Sunday, September 23, 2018

Who Ruined California's Public Schools?


Illegal immigrants have flooded the state! And public schools are choking on the excessive amount of students! Not to mention that most of the students can't even speak English!

Who ruined California's Public Schools?

"Illegal immigrants."

That's the accusation that is being tossed around these days.

"Illegal immigrants have flooded the state! And public schools are choking on the excessive amount of students! Not to mention that most of the students can't even speak English!"

I hear this sentiment echoed through different media channels daily from the CNN policy analysts in their stripey fancy suits to some over weight lady in a fanny pack being interviewed on her front lawn in Sylmar. The fingers all point to the "broken border."

Currently, there is political firestorm brewing about the border and immigration reform. I would like to focus on just one dimension of the debate : the decay public schools in the state. Who are we to blame?

Your parents.

Allow me to explain. Up until the 1980's California was a model state for public education (K-12). We ranked 18th in school spending. California public school funding came predominately from property taxes (85%). The revenue that was collected from property tax was put into a pool and doled out to the state's schools.

Since the 1920's California property has always been, well, caliente. The proliferation of the sprawling suburbs, the rise of a sophisticated freeway system, the temperate climate, the coast, the mountains, the schools all caused housing market to explode by the 1970's. However, even after you were able to buy a new home in California, the property value would continue skyrocket. Consequently, the amount a home owner would pay in property tax also continued to soar.

Grandma and Gramps were soon being taxed out of their homes. New homeowners could not stay in a neighborhood long due to their property tax. Property owners screamed as taxes went up ten and twenty percent per year -- with no end in sight.

The housing market was erratic.

Communities were destabilizing.

The people were getting pissed.

Enter Howard Jarvis, a crusty old white guy to be sure, but also a fierce populist politician who led the crusade against property taxes. Jarvis and the Tax Payers Association of California successfully tapped into the fear and frustration of California homeowners and got proposition 13 on the Ballot in 1978.

Prop. 13 capped property tax at 1 % of the ORIGINAL sale value. Meaning, if you bought a home in Laguna Beach in the 1970's for 300,000 you would only pay 3,000 in property taxes a year. Even today, your home maybe worth 850,000. You still pay 3,000. Pretty sweet deal.

The opponents of Prop. 13 exclaimed that funding for local government, public education, police, fireman and social services would be de-funded to brink annihilation.

No matter, Proposition 13 and other anti-tax measures still passed by a landslide in 1978. California historians refer to the election at as the "Tax Payers Revolt." Indeed, the homeowners insurgency has had lasting and harrowing effects that are still felt today. Prop 13 resulted in a cut in local property tax revenue of $6 Billion. School districts lost, on average, HALF their property tax revenue. By 1980, California plummeted from 18th in the nation for school funding to 40th!

We are currently ranked 42nd --- that's below Kentucky-- in school spending. Even though California has the 9th highest per capita income in the nation and has some of the most expensive property in the country, all that wealth is siphoned away from the public schools due to Prop. 13. In the words of one policy analyst "We've chosen mediocre public service, and more private money. We've decided not to tax ourselves as much. We've basically turned our back on schools. It's a choice we made within our state."

Now we have a severe teacher shortage, piss-poor test scores, and no real remedy sight. Bush's "No Child Left Behind" act only further exacerbates the problem by putting financial sanctions on poor performing cash-strapped schools.

Prop. 13 does not just apply to homes, it also applies to ALL property. Meaning businesses are also capped at 1 %. If the state legislature or our burly Governor would increase the percentage to 3 or 4 percent then millions of dollars would poor back into our schools. There would be greater funding for more teachers which equals smaller classes sizes, tutors, college prep classes, and of course, bilingual classes.

The demise of California's public school is not an immigration issue, it's a financial constraint issue.

So next time you start blaming your Guatemalan gardener's kids for our dysfunctional schools, why don't you ask your parents how they voted on Prop. 13 instead?

About the Writer

Natasha VC is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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5 comments on Who Ruined California's Public Schools?

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By Annonymous on October 27, 2006 at 06:29 pm
This is a great example why "we the people" should not decide issues like this. A republic is better than a pure democracy.
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By readuntil on May 08, 2007 at 05:35 pm
What about California personal income taxes? They are outrageously high too, and penalize those who make money from dividends, capital gains, and so on. Has some of the shortfall of property tax between transferred to the income tax? How have personal tax rates changed since proposition 13? When you say we rank 18th or 42nd in school spending, is that the total dollar spending or spending per student? Given the high cost of living and high property values, and the vast number of people, I think the cost to run a school here should be the highest in the world. But our annual budget is around $120 billion, right? Where is all that money going?
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By nissa20 on October 04, 2009 at 08:40 pm

    The write of this article needs a thorough reality check ,  instead of living in  la la land .

   California taxpayers are already the HIGHEST TAXED PEOPLE IN THE USA ! 

      Immigrants, especially ILLEGAL immgirants ARE  a main reason California schools

 are so crowded and expensive .  Just look at the numbers .

    As the Speaker of the Assembly, Karen Bass, said,  we have too many people who pay little to

 nothing in State income tax.     On top of that -   liberals in California continue to pay out

 over  $10 BILLION dollar a year for free services and benefits to people who have broken the law

 and are here ILLEGALLY.   This means, in a recession year,  that  there will be significantly less

 money to spend on the legal residents of the State , and on public education.  And by legal residents,

 I mean, people of ALL races and colors  - since the writer of this article, is so obviously bigoted against


   Another hugh amount of money is sucked away from local school districts and sent to Sacramento

 to pay for the hugh bureaucracy in the Department of Education .  

  Repealing  Proposition 13 or  raising taxes on Californians already hard pressed financially would be the STUPIDEST THING any

 legislature  could do .  It would finish off the the housing industry, which, in some parts of the

 State,  is totally in the tank.   Half of all the  homeowners  I know

 are  either out of work, in foreclosure or struggling mightily to pay bills .  Some are seniors on fixed

 incomes .    Many have are

 stuck with mortgages that are higher than the worth of the house, and more than they can afford . 

  People are out of work,  can't find jobs,  can't pay mortgages, struggling to pay healthcare costs .

.  How  are they suppose

 to pay an additional  $ 10,000  -  $ 20,000 a year in property taxes when they HAVE NO MONEY ?

   We have one of the highest unemployment rates in the country .  Business tax revenue is severely

 hampered because of the recession/ depression and because CALIFORNIA HAS SOME OF THE HIGHEST



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By l0oree on October 17, 2011 at 01:26 am

I have always said it should be the opposite the children not passing cost the most to get them not left behind.

Same with my job pt's that are non-compliant and then labs don't meet goal cost more to get them to meet goal because they need extra treatmens more meds more time teaching; but if the lab is not met the goal medicare does not pay for that whole month of treatment for that pt. Some might say well good for them maybe now they will do better. Health issues don't work like that and the decreased income to the clinic for the government not paying makes it worse for all the patients. Sorry I am off on another tangent.

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By l0oree on October 17, 2011 at 04:09 am

And should get even more of the money not less.

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