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Props 30 and 38 Explained: Which Do You Support?

Baffled by the two ballot initiatives seeking to send billions of dollars to public schools? Don't be. EdSource's new infographic makes it all clear. Which proposition do you support?

Ever since Hiram Johnson and his fellow Progressives made ballot initiatives a part of the California political landscape 100 years ago, the state’s voters have been obliged to grasp some fairly slippery policy issues before casting their votes. Propositions 30 and 38 on the November ballot are representative of the thorny problems other states assign to their legislators, but in California are punted to voters as popular referendums. 

Both propositions aim to send more money to the state’s public schools, but that’s pretty much where the similarities end. For typical voters, even those who care deeply about public education, deciphering the long-term consequences of a simple for or against vote could require hours sifting through the arcana of school finance.

Fortunately, the folks at EdSource did the hard work for us. They’ve prepared an infographic to explain the two propositions in a clear and illustrative format. As EdSource’s executive director Louis Freedberg noted in his accompanying blog, when voters are confused, they tend to vote against propositions—even propositions they might have supported had they possessed more knowledge.

Voters seeking yet more info on the initiatives can visit the Official Voter Information Guide, as well as analyses from the Legislative Analyst’s Office, the California Budget Project, the League of Women Voters, and the Silicon Valley Education Foundation. They can also go to the official campaign websites of Prop. 30 and Prop. 38.

Brenda Steffen October 19, 2012 at 10:47 PM
Parcel taxes work in areas where voters will approve them, but they do nothing to help the students and schools in communities where parcel taxes aren't an option. I live in one of those areas, I am part of the 50+ crowd and I really want my grandchildren to have a quality education. That's why I'm voting for Prop 38.
Susan D.Keeffe October 19, 2012 at 10:49 PM
CJ, This is America. Since when do teachers give up their freedom of speech rights? If they choose to purchase a button and wear it they have a right to do so. What they cannot do is use their teaching as a bullly pulpit and proselytize. That is against the law. Teachers and administrators are free to express their opinions outside of the classroom itself via parent meetings, etc.
David Johnston October 19, 2012 at 10:54 PM
Even top performing teachers are not going to affect those students who hold no value in an education, or to those students who are more focused on survival before and after school. Children need to come to school ready to learn, and sadly, in many underperforming schools, that’s not the case.
Brenda Steffen October 19, 2012 at 11:01 PM
It costs a lot less to educate a child than it does to incarcerate an adult for the rest of his/her life. I want all of our children to be educated contributors to the society in which we will live the rest of our lives. But they won't be educated if we aren't willing to pay what it costs to educate them. And, we will pay a much bigger bill down the road.
TMoraga October 19, 2012 at 11:04 PM
Not to mention the concept of bad test scores and performance vs teacher pay is ass backwards. Higher teacher salary at under performing schools happens because skilled teachers require more pay to convince them to work at under performing schools. Very well performing schools offer things that teachers want and are willing to accept less pay to get.
CJ October 19, 2012 at 11:06 PM
SDK- I really have to point out that when you are prosleytizing and advocating a political idealogy or position in a public school it is inappropriate? Really? Maybe you need to go back to Civics class?
TMoraga October 19, 2012 at 11:09 PM
Brenda Steffen - very very true however when you have BART drivers making $80,000 a year with a HS diploma and 3rd yr science teachers with 5yrs of college making $35,000 a year you can see why the teaching career faces some major issues regarding truly skilled and qualified teachers in the future. Back when schools had their own bus service and bus drivers. My dad went to the school board to confront the pay scale affecting his ability to hire qualified teachers for the Science dept. His issue? Simple the school bus drivers were actually being paid more than what his science teachers were being paid. That was back in the 80's.
Brenda Steffen October 19, 2012 at 11:16 PM
Prop 38 provides funding to restore, strengthen and expand early childhood education programs specifically for the families that need it most.
Susan D.Keeffe October 19, 2012 at 11:33 PM
@CJ, You are mixing up teaching a state and school board approved curriculum with a teacher using the classroom to espouse his or her private views- that's proselytizing. And it's an Ed Code violation and can get a teacher fired.
Milan Moravec October 19, 2012 at 11:40 PM
Keep the California dream alive and well. Vote No on Prop 30, 38, 32. Save California for our children. Decisions you make on Nov 6 determine California’s course for years. We are kidding ourselves by believing that education funding shortfalls disappear with Prop 30, Prop 38. Prop 30, Prop 38 levy significant taxes on each one of us. The wounds that Prop 30, 38 are to heal have been self inflicted largely by our elected Sacramento politicians who simply do not say no to any influential interest group be they, University of California (29% increase in salaries last 6 years), public employees, business, teachers, or other unions or lobbyists. And now Prop 30, 38 are used by Sacramento politicians and lobbyists to blackmail us.
Brenda Steffen October 20, 2012 at 12:13 AM
Chris, Proposition 38 specifies that the dollars it would provide to schools would be in addition to the state’s minimum annual Proposition 98 funding obligation and could not be used to “supplant or replace” local, state, or federal support for K-12 education or child care and preschool programs.
CarolH October 20, 2012 at 12:16 AM
@Milan - Well said and agree with you - Voting no on both 30 and 38!
RJ Stewart October 20, 2012 at 12:17 AM
I am voting no on both 30 and 38. I think we are already paying enough in taxes and are throwing good money after bad. With the apparent decline of California's education system why are the systems' top administrators seeminingly increasing in number and pay?
Brenda Steffen October 20, 2012 at 12:29 AM
I agree that teachers should be paid more and deserve more (there are two teachers in my family, too) - but that is not an option if the school districts cannot even provide the instructional programs and materials that are needed. If our society valued educators as much as we do entertainers and athletes, we'd all be in better place. But, that's not the subject of this column.
Steve Cohn October 20, 2012 at 12:29 AM
You obviously were not at the symposium last night at the Orinda Library sponsored by the Education Foundation of Orinda. Without prop 30, per student funding from the state will drop about 20% (Prop 38 does not kick in for a year so it will drop next year even if Prop 38 does pass). We are already in the bottom 5 of all 50 states. That will probably put us at the bottom. Pretty darn good. What will it cost? Unless you are a family with a taxable income of over $500,000, its only impact will be to add one quarter of one percent to your sales tax. If you purchase a $40,000 car, that will be an extra $100. (22 gallons of gas). I really don't think that is too onerous. You really had to see the graphs to understand the problem. Orinda is rich. 40% of school funding comes from the community. But the rest of the state will either implode or explode. Enjoy your new car and extra $100 while you can.
Chris Nicholson October 20, 2012 at 12:30 AM
@Brenda: but there will be a debate about whether Prop 98 spending minimums can be met, in part, with Prop 38 money. Prop 38 should have been a Constitutional amendment to resolve this glitch.
Brenda Steffen October 20, 2012 at 12:49 AM
Yes, it's possible. I'd rather vote for Prop 38 and then let them have the debate. At least we will have new funding in place for twelve years. Prop 30 will decrease the Prop 98 guarantee, too.
Jason October 20, 2012 at 12:52 AM
Maybe if the state would stop giving away all our tax money to illegal aliens, they would have more to spend on educating Americans. Back when Californians overwhelmingly passed prop 187, we told you this was going to happen.
Brenda Steffen October 20, 2012 at 12:57 AM
Prop 38 will go a long way toward supporting education for twelve years. Forty percent of taxpayers will not see any tax increase from Prop 38 and Prop 38 does not levy ANY sales tax increase.
Karen LaRiviere October 20, 2012 at 12:59 AM
Susan, you sound like one of the few truly informed voters who has done their homework. Unfortunately, everyone else in this "I've got mine, screw the rest of you" society don't care that we are 47th out of 50 states. Making it even worse is that Benicia is the lowest funded Unified School district in the state of California and we couldn't pass a $4.86 a month parcel tax a few years ago because of comments like on here. People who had no problem with everyone paying for THEIR kids back in the day, but hell no, they aren't paying for anyone else's kid now. Or I love the "we had 40 kids in our classrooms so why doesn't it work now?" Maybe because it didn't take so long with stone tablets as it does now with all the technology that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars that they didn't have back in "the day." There's no doubt that California has it's problems but we keep electing people who don't fix the problems. Funny thing is, the reddest part of our state, the real "no more taxes" part uses the most social services of any other part of the state. So, I say cut them off first and then work our way out.
Brenda Steffen October 20, 2012 at 01:02 AM
I don't know where you are getting your information about administrators. There aren't enough qualified administrators out there anymore who are willing to take jobs in California. Why do you think the education system continues to decline? With $20 billion in state cuts to education over the past four years, it's pretty hard to continue to provide students with a decent and well-rounded education. I don't know where you live, but in my school district, school administrators have been hit hard and school counselors haven't existed for the past 10 or more years.
Milan Moravec October 20, 2012 at 03:13 AM
Decisions you make on Nov 6 determine California’s course for years. We are kidding ourselves by believing that education funding shortfalls disappear with Prop 30, Prop 38. Prop 30, Prop 38 levy significant taxes on each one of us. The wounds that Prop 30, 38 are to heal have been self inflicted largely by our elected Sacramento politicians who simply do not say no to any influential interest group be they, University of California (29% increase in salaries last 6 years), public employees, business, teachers, or other unions or lobbyists. And now Prop 30, 38 are used by Sacramento politicians and lobbyists to blackmail us.
Frozen Waffles October 20, 2012 at 04:36 AM
I feel sorry for the average Californian. These propositions are too confusing. There is no where to turn for an objective opinion. i mean no offense to the fine people who have commented before me but from reading their notes most don't cite facts they just tell their opinion. There is no place to turn to for objective information and the politicians have made everything related to the budget and school funding so confusing that it is impossible for the average person to interpret the issues. I can not vote since I'm a Canadian citizen but my wife is an American citizen. She finally gave up on these two propositions and left them blank. It is a shame that the system is set up so that all we hear are partisan opinions and everything related to the budget is so muddled that your average citizen can't figure this stuff out. There must be a better way. Something more simple for the voter who wants to do the right thing but hears 10 different opinions and none of them objective. Americans had a good model for democracy. What happened?
Chris Nicholson October 20, 2012 at 02:24 PM
@Steve C: I was at the Library and I have read the voter info guide and the Legislative Analyst's report. You numbers are off. Overall spending on education will INCREASE from $41B to $42B if Prop 30 *fails*, otherwise it will increase to $47B. If is PASSES per pupil funding next year will go DOWN by a few dollars. If it FAILS, per-pupil spending decreases by about 7%. This is all per the current budget. Notes: this was architected by the marketing department, not the policy department. The anomaly is due to the CHOICE to include in the budget the one-time "catch up" of prior deferrals that, in realty, could be rolled indefinitely. In future years, you won't see this effect. In fact, the math would allow for 15%-20% increases in per-public spending in 2014, but they are careful to not promise this. Why? Because this is NOT hard wired, Sacramento could choose this outcome or choose to shift money out of Ed. Also: With the economy recovering, the overall revenue outlook for the state is already improving. This means that, even without Prop 30 or 38, we almost certainly have seen the bottom. There is no (fresh) crisis. We have time to comprehensively fix the system instead of being duped by a gimmick that will allow the dysfunctional status quo to persist.
Williefan4ever October 20, 2012 at 03:28 PM
If you care about public schooling of our kids at all you would vote yes in both. As the person above said, you get what you pay for. Calufornia has cut spending in public education where we have gone from 1st in nation in spending per capita to 48th. If prop 30 does not pass, kids will very likely lose 15 days, 3 weeks , if class days. That is very real. These kids will never get to be kids again. We need to recommit with our pocketbooks to public education.
Milan Moravec October 20, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Searching for some examples of how the education funds rom Prop 30, 38 will be used? Examples follow. Here's how education funds are used...University of California Chancellor Birgeneau ($450,000), Provost Breslauer ($306,000) pick pockets of in-state students, their parents clean. Birgeneau’s, Provost’s tuition increases ranked public Cal. the # 1 most expensive (during the greatest recession of modern times) for in-state students. B & B’s 14% annual tuition increases (2006 – 20012) illustrates an out of touch, self-serving Cal. senior management. Robert J Birgeneau and Provost forget they are public servants, stewards of the public money, not overseers of their own fiefdom. Let’s review how they used tax funding: Pay ex-politician $300,000 for several lectures; Recruit affluent foreign & affluent out of state students who displace qualified instate applicants; Spend millions (prominent East Coast university accomplishing same at 0 cost) for OE consultants to remove Chancellor, Provost created inefficiencies but prevent OE from examining Cal. senior management. Email marsha.kelman@ucop.edu Calif. State Senators, Assembly Members (The author has 35 years’ management consulting, taught at Cal. where he observed the culture & ways of senior management & yes was not fired).
Milan Moravec October 20, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Steven Cohn...some examples of how University of California will use education funds from Prop 30, 38. The facts are always friendly. University of California Chancellor Birgeneau ($450,000), Provost Breslauer ($306,000) pick pockets of in-state students, their parents clean. Birgeneau’s, Provost’s tuition increases ranked public Cal. the # 1 most expensive (during the greatest recession of modern times) for in-state students. B & B’s 14% annual tuition increases (2006 – 20012) illustrates an out of touch, self-serving Cal. senior management. Robert J Birgeneau and Provost forget they are public servants, stewards of the public money, not overseers of their own fiefdom. Let’s review how they used tax funding: Pay ex-politician $300,000 for several lectures; Recruit affluent foreign & affluent out of state students who displace qualified instate applicants; Spend millions (prominent East Coast university accomplishing same at 0 cost) for OE consultants to remove Chancellor, Provost created inefficiencies but prevent OE from examining Cal. senior management. Email marsha.kelman@ucop.edu Calif. State Senators, Assembly Members (The author has 35 years’ management consulting, taught at Cal. where he observed the culture & ways of senior management & yes was not fired).
Milan Moravec October 21, 2012 at 04:18 AM
Quinton Tom...everyone cares about public education but unfortunately barnicles - -- Sacramento politicians and lobbyists - skim $ that are targeted for our children. Examples of how the University of California (lobbyist) skims Prop 30, 38 education funds. Let’s review how public Cal senior management handled the tax dollars it currently gets. Nobody’s perfect, but some higher education chancellor provost are much less perfect as stewards of public funds than others. University of California Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau ($450,000) Provost Breslauer ($306,000) have forgotten they are steward’s of public money, not overseer of their own fiefdoms. Cal tuition triples last decade, Californians income went stagnant. Birgeneau, Provost Breslauer do not have a grip on financial realities. Pay ex Michigan governor $300,000 for lectures Tuition increases exceed national average rate of increase. University accrues $150 million of inefficiencies over last 8 years Recruits foreign students who pay $50,600 and displace qualified Californians. Spends $7,000,000 + for OE consultants to do the work of senior Cal. management. (Prominent East Coast University accomplishes same, 0 costs). In procuring $7,000,000 consultants failed to receive proposals from other firms (Consultants do their thinking for them, who they then can blame for all unpopular but necessary decisions)
Milan Moravec October 23, 2012 at 03:32 AM
Einstein on Prop. 30, Prop. 38 – “Spending more money on doing what has been done in the past and hoping for a better outcome is insanity”. Have the innovative, thoughtful, insightful, creative teachers and faculty create methodologies to increase learning with significantly reduced resources $. Be American do more with less! No on 30, No on 38 and No on 32
TMoraga October 23, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Milan - there is no Learning methodology that fixes hungry kids - kids that lack sleep or simply can't do basic things to enable them the chance of functioning in a classroom. Teachers are greatly limited in the types of activities they can do based on the nature of the class they have. One class will function well and do exceptionally well with a particular activity the next class might implode with the very same activity due to behavioral issues or learning disabilities etc. Teachers who have taught for many years have a bag of activities and tricks they draw from based on the classroom dynamic and the kids they have. My dad did a lab activity last month that he had not done in over 15yrs. How does he know that? Simple when he pulled his file on the activity the last time he used it was 15yrs ago. Two other science teachers were amazed by the activity and wanted to know where he had read about it etc. He just laughed and said Oh I've been doing that lab for years but hadn't tried it in the past 15yrs because the classes he had were just a bad match to the activity. A skilled teacher knows what order of events and activities they can run in a class for a successful experience vs one that simply implodes and becomes just a wasted hour etc.

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