children, is Proposition 227. There are two good reasons to vote “No” on this unfair proposal. First, Proposition 227 would spend 50 million annually, half a billion dollars over 10 years, on a new program- not for schools – but for English instruction for adults who pledge to volunteer as tutors. The initiative doesn’t say where the 50 million will come from every year, and it doesn’t require any accountability for spending this huge sum of money. The state would be locked into a spending item for a program that never has to produce results, but will perpetually take money from other programs. Second, Proposition 227 takes away local control of decisions about teaching English. In fact, it bans all local programs and, instead, imposes a single teaching method on the whole state.
Like it or not, if Proposition 227 passes, your school district will have to go by the rules for educating learners that were written by one man. Your school board, your PTA, or your school principal couldn’t use local experience, training or good sense to set policy on teaching English – even though the State Board of Education recently ruled that local districts have the authority to use different methods. One very rich man with no education credentials, who ran twice for governor and still has political ambitions, wrote the ballot initiative that will put a stop to local decision-making.
The man’s name is Ron Unz, and most people in California had never heard of him before he put himself in the middle of a ballot controversy that gets a lot of media attention. California children should not suffer because one man has the power and the money to put a bad idea on the ballot. Concern over the perceived shortcomings of bilingual education can be translated into good policy changes to give kids the benefit of our best ideas. The California Federation of Teachers, along with the California PTA and California Schools Boards Association, is asking voters to say “No” to Proposition 227.
Proposition 226 and 227 are both on the ballot to serve narrow, personal and special interests. Your “No” vote will serve the interests of working men and women and of our schoolchildren.