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Opinion

Why public schools might be better off without the lottery

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A customer buys lottery tickets at a liquor store in Hawthorne last October.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: When the California Lottery was passed in 1984, it was supposed to supplement school funding, not supplant it. That worked for the first year. (“The California lottery, public schools and the mystery of the ‘missing’ money,” June 18)

I was a Los Angeles Unified School District teacher back then and I remember getting to spend a whopping $50 toward teaching materials. The years after the lottery passed, legislators felt that with all the money coming in (about 3.5% of the education budget then), they didn’t need to increase education funding for inflation. Thus, there were no more gains to education from the lottery.

As a retired educator, I always thought the lottery was a bad idea, with many of the “players” being low-income people looking for a jackpot. To this day voters ask, “Where’s all that lottery money?” They incorrectly think schools are awash in lottery money that isn’t spent wisely.

Thus, the lottery has been detrimental, not helpful to schools. The hope for students in California is the 2020 proposal to change Proposition 13 so commercial property owners pay their fair share.

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Steve Leffert, Lake Balboa

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To the editor: Your article concerning how the lottery funds are allocated makes a mockery of what the voters had intended in 1984.

The fact that the lottery exists under a false pretext should make state auditors want to review the last 20 years of operations. All this, while making the lottery tickets more expensive, is clearly not benefiting education while continuing to bait players as the odds become even more astronomical.

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The lottery should be prohibited from expensive television advertising, and all advertising allocations should be reviewed.

Betty Seidmon-Vidibor, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Steve Lopez routinely notes that the LAUSD spends about $8,000 less per student than New York City schools do. He does not demonstrate whether New York’s higher spending makes its schools better than Los Angeles’.

What does the extra $8,000 buy? Do more New York students read at grade level than L.A. students? Are their test scores higher? Do a greater percentage graduate from high school?

Lopez assumes more spending leads to better outcomes without citing any evidence to support that assumption. Many taxpayers are going to need more than a mere assumption before they decide to increase their taxes for the LAUSD.

Gerry Swider, Sherman Oaks

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