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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Rebuttal To Teacher Union President On Props 1A-E

On Wednesday the Press-Telegram ran a letter to the editor from Michael Day, President of the Teachers Association of Long Beach (TALB) which I re-print below and link here. Mr. Day uses his letter to try to convince voters why they need to vote "yes" on Propositions 1A through E on Tuesday May 19th; or should I say scare voters into supporting the measures?

I have been publicly critical of Day in the past, most notably several posts I wrote for the Long Beach Post (you can click this link then put TALB in archives section, or for sample see this post); the main source of my criticism was not so much Day as the Executive Director of TALB until his dismissal last year, Scott McVarish. Since McVarish arrived in Long Beach TALB became increasingly militant and power hungry in his attempt to control the Long Beach Unified School District. After a take over of the union by the California Teachers Association and an audit which showed significant malfeasance by more than one staff member at TALB McVarish "resigned." During this period Day was the President of the local and acted very much in concert with McVarish and his plans for controlling the district. Since McVarish has left TALB has been working for their teachers more and against the district less.

With that as background here is Michael Day's letter to the editor on Wednesday May 13, 2009 to the Press-Telegram, my letter will follow:

Propositions support schools

For the last few years the employees and students of Long Beach Unified have dealt with dwindling support from Sacramento while maintaining high academic standards. Because of decreased funding we have seen support for students cut through reductions of specialists, aides, nurses and tutoring programs as the district works to maintain fundamental services for our kids. Even services we used to consider part of our core program, such as libraries, music and counseling, are being pared back to near non-existence.

The public needs to realize how important propositions 1A through 1E are to our schools. We need to support propositions 1A and 1B to restore the $9.3 billion Sacramento has taken from our schools while creating a plan to repay those vital funds. We need to support propositions 1C through 1E to ensure our schools do not suffer billions in cuts next year. We have been getting by the last couple of years, while making great academic gains, but a defeat at the ballot box will only cause suffering for the students we serve and the people who serve them.

For years teachers have been told we must do more with less. But if propositions 1A through 1E do not pass we will do less with less. The public and the politicians demand a great deal of accountability and performance from our schools. And in Long Beach our teachers, administrators and classified staffs meet those challenges. But until the public and politicians
are willing to equate adequate funding with performance we will not have the system our students deserve. Not for a lack of effort on our part but for a lack resolve on theirs. Please vote "yes" on Propositions 1A through 1E.

Michael Day
Teachers Association of Long Beach

Today, Thurdsay May 14th, the Press-Telegram printed my rebuttal to Mr. Day (link here, 2nd letter):

Support for schools

Re "Propositions support schools" (Letters, May 13):
Michael Day, president of the Teachers Association of Long Beach, is right: Our teachers, administrators and staff in the Long Beach Unified School District do a tremendous job educating my children and tens of thousands of others. He is correct that every year this job is being done with less and less support from Sacramento.

However, Day and others in Sacramento and in the public employee unions are perpetuating a fallacy in saying we must support Propositions 1A through 1E so our schools and other services will not face more cuts. Even if the propositions pass we will see cuts in services while state government continues to grow.

In the past 10 years the size of the state budget has doubled. Since California must have a balanced budget, this means that revenue to the state has also doubled in the past 10 years. In the past few years our schools have cut computer classes, science camps, counselors, music, reading and arts programs. Our state government has doubled in size and our school programs have been cut with more to follow.

I ask Mr. Day and other supporters of the propositions: In the past 10 years has the quality of education doubled? Has the funding for local schools doubled? While we have seen our taxes increase have we seen a corresponding increase in the level and quality of services delivered? I answer "no" to each of these questions, just as I will also vote on Props 1A-E.

What makes Mr. Day or other supporters of Props 1A-E think that giving Sacramento more money will not lead to even more cuts in funding for local education and programs? Voting "yes" on Props. 1A-E will just enable Sacramento to continue to spend our tax dollars to the benefit of public payrolls with no tangible benefit to our students or our citizens. If you need proof just look at the last 10 years.

Dennis C. Smith
Long Beach

Quit enabling Sacramento while disabling our schools and communities, vote no on Props1A-E!

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