|Even Republican teachers oppose propositions|
I am one of an estimated 134,000 Republican teachers in California, a proud dues-paying member of California Teachers Association, and a member of the CTA Republican Caucus. And I am voting no on propositions 74, 75 and 76.
The recent onslaught of radio ads and commercials supporting these propositions are at best intentionally deceitful and at worst morally corrupt.
Contrary to the false claims of Proposition 74 supporters, teachers can be and are fired. Given that California Education Code does not grant "tenure' to K-12 teachers, it is deceitful to claim teachers have a "virtual job for life.' School districts have long had the legal authority to fire teachers without any severance or settlement pay. School district management and school boards determine whether or not any settlement is proffered when the school district believes it needs to release a teacher.
Proposition 74 will cost school districts more taxpayer money to evaluate teachers for the proposed additional three years. In my school district, administrators are contractually bound to evaluate teachers at least eight times during the current two-year probationary period. On those rare occasions when an incompetent probationary employee is advanced through this evaluation net, it is not the probationary employee who is responsible.
All teachers want only top-notch teachers educating our students. But Proposition 74 is not the answer. Extending the probationary period from two years to five years will only further discourage the best and brightest from entering the teaching profession, the very opposite of Proposition 74's purported intention.
I urge voters to please vote no on Proposition 74. Supporters of Proposition 75, or the Payroll Protection Initiative, are to a large extent corporate millionaires and billionaires. Obviously, teachers, nurses, and firefighters, the targets of Proposition 75, are ineligible for this club.
Teachers have appropriately re-named it the "Payroll Deception Initiative.' Again, contrary to the increasing number of lies in ads, CTA members already have the means by which they may opt out of contributing dues toward political action. Indeed, approximately 31,000 members statewide already take advantage of the opportunity to opt out of political action. To claim teachers cannot opt out when 31,000 already do is an absolute lie.
Given the means to opt out, why then should willing dues-paying members be required each year to give written permission to elected CTA representatives and officers to politically represent us in public education issues before the state Legislature and California voters? Why would any teacher want CTA to spend their dues on a bureaucratic method that would require yearly processing of forms for 335,000 teachers rather than a one-time processing of forms for 31,000? Using fiscally sound principles, CTA acted as a wise and prudent steward of my dues by establishing an opt-out system, as opposed to a costly, fiscally imprudent, paper wasteful opt-in system. The terrible irony is that the new system would by necessity either increase my dues or decrease currently provided services, such as good teaching conferences, educators concerns conferences, leadership conferences and training.
Finally, as a conservative Republican, I understand that CTA's has a very narrow focus when determining how and on whom to spend my dues monies. Very simply and appropriately for a teachers' union, CTA supports legislation and candidates supporting public education. I urge voters to please vote no on Proposition 75. How in the world anyone can claim that Proposition 76 will put more money into the classroom is beyond belief. The fact is that Proposition 76 will eliminate $4 billion from education funding. That translates to approximately $600 per student in every class across California. Where would we be forced to make further cuts? Class size, more teacher layoffs, professional development, sports programs, or salaries? Too often, teachers don't even get cost of living adjustments. Proposition 76 would balance the state budget on the backs of students and teachers.
Surely, with all the highly educated legislators, millionaires and billionaires, and savvy voters California enjoys, there must be a better way to balance our state budget. Proposition 76 is not the ladder out of the financial hole.
I urge voters to please vote no on Proposition 76. Unfortunately, public education has some real enemies whose hidden, but brutal agenda is to fracture CTA and maim public education in order to resuscitate school vouchers.
Our Founding Fathers, however, believed in public education. If perchance there is something a voter doesn't like about public education, don't destroy the entire building to remove a single brick. Republican or Democrat, union or nonunion, voters must realize that these politically motivated propositions are wrong-headed, misdirected, fiscally unsound, and suspiciously financed by millionaires and billionaires.
Recognize too, the supporters of these propositions are hoping voters are absent from the voting polls on Tuesday. I urge voters to get out and vote on Tuesday. It's our right; it's our responsibility. I urge voters to please send a strong message of support for public education by voting no on propositions 74, 75 and 76.
Nancy G. Morin, Vacaville The author is a teacher at Golden West Middle School in the Travis Unified School District, president of the Travis Unified Teachers' Association and a member of the California Teachers Association -- Editor