Writing a check for $400 is not considered a tax?

That’s what Capistrano Unified School District is asking parents to do, pay $400 out of their pockets to try to keep from having to lay off hundreds of teachers in their district.  This is not considered a tax in of itself?

South Orange County families are being urged to donate $400 per student to save the jobs of 266 teachers in the Capistrano Unified School District.

Parents at Long Beach’s Longfellow Elementary are among countless statewide who are launching fundraising foundations. Bay Area parents launched a campaign featuring children standing in trash cans; the theme is “Public Education is Too Valuable to Waste.”

A free public school education is guaranteed by the state Constitution to every California child. But as districts grapple with proposed state funding cuts that could cause the layoffs of thousands of teachers and inflate class sizes, parents are being asked to dig deeper into their pocketbooks to help.

“Public education is free, but an excellent public education is not free at this point,” said Janet Berry, president of the Davis Schools Foundation, which recently launched the Dollar-a-Day campaign, urging citizens of the Yolo County city to donate $365 per child, grandchild or student acquaintance. But “we never really imagined the magnitude of the problem, the budget cuts, would be this great.”


And even though parents may be able to afford this extra money, can other districts say this?

“Parents in well-to-do communities can raise significant sums of money to augment their local schools’ budgets, while schools in low-income neighborhoods fall further behind,” said state Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell. “This is part of the reason that we have an achievement gap in California. We have an economic and moral imperative to close this gap.”

In the Anaheim City School District, four of every five district students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, a poverty indicator. A district volunteer-led foundation raises about $50,000 annually through employee contributions and fundraisers to send all sixth graders to overnight science camp in the San Bernardino Mountains.

The Anaheim parents are never asked to do more than volunteer for small fundraisers, such as bake sales or selling gift wrap or entertainment books.

“It’s not even a consideration to be able to ask them for money,” said district spokeswoman Suzi Brown. “When we look at what other districts are doing, they’ve got foundations that have paid staff. We don’t compete with that at all. We are in a completely different league.”

Why so short?  I find myself at a loss at times  when trying to wrap my brain around this.  And I’m tired of it coming down to Libs and Reeps and whatever other derogatory name people use to call the other partisan in the conversation.  Ultimately it doesn’t matter if our children cannot rely on a free and public education (Yes, I know, nothing is free, I get that).  What are we telling our children by not making their future a priority?  And what good does the name calling do, does it fix one thing we disagree with?  Does it change anyone’s mind?

I ask myself why I even bother blogging about politics because it can bring out the worst in people when I want to bring out the best.  I do take it personally because this is personal.  Education, the environment and our communities are very personal to me.  I get that I am naive and I refuse to change that.  But this nonsense I write about now, it’s what turns people off from politics and it’s what makes them tune out except in the most dire circumstances as the one we face right now.

Why bring this up now?  Because I am tired of the people who attempt to make things better for people having to defend the most trivial of issues in order to try to do their job or to try to be elected to office.  Politics was meant for all to be involved in but we’ve turned so many away and we’ve set the divide to be so deep and far that I wonder if the process matters anymore.

People should come first, before the partisanship and before the endless name calling and fighting.  The most important thing gets lost in this muck, that people should come before profit margins and that our priorities say a great deal about who we are as a society.   So call me a lib or a pinko, but this is not about Democratic, Declined to State or Republican, it’s about what is the right thing to do for our children and our community.

  2 comments for “Writing a check for $400 is not considered a tax?

  1. April 20, 2008 at 10:07 am

    Excellent framing of this article. Feel like crossposting it to Calitics?

    What this shows is that Republicans are openly embracing aristocracy. At one time their party used to believe in populism and economic opportunity. No longer. Now they believe that the only people entitled to a public education are those who can pay for it out of their own pocket – and if you can’t, well, that’s your own damn fault. In order to protect the wealthy from further taxation, everyone else must sacrifice social mobility and economic growth.

  2. Dan Chmielewski
    April 21, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    Irvine parents are shaken down annually to help fund for our scools what the state will not. It amounts to a tax increase; I just wish the state would tax me for the amount and make sure it goes to the classroom woithout restrictions on how the local district can spend it.

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