Where School Money’s Needed, Where It Goes
My husband and I have begun repairs on our house. We have wanted to do them for years but have held off because we didn’t have the funds. We had to prioritize our spending and budget our money until we could afford it. This is not a new concept. It’s one our parents used. But it seems to be foreign to many here in Southern California.
Take our school districts, for instance. One local school district recently cut several elementary classroom programs and threatened to increase the 20-to-1 classroom ratio because it didn’t have the budget for such essentials. At the same time, however, it began building two new and expensive aquatic complexes. More and more school districts are paying for the goodies first, knowing that taxpayers will always spend money for their children’s basic education when push comes to shove later.
That’s probably one of the reasons we are faced with more than $10 billion in bond measures this election. With only a 55% majority needed (thanks to Proposition 39), many of these bonds will now pass. And all of us will pay the bill. Before you vote on these bond issues, I urge you to check out district spending records. Look at their budgets and see where they’ve chosen to put their funds. You may be surprised. Like all of us, local governments need to prioritize spending of their limited funds instead of always looking for someone else to pick up the tab.
There is no question, no denial, no hesitancy: Orange County school buildings need repair and maintenance desperately. More than a third of our K-12 schools are already in line for Proposition 47 funds, money earmarked to complete projects affecting the health and safety of our children. There is no reasonable, legitimate excuse for not approving Proposition 47 on Nov. 5. We owe our children clean and safe places to learn and, at this moment, about 200,000 of them are being denied that right.
As your elected county superintendent of schools, it is my responsibility to keep you informed on the status of public education in Orange County. Recent test scores show that our children are performing among the best in California and across the nation. Our instructional program is world-class, but many of our school buildings need restoration. We cannot expect our children to profit from a first-class education in third-class buildings.
Proposition 47 is not only good, responsible stewardship, but it’s good business too. As voters in a donor county, we know all too well that we have many more opportunities to give than to receive. With our help, Proposition 47 can return to Orange County school districts and higher education campuses $600 million, creating jobs and good will, clean classrooms and safer environment for all of us.
Children are counting on us to do what’s right. Vote yes on Proposition 47.
William M. Habermehl
Superintendent of Schools
Re “Education Standards Threatened,” Sept. 25:
Public educators have demanded, and received, ever more money for decades, always promising us that more money would somehow improve things. It never does. There is no correlation between spending and educational achievement. Yet the powerful unions in control of our children’s educational future continue to lie to our faces and fail to teach our children even the basics.
Nobel laureate and teacher Milton Friedman campaigns tirelessly for educational reform, especially vouchers. Said Friedman, “Public education is a socialist monopoly.” It is time to overhaul education. It is time to eliminate tenure, moderate the profound imbalance in teachers’ salaries (the highest paid teachers earn three times as much as starters), eliminate the extreme leftist bias in education and give parents real choice by way of vouchers.