Problems with Proposition 2

When I first heard about Prop 2, my skeptical side thought, “Really?” This was followed by, “It’s about time.” Good – saving the state’s money by planning and by reducing interest costs is a  good thing.

But then, from Statistics, Biomedical Ethics, English, Business Management, Economics and every other training-in-critical-thinking and how-to-learn class came:  Is it logical? How do you know? Is it reasonable, true or even useful?

I hadn’t suspended judgment about it – hadn’t asked any real questions or allowed time to percolate Prop 2 through past-, present-, or future-checking.

If you’ve taken any of Prof. Pearson’s Management classes, you’ll have heard that listening to public radio is a good habit.  I’d like to share potentially useful information – first heard in an NPR, Sacramento broadcast and followed up on their website after Monday’s ICC meeting.

Not only is there opposition to Prop 2, but also failure to support from groups that one might have expected the reverse:  “statewide associations that represent California school boards and administrators are remaining neutral on Prop 2.”

Why? Because apparently after Prop 2 qualified for the November ballot, there appeared new words to “cap school districts’ reserves in any year the state puts money into a new and separate ‘rainy day fund’ for schools that’s created by Prop 2 … unless a county superintendent grants an exemption.”

It seems Prop 2 was supposed to include promises to help schools, but later, the state’s budget was passed with wording that would rescind promises of help unless districts have restricted efforts to help themselves.

Is that a good argument for not creating or adding to a reserve fund just in case there might be available help that year? Or when enacted, as opposed to what people have been told would happen when Prop 2 passes, would district emergency funds already in existence invoke the “cap” and block access to state funding?  Who could we ask three days before the election?

According to Capitol Public Radio, Jennifer Bestor of the non-profit parent volunteer group “Educate Our State,” explained, theoretically, they don’t object to a “rainy day fund,” but do object to how the cap happened:  “It simply appeared out of nowhere at the 59th minute of the eleventh hour. And we couldn’t believe that something so blatantly wrong – such a power grab – would come out of Sacramento at a time that they were touting local control.”

Who wanted the provision? Why was it important? What did they promise to get support for making what looks like a suspicious and self-contradictory decision?

If the state had not been pulling money for itself out of local funding, school districts might not have to care about Prop 2’s consequences.

From the NPR website: “Supporters of the provision argue that the districts ought to spend the money in the classroom – not store it in an unreasonably large reserve.”

Is that a reasonable, responsible or merely enlightening statement?

Can we expect reasonable decisions from supporters who rationalize capping district reserves while touting state savings and use a word that would probably mean different amounts to every group involved?

Can we even trust them to support a state reserve fund? A final nauseating quote:  “They’re counting on the governor’s promise to revisit the issue next year.” Why would I want to vote into California’s Constitution something that is already known to need “revisiting” if it passes?

I  give the supporters one more year to get it right.