Last week's well-attended PTA meeting at Palm Crest Elementary brought the plight of school funding to the forefront in our community. For too long, too many of us have convinced ourselves that either the situation was not as bad as we feared or that some thing would happen to preserve the status quo.
But, as we now know all too well, such is not the case. This year, kindergarten aides have been eliminated and class sizes in K-3 have risen. Shrinking revenue sources and declining enrollment simply do not provide sufficient funding to maintain smaller classes. So, now that the alarm has been sounded loud and clear, what do we do?
As parents, one of the most appreciated contributions we can make is the gift of our time. There is not a K-3 teacher in our district who would not welcome any and all parent assistance in her classroom. Usually, little or no training is required. Please speak with your children's teachers as to how you can lend tactical support.
The other part of the solution, of course, is money. The La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation is prepared to partner with the growing grass-roots movement in our community to raise incremental funds to restore class size reduction to last year's levels.
We agree with the assertion that there is tremendous untapped potential within our community for our schools. We believe that we can maintain the integrity of our current enrichment programs and reduce class sizes. Your financial support has never been more critical.
We welcome your ideas and feedback on how we can best achieve these shared goals.
Editor's note: The writer is president of the La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation.
Sign up CVHS kids for drug-testing program
In April 2009 Crescenta Valley High School implemented a voluntary drug testing program. I would like to encourage every CVHS family to participate in this program. Drug use and abuse is in every community and our small corner of the world is no exception. Some parents may believe their kids are not participating or a little experimentation is normal. But when is that line crossed and results in a tragic event? In fact, over the past several years our community has experienced some very horrific events from the death of local teenagers, to heroin and meth use and everything in between. The drug testing program is another tool to help families and the community combat this ever growing problem.
Peer pressure is a huge influence and temptation is all around. Your teen may not be participating but associates and friends may be. What may start as an occasional beer or smoking a joint at a party can easily become a chronic problem or lead to stronger drugs. We need to give our teens another option to say no. If your teen feels you don't trust them, let them know this is a safety issue and you feel it is important to support the school. This is a confidential program that CVHS facilitates only. The outsourced company provides the testing and communicates directly with the families only. The more families that sign up, the more accepting teens will be and not feel singled out. There is safety in numbers (for teens as well as parents).
Drug awareness and prevention is a shared responsibility between all aspects of the community. CVHS recognized there was an emerging problem in our area and looked for an innovative way to make a difference. In light of budget and program cuts facing cities and school districts everywhere, GUSD showed its concern and commitment to the area by offering this service. It is a gift to the parents and incumbent among us all to show the same level of importance and support this program.
Right now 19% of families have signed up. To the 81% of families that did not return a form or chose not to participate, please reconsider. It is not too late to participate. Call CVHS and ask for another enrollment form. If you and/or your teen are hesitant to participate, be honest about why and discuss your concerns with a trusted family friend, another parent, church leader, school official or law enforcement and see if another perspective can alleviate any concerns. The problems facing our area are real and this is an important issue that affects all of us in the community directly or indirectly.
Democrats from the president down reject the patriotic voices of Tea Party activists—at their own peril. Incredibly, 70% of Americans support the key issues that Tea Party folks advocate: smaller, less-intrusive government, dramatically reduced spending and a rational approach to dealing with America's enemies.
Given the Democrat party's proclivity for governing against the will of we the people, it is predictable. They never learned that extremism in defense of bad political ends is something we left to Europeans 234 years ago.
We are witnessing a major historical event as the Nov. 2 mid-term election nears. While California appears to be stuck in the "We can only elect moderate Republicans" syndrome, the rest of America has decided to pursue a political renaissance spearheaded by the Tea Party movement.
Several sitting U.S. senators, for example, have been defeated in Republican primaries, and will likely be replaced by the strong constitutional conservatives who vanquished them.
There's something in the air that I recognize from my college days in the 1960s. The ascendance of the conservative movement shifted into high gear with the emergence of Barry Goldwater. I recently reread Goldwater's book, "Conscience of a Conservative." I found that his three key issues were: government is too big and constantly infringes on state's rights, government spending is much too high, and the U.S. has a no-win policy with our enemies. Sound familiar?
While Goldwater lost the 1964 election in a landslide, the generation of young patriots he inspired persisted. In 1980 we elected President Ronald Reagan who validated the wisdom of keeping taxes low and brought down the Soviet Union. In 1994, Republicans gained control of the House and Senate and balanced the budget. In 2000, we elected a Republican president who had a Republican House and Senate.
Sadly, rejecting their conservative roots, these Republicans-in-Name-Only frittered it all away. Their failure helped elect the worst president in America's history, which has energized a new generation of patriots. Thanks to the Tea Party movement, his regime will suffer a huge setback on Nov. 2. Americans just might proclaim that "In your heart, you know they're right!"
David C. Wilcox
Compromise necessary on tax situation
I'm puzzled at the current furor, particularly from the right, over our being asked to pay taxes like we used to. What happened to taking back the country? President Obama is proposing what seems to be a reasonable compromise to our tax situation: Let the Bush tax cuts expire for the wealthiest 2% to 3% of Americans (making more than $250K, as a couple, per year) who harbor 24% of the country's wealth, but keep them in place for the huge majority of Americans.
There are several objections to that compromise that make no sense to me.
1. Extending the cuts for the wealthy will stimulate the economy. They haven't stimulated it for the past 10 years, so why will they now? When you put more money into the hands of the wealthy, less spending occurs than when you put it into the hands of the middle class who have immediate material needs, so it makes sense to keep the cuts for the middle class, but to tax the well off at a slightly higher rate.
2. It is irresponsible to return taxes to an earlier level during a recession (a level that helped the country be financially solvent, incidentally). It seems to me it was far more irresponsible to cut taxes from their already historically low level in the midst of two wars (which have now added more than $1 trillion to our deficit). Tax rates were far higher under Mr. Reagan, the right's hero, so what's all the screaming about?
3. Letting the cuts expire will ruin small business. Excuse me? Anyone want to guess what percentage of small business owners bring in more than $250K per year? Less than 2%.
4. We need to keep cutting our budget, not bring in revenue, to limit the deficit. Again, excuse me? Anyone knows that there are two things that must be done to balance the books, increase revenue and decrease spending. Over the past several years, massive numbers of life-affecting programs have been cut to the bone at the behest of the Republicans, impacting the most needy among us. Yet there has been no increase in revenue. President Obama has continued making cuts to the budget, scaling back the size of government that had ballooned on the Republican watch. And President Clinton had left us $236 billion surplus. But the year of Mr. Bush's tax cuts, we ran a deficit for the first time since 1993.
So I'm at a loss. If one makes just over that $250K mark, I can understand some extreme frustration. But the line has to be drawn somewhere and 98% of the country has fewer resources than that. We've all had a good ride, but instead of being happy that we've enjoyed a break, we are now complaining like children.
There's a local resource for unemployed
Nation-wide the unemployment rate is 9.5%. State-wide it is much higher at around 12.3%. And the unemployment rate in some areas of Southern California has climbed as high as 14.5%. An unemployed population puts a burden on our governments (national and state), on cities, and most of all, on the unemployed individuals and their families. A recent study titled "The Anguish of Unemployment," conducted through Rutgers University and based on surveys of 1,200 people who are currently unemployed, finds that, "The vast majority of respondents said that they experienced anxiety, helplessness, depression, stress and sleeping problems after losing their jobs." Finding a job returns dignity and purpose to a person's life, and provides the government (that's you and me — the taxpayers) relief from paying that person's unemployment insurance.
Many of you may not be aware of an organization in our region that has become more important than ever. Women at Work serves both women and men (in spite of its name) who are facing the daunting task of finding employment. The organization's "official" mission is to help women — with training, counseling and access to job listings — as they prepare to enter or re-enter the workforce. There is no practice of gender discrimination at Women at Work, however, and men are increasingly accessing the life-line offered by the organization, making it a challenge for the staff, job counselors and trainers to keep up. Already as of July of this year, 3800 clients have been served: the same number as were served in all of 2009. Help is available to anyone for a modest $2 per visit.
Women at Work is the only non-governmental, trilingual (English/Spanish/Mandarin) career and job resource center serving Los Angeles County. I encourage you to let others know about this amazing resource so that they can pass on the information to those of their acquaintances who need such assistance. The website is http://www.womenatwork.org and the phone number is (626) 796-6870. Also it is crucial for you to know that, like so many non-profit organizations, individual support is a large part of what keeps Women at Work afloat. Financial assistance from individuals who have the ability to help is crucial and is always welcomed with open arms!
The unemployment statistics are high, but remember that for a jobless person, the unemployment rate is 100%. Women at Work uses its resources to help people get off the "government dole" and regain their dignity and purpose.