Will the State Legislature Abandon California’s Children?

Whatever happened to the ability to compromise for the sake of the whole? We are drowning in a sea of debt and it will get worse without a solution soon, but not one Republican wants to throw out a life preserver to the children and schools of California, which account for 54 percent of the state’s budget. Not one!

Rather, the Republicans seem content on a doomsday scenario. If there is no continuing/new revenue and it must be a “cuts-only” budget students will be in school only seven months and on vacation for five months. How sad for our children. How selfish can we be?

Allowing the electorate to vote in June on tax extensions would have been the prudent thing to do, especially after billions of dollars of cuts have been agreed to.  With semi-modest cuts and a successful tax extension vote we would have been able to tread water for another several years—perhaps the best we can do at this time of economic peril. Now the worst choices are upon us and the hourglass is empty.

The California dream of the 1950s and ‘60s was spawned in large measure by a K-12 public school system that was well funded and a university system second to none. Our parents’ generation worked tirelessly to build a vibrant middle class and the future was brighter for my generation than my parents’. Today our state has careened off this track. We appear to be headed for the worst train wreck imaginable.

I am sickened by the lack of urgency in the media about California’s budget negotiations or lack thereof. Gov. Jerry Brown “assumed” that he was bargaining in good faith with the Republicans for the last several weeks. The collective effort reached a fever pitch a few days ago, but ended up without the voters being able to determine California’s future in June. This impasse hurts our children and the least advantaged among us. Collectively and as the elders of this large village we should care deeply.

Do we care? Is self-interest the new norm? Will the ugly greed of the 21st century be our tipping point to a dark and dreary future? I have voted in every election special, primary, general since I have been 21. I wanted to vote at 18 but was forbidden by law. We have a Democratic Governor and have large Democratic majorities in both state houses, yet the tyranny of a few on the other side of the aisle are creating a future none of them will desire. Do they care? Compromise was a good word in my lexicon during my work life. Why is it not today?

Last week the governor said: “Each and every Republican legislator I’ve spoken to believes that voters should not have the right to vote unless I agree to an ever-changing list of collateral demands. Let me be clear: I support pension reform, regulatory reform and a spending cap, and offered specific and detailed proposals for each of these during our discussions. While we made significant progress on these reform issues, the Republicans continued to insist on including demands that would materially undermine any semblance of a balanced budget…”

We are down to the wire, or have just passed it. It takes by statute 88 days from the legislative vote to place an initiative on ballot.  That now puts us to late June to extend the current taxes for five additional years. If we wait until after June 30 to place an initiative/referendum on the ballot we must call the taxes an increase not an extension.

The polling indicates a ballot statement that talks about extending current taxes will be easier to pass than one that proposes tax increases. In my adult lifetime we have not been down this road before. On SJI many respondents to my posts continue to deride the idea of funding K-16 education as we once did. They tell me sarcastically it is not about the money: It’s about unions, pensions, county offices of education, waste, salaries etc. etc.

For more than two years I have been urging the political leaders of this state do the right thing for our children. I agree with the recent proposal by the California Federation of Teachers to tax the top 1 percent of Californians who make $500,000 or more per year a surcharge of 1 percent or more. This targeted 1 percent tax increase will bring in $2-3 billion dollars per year to help fund education.

In a speech Michael Moore gave in Wisconsin last month titled “America Is Not Broke,” he said: “Contrary to what those in power would like you to believe so that you’ll give up your pension, cut your wages, and settle for the life your great-grandparents had, America is not broke. Not by a long shot. The country is awash in wealth and cash. It’s just that it’s not in our hands. It has been transferred, in the greatest heist in history, from the workers and consumers to the banks and the portfolios of the uber-rich.

Today just 400 Americans have more wealth than half of all Americans combined.

Let me say that again. 400 obscenely rich people, most of whom benefited in some way from the multi-trillion dollar taxpayer ‘bailout’ of 2008, now have more loot, stock, and property than the assets of 155 million Americans combined…”

The time for compromise has ended. It is devastating that that our trusted elected officials decided to play politics with our future. Children deserve the adults in their lives to look after their interests.

Maureen Riley-Behlen of San Jose wrote a letter to the editor of the Mercury News that was published last Friday. She says she has been a Republican her entire adult life. She wrote, “I cannot rationalize for one second cutting any more funding from education. These blithering idiots in Sacramento do not get it…if I can get off my high horse, the idiots in Sacramento can do the same.”

Ms. Riley-Behlen, our children are counting on us to come down from the horse and solve the school funding problem now. Or is it already too late?

Joseph Di Salvo is a member of the Santa Clara County Office of Education’s Board of Trustees. He is a San Jose native. His columns reflect his personal opinion.


  1. What you liberals forget is that We The People already voted on the tax increases, in spring of 2009. The result was a strong thumbs down.

    Why do liberals insist on continually re-voting the same old thing hoping that the electorate will change their minds. Didn’t a famous president once say “elections have consequences?”

    • “Why do liberals insist on continually re-voting the same old thing hoping that the electorate will change their minds.”  For starters, this wouldn’t be a “tax increase,” it would be an extension of existing taxes.  Second, are you really in favor HJ of not allowing the citizens of this state the right to vote?  Things have changed since 09 anyway, so let’s not assume how the electorate felt then is the same way they feel now.  Besides, how would we know how the electorate feels…IF THEY AREN’T PROVIDED WITH THE CHANCE TO @#$%* VOTE?!  I served in this country’s military for 4 years, and I’ll call out anyone who would suggest denying the citizens of this country/state the right to vote!

      • Why don’t we get to vote on…

        Funding the Mexican Heritage Plaza?
        Golf courses?
        Hayes Mansion?
        Having a cultural affairs department?
        Police/fire/teacher/all union compensation?
        Appropriate benefits?
        401(k)‘s vs. pensions for those who “serve” us?
        School vouchers?
        The curriculum for public schools?
        Opening up jobs to all residents, not just those that pay bribes to unions?
        Illegal immigration issues?
        Redevelopment agency projects?
        The redev agency all together?
        Whether or not the city should be allowed to go into debt?

        • Such a foolish question. I’d say you must be Joe Below-Average to pose such a silly scenario. You vote for these projects and more every time you participate in an election (I assume you vote).If you don’t like how the money is spent vote for new Councilmembers, etc.

          You can’t really be serious about wanting to vote for every expenditure made by the city. If you are, then you should take some time to learn how government (or any organization) operates.

      • The citizens were allowed a vote in 2009 and they said “no.” Why do we have to vote on the same damn thing every two years, except when it comes to lowering taxes or reducing burdensome regulation? Somehow, those votes never come up. Why can’t politicians live with the 2009 vote?

  2. The funding of public schools is problematic.  They took all the local property taxes to Sacramento to pool and redivide to get rid of the bias of rich districts getting more money.  Then Sacramento started to borrow some of it, so they passed a state constitutional amendment requiring K-14 (included community colleges) to get a fixed percentage of the state budget).  Like other public sectors, human capital costs have soared due in part to unfunded pension liabilities.  Quality seems to be about the same, with rich districts still out performing most poor ones (parental involvement?).  Charter schools and other exceptions offer hope.

    In terms of the state budget, there was a chance to get some deals on the table (pension reform) but that was non-negotiable, and so Gov Brown will have to go with an initiative for taxes.  In terms of the future, we are in trouble, as basic education at public school will suffer, but if there is no money, what can you do?  We cannot deficit spend, and even with a tax proposal on the ballot, passage is still iffy.  Hard cuts and a need for greater community and parental involvement are next up.

    BTW – State initiatives are not that hard to qualify, have you seen some of the ridiculous stuff they’ve put on the ballot?  The education groups and labor groups could qualify a ballot initiative in a week by just getting all there members to sign.  Not a big deal…but political theater is what California seems to specialize in and the blame game requires anyone but me to be responsible for all the problems.

    • “…to get rid of the bias of rich districts getting more money”

      What about basic aid districts such as Palo Alto?  When I compare the spending per pupil in Palo Alto versus districts such as Gilroy, Palo Alto spends thousands of dollars more per student.

  3. “Whatever happened to the ability to compromise for the sake of the whole? We are drowning in a sea of debt and it will get worse without a solution soon, but not one Democrat or Union boss wants to throw out a life preserver to the children and schools of California, which account for 54 percent of the state’s budget. Not one!

    Rather, the Democrats and union bosses seem content on a doomsday scenario. If there is no reduction in PEU pension costs students will be in school only seven months and on vacation for five months. How sad for our children. How selfish can Democrats and union bosses be?”

    Hi Joe,
    Fixed it for you.
    Your’s truly,

  4. The credibility of any article which uses a quote from Michael Moore as support for an idea is (or ought to be) immediately suspect. While I certainly don’t believe that all capitalist endeavours are blameless for the state of the economy, I certainly don’t believe that anything resembling socialism is an answer. Mr. DiSalvo, more often than not, is a proponent of ideas or policies which, when disected, are socialist in nature.

    The idea that any person or group of people is or are entitled to the earnings of any other person is socialist, regardless of the means of distribution. Similarly, the notion that any person is entitled to a good or service which they cannot afford is also socialist. Most people don’t expect to walk into a grocery store, consumer electronics store or other commercial endeavor and expect that they will be able to walk out with a ‘purchase’ made at someone elses expense. And yet, every day, all across the nation, this is exactly what goes on by way of welfare, medicare and other ‘social programs’. So, too, is public education an accomplice.

    That I have absolutely no say over the portion of my tax dollars that goes towards public education is preposterous. I realize it may be a relatively small portion in terms of absolute direct dollar value, but when you stop to consider that the cost of my daughter’s education is built into every purchase I make at ever store and into every tax I pay, whether it be sales, income, business or property, you begin to realize that I am on the hook for every dollar of my daughter’s education but have very limited say in how those dollars are spent.

    I believe that if public education truly had to compete with private for tax dollars by way of a school voucher system, huge improvements to the quality of public education would be inevitable. Either that, or the virtual monopoly on education that public institutions have over private would begin to diminish as other better schools were established or grew in response to market demand. Certainly, schools would become far more receptive to parent input – particularly with respect to curriculum choices.

    No matter how passionate Mr. DiSalvo may be about education, his answers and ideas are far from novel. They are simply increasingly intrusive or extrememe iterations of increased taxation or ‘progressive reform’. Or, put another way, “The only reason it isn’t working is because we haven’t gone far enough or taxed people enough.” This is the essence of a socialist agenda, no matter how you pretty up the language. And no matter how you pretty up the language, at its heart is the supremely arrogant assumption of power and smug belief that, for whatever reason, he, like other liberals of influence, knows better than you how your money, the fruits of your labor should be spent, knows better than you how your children should be educated, knows better, when it comes right down to it, how your life should be run.

  5. “yet the tyranny of a few on the other side of the aisle”

    This democracy stuff blows.  If only we had a benevolent dictator! 

    “I agree with the recent proposal by the California Federation of Teachers to tax the top 1 percent of Californians who make $500,000 or more per year a surcharge of 1 percent or more.”

    That’s mighty generous of the Teachers union to increase taxes on the public.  But hey if the ballot thingy doesn’t work – why not allow the progressive Cali citizenry to donate money to the state to save the teachers union… er.. children.

    “In a speech Michael Moore gave…”

    The same wealthy Michael Moore that tax dollars from a poor state like Michigan?

    “While we don’t blame Mr. Moore … it’s striking that a movie focused on the inequities of granting taxpayer dollars to private enterprise would apply for and receive taxpayer-funded incentives.”

    But I digress.

    “The country is awash in wealth and cash. It’s just that it’s not in our hands.”

    Careful Joe.  Your mask is slipping.

    “The time for compromise has ended.”

    What exactly are you suggesting Joe?

  6. Novice,

    The basic facts as reported by news sources seem to dispute your assessment. Compromise not blame must be the coin of the realm. Situation, Novice, still very much broken. I thought I grew up in a country where the majority ruled? The rich get richer and the children lose. Democrats and Republicans should hang their heads in shame. Our California Dream has officially ended. All of us are to blame, but what we need right this instant is solutions, not a tyrannical minority who see compromise as a 4-letter word.

    • “First note that the average annual salary in 2010 for active working educators enrolled in the system was $64,156. The next table states that the average retirement benefit paid out in 2010 was $4,256 per month. That’s $51,072 annually. In other words, the average retired teacher in California made more than the average working teacher in 28 states, according to the salary rankings published by NEA.”


      C’mon Joe, level with us.  This tax increase is all about keeping the union’s compensation ponzi scheme rolling isn’t it?

      The teachers union could earn a lot of respect from a skeptical public by volunteering to collect it’s union dues directly from the teachers. 

      Think of the cost savings to the state that could then be passed along to help the children!

      We’re all in this together right?

  7. One other question for Mr. DiSalvo: You clearly object to the concentration of wealth that exists in the US, but can you identify what you or I have ever done to earn a portion of that wealth? I have an answer: nothing. Neither you nor I heads a Fortune 500 company. We are not entrepreneurs. We do nothing so significant or innovative that we can justify taking or enjoying the rewards of someone else’s hard work or investment. If you, sir, had the innovative spirit, business acumen, or leadership ability that someone such as Larry Ellison, Bill Gates or anyone of the other millionaires or billionaires has, you would probably be one yourself. That you are not suggests that you – like Michael Moore – believe that, in contrast to what the founders and framers of the constitution beleived, property rights are not a part of natural law and that no one is entitled to more of the fruits of their labor than that amount to which the majority asserts they are entitled.

    Your arguments do not stand the tests of logic or trials of history. I am perpetually perturbed that you are in a position of influence – however indirectly – over my duaghter’s education.

    • DavidSanchez,

      I embrace our democratic system, always have. I have always participated in our system by working for and with candidates based on their beliefs and values. I have voted in every single election since I was 21.

      The Governor duly elected by the people worked tireless to try to avoid the situation we are in through compromise/give and take on solutions he thought would bring the two sides together for the PEOPLE to vote. Read his quote in my post.

      Why would you not want the people to vote? To keep us from exercising our democratic process is morally bankrupt to me.

      The solutions to take more from the middle class while the uber-rich get richer is not the America I grew up in. The America I grew up in cared deeply about the education of children.

      Perhaps if Michael Moore is suspect as a source how about Robert Reich who served in the Clinton administration as an economic advisor?  Read “Why We Must Raise Taxes On The Rich, ASAP, by Robert Reich at commondreams.org/view/2011/04/04.

      I care deeply about the world your daughter will inherit and I know you do, too. The majority of CA sees it like me, not you. Private pollster Ben Tulchin shows 78% of voters strongly or somewhat support a tax hike on the top 1% of the richest in CA.

      You are one of the minority keeping us from realizing the dreams we once had. I think your energies are misplaced by attacking me. Let’s get off the “high” horse and agree on reasonable solutions to the quagmire we are in, before it is too late.

      By-the-way, as an elected official I can be unseated with a majority or plurality vote in 2012.  I did not run to keep my trustee seat for two or more terms, I ran to make a small contribution to the profession I worked in for 33 years as a teacher and principal. I see that profession being systematically dismantled and I do not like it one bit. There is nothing more important than the quality education of our children.

      God Bless America

      • > Why would you not want the people to vote? To keep us from exercising our democratic process is morally bankrupt to me.

        Because, Joe, we are NOT a democracy.


        “Democracy” is two foxes and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner.

        The Founding Fathers understood this acutely.  That’s why Benjamin Franklin gaves us: “a Republic, sir, if you can keep it.”

      • Mr. DiSalvo, once again, I find your replies deficient for various reasons. I am going to address your points in an enumerated manner for the sake of clarity:

        1. That you have voted does not negate my assertion that you apparently espouse certain policies or processes which are of a socialist nature. Nor are socialism and democracy entirely mutually exclusive. France is notable for being a democracy with policies and laws derived from socialism. Similarly, Venezuala voted into office a devout socialist. Look at how well that’s working out in both nations. France is an economic disaster in the making (if it isn’t made already) and Venezuela is a human rights disaster already. In an earlier post, you stated that you thought you lived in a country where the majority ruled. That statement coupled with your first sentence in reply to my post suggests that you believe that the will of the majority of the people sets the standard for that which is moral or ethical. This is not a belief to which the framers of the Constitution would have subscribed. In fact, what they attempted to construct was a system of governance which acknowledged an absolute standard of morality which formed the framework of a republic – if we can keep it, as Benjamin Franklin stated (http://www.bartleby.com/73/1593.html). Indeed the Constitution is constructed as an acknowledgement of ‘natural law’ which exists apart from and is greater than all other law and it is within this context and against these standards that all other laws must be measured – including property rights.

        2. Regardless of how tirelessly the Governor may have worked to achieve compromise, any agreements made which run contrary to the constitution and to the rule of natural law are, by nature, flawed. Better, more educated, and far more deeply philosophical men than you or I have concluded this and it is on these principles that our nation was founded.

        3. While I agree with you that discouraging people from voting is morally bankrupt, I have re-read my posts and find nothing in them to suggest that I would ever try to discourage them from doing so. Conversely, I absolutely believe that it is possible to vote into law legislation which is immoral, unethical or unconstitutional. This is why our government is designed as it is: to protect against such legislation. I absolutely believe that people should vote. However, I also believe that they should understand the nature and meaning and intent of the constitution and vote in a way that is consistent with constitutional principles.

        4. I have never suggested (and never will suggest) that any solution which takes more from the middle class is a viable, principled solution. Rather, I believe in an absolutely ironclad flat tax. One rate for individuals and another (somewhat higher rate) for businesses. Eliminate all the subsidies, the loopholes and the credits. Then, eliminate most of the government infrastructure that has risen up in support of all this garbage.

        5. The economic adviser for President Clinton is not going to carry much credibility for me either. I’m not sure, but is this the same guy who was telling Clinton that it’d be ok to change the rules for residential lending? I’m not sure. Regardless, it was on Clinton’s watch and (as I understand it) at his behest that the rules were changed which led to the housing market collapse. Arguably, these rule changes are among the root causes of the economic problems we face today. My question to you is this, though: if it is not now, then at what point and at what tax rate does the taxation of the rich become socialism or income redistribution.

        6.7. I understand that my beliefs place me in the minority among Californians. However that does not make the majority right. It just makes them the majority. Inherent in this is the difference between a democracy and a repulic (the US was designed to be a republic). See http://www.albatrus.org/english/goverment/govenrment/democracy versus repubblic.htm “A democracy is majority rule and is destructive of liberty because there is no law to prevent the majority from trampling on individual rights. Whatever the majority says goes! A lynch mob is an example of pure democracy in action. There is only one dissenting vote, and that is cast by the person at the end of the rope.”  Or, perhaps this quote, commonly attributed to Alexander Tytler, will conjure images which look familiar in context of modern America, “A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.”

        Like I said: the standard against which I measure the worth and morality of any legislation is the Constitution of the United States. I care about my daughter living in a nation which is a Republic founded on Constitutional principles.

        Finally, being a participant in a minority does not make me wrong. At the risk of sounding incredibly arrogant, it might just mean that the majority is wrong. At one point, certain majorities favored slavery. Shear numbers didn’t make them right. Nor are you correct in asserting that I am attacking you. While I am addressing you, specifically, as one who formulates and implements education policy, I am attacking your positions and assertions. I don’t doubt your desire to make a positive contribution to education, however; I have serious misgivings about the means you choose to do so.

        • Dear DavidSanchez, the Wise (not the other DavidSanchez, the Evil):

          > Or, perhaps this quote, commonly attributed to Alexander Tytler, will conjure images which look familiar in context of modern America, . . . .

          The Tytler quote is wonderful, and expresses tremendous wisdom.  Just be aware that no one really seems to know who Alexander Tytler was, if he really authored the quote, or if he even ever existed.

          Every now and then, a snarky moonbat will accuse you of “making things up” because there was no Alexander Tytler.

          Suffice it to say that SOMEONE origniated the quote, and it’s a valuable sentiment that intelligent people understand.

          It MAY have been coined by Alexander Tytler, or it may have been originated by someone else with the same name, or maybe a different name.

        • I was aware that the attribution of the quote is iffy at best. However, it is to Alexander Tytler that the quote is most commonly attributed. No matter the source, it is a valuable, prudent piece of wisdom for which I would not dream of taking credit. I believe it is better to acknowledge the common attribution than to appear to be taking credit for a piece of wisdom which is not my own.

          Regardless, thank you for your comment.

      • “78% of voters strongly or somewhat support a tax hike on the top 1% of the richest in CA.”

        Tell me Joe, why don’t 99% of the people support taking more money from the remaining 1%?

        Hint: The answer has a lot to do with why our nation was founded and why it has flourished.  It has to do with majorities, democracies, republics and freedom.  Think hard Joe.  Is the 78% majority right or wrong?

  8. I look forward to voting against Mr. DiSalvo at the next opportunity.  One thing can save the education of our children:  the breaking of the public school system monopoly.  Once they have to compete on equal terms with private schools, then real reform will start happening.  Everything else is just balderdash.

    —Member of the bottom 50%

  9. Gov. Jerry Brown was elected by the people . There is no mistake . Yes he is trying . The other fact is guess who else tried and tried . Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger .There ‘games’ being played out on both sides as before . When little items that subject to negotiation are brought on the table , and that have NO PLACE as part of the budget discussion become part of the stumbling block towards any ratification towards a deal.

    As far as Micheal Moore . His argument is valid . America is a rich nation . How then is America so called broke and still sends billions overseas ? , and the banks that were ‘bailed’ out by Bush and Obama are thriving in more wealth than ever before . Look at the DOW it’s over 12,000 for the first time in years . We are now engaged in three wars , yes the tax payers ‘fork’ up for the wars . Yet the domestic spending is cut .

    Then who will speak for the ‘children’ in the end ?

  10. Mr. DiSalvo, once we bring the flag pledge an prayer mixed with learing how to make proper decisions I will vote for school funding.  I’m tired of promoting failure in our society through the school system.  MONEY IS NOT THE ANSWER.

    • Thanks ‘America’ for this post. It reminded me of something which I’d like to share with Mr. DiSalvo, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the REPUBLIC for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

      Our nation was DESIGNED to be a republic, structured in such a way that the national integrity is protected from the majority when it has become capricious and self-serving. When you speak of compromise, you clearly mean agreements made without regard for the nature of a republic or their compliance with the spirit and intent of the Constitution.

      I have no problem with compromise, so long as it is compliant with the Constitution and maintains the integrity of our Republic.

      • Republic only works when majority rules.  We have an elected republic in the state, but we are one of only 3 states that requires a 2/3 vote of our elected leaders to raise revenue (and until this year pass a budget).  That leads to stalemate every time.  Thus the need to bring any revenue solution to the voters. 

        If we truly had a democratic republic in California, the majority would rule and if the voters didn’t like it, they’d change the majority. 

        In the meantime, everything Joe D said is true.  The minority is holding the majority hostage by demanding non-budget concessions simply to allow the voters to weigh in on a solution to the budget problem.  The proposed solution is favored by the majority of voters, the majority of legislators, and the overwhelmingly elected Governor.  But our crazy rules won’t allow it to be implemented.

        • Republic,

          I have a correction for you: a constitutional republic only works when the will of the majority operates within the framework of the Constitution. As I have pointed out in an earlier post, at one point slavery was favored by certain majorities, as was the notion that ‘negroes’ didn’t count quite as much when it came to voting. At one point, women couldn’t vote. Obviously, those conditions are in opposition to what the Founders and Framers articulated as the rule of Natural Law and are therefore unconstitutional. Similarly, the State of California was intended to function as a Republic. It says so right on the state flag.

          The condition you and Mr. DiSalvo describe is akin to two wolves and a sheep locked in a room and voting on what’s for dinner. Another simile that’s apt is putting 5 men and 3 women in a room and the men voting that it’s perfectly legal to rape the women, with the outcome being entirely predictable. But, That’s democracy in action and I am thankful that we do not live in a democracy, but a republic. A republic recognizes an external and absolute moral authority (what the Framers referred to as Natural Law) as the context within which all policy and legislation must perform and against which such policy and legislation must be measured.

        • Wow, that’s quite an analogy.  Absolutely ludicrous.  If you are equating taxation and spending decisions to slavery and rape, I think we are too far apart to agree. 

          In reality, the judicial system is there to provide a check on the majority rule in a democratic republic.  The other check is that the voters get to weigh in every two years and change course if they don’t like the decisions the majority makes.

          The requirement to have a 2/3 vote is an impediment to the functioning of the system.  You want a system that requires a supermajority of the legislature, but then thinks it is wrong to ask the voters to weigh in when that 2/3 can’t be reached. 

          If simple majority results in the oppression of the minority by the majority, then how are they functioning in the other 47 states?

        • Republic, your assertion that my simile is ludicrous demonstrates your ignorance of the circumstances under which our nation was founded and the principles which underpin the foundations of our republic. Central to the core principles of our nation’s founding are that our lives, our liberty, our pursuit (though not achievement) of happiness, our property rights (the ownership of income and product of our endeavors), our right to self-defense, freedom of religion, assembly, press (or media, in the 21st century), etc. are all rights afforded us by natural law, which exists apart from and greater than the legislation of man.  These principles and freedoms are also central to how we discharge our rights and responsibilities as we enjoy our freedoms. These are principles which are incompatible with any form of socialism, and socialism, regardless of the language, is precisely what Mr. DiSalvo describes when he states that the wealthy, by paying an additional 1% of their income to the state are doing their fair share. All he is saying, at the end of the day, is ‘from each according to his ability, to each according to his need’. However, these are not new notions and I have expressed them elsewhere. Perhaps if I illustrated mathematically the fallacy of his assertions, it might help?

          The core mandate of state government is to provide the following services: Administration, elected and otherwise (ADM); Infrastructure (INF), Public Safety (PS), and Education (EDU). The costs for the provision of these services is (or ought to be) fairly fixed from one year to the next. Population tends to grow gradually and predictably as does inflation, so the costs of providing these services should increase fairly predictably and scale in relation to population growth as well. Further, individuals (IND)will take advantage of or require these services at rates which are not equal to the needs of businesses (BUS). For instance, businesses will require somewhat different infrastructure support than individuals. Individuals consume far more in terms of public safety services than do businesses. And, arguably, businesses and individuals are near equal beneficiaries of an educated work force. Thus, the budget requirements for core services might be described in this way:
          IND%/ADM$ + BUS%/ADM = 100%/ADM$,
          IND%/INF$ + BUS%/INF$ = 100%/INF$,
          IND%/PS$ + BUS%/PS$ = 100%/PS$
          IND%/EDU$ + BUS%/EDU$ = 100%/EDU$

          ADM + INF + PS + EDU = 100% Core service budget.

          In an absolutely fair society with an absolutely fair system of taxation, these costs would be broken down per capita and each person (or perhaps household) and business would be taxed a fixed dollar amount which might vary a few percentage points from year to year, with the total amount accounting for the total budget for these services.

          Obviously, the households with the lowest income would be unlikely to be able to pay for their fair share and the wealthiest would be able to pay for their fair share with ease – particularly if there were an offset for public safety since the lower income brackets, by far, are the most conspicuous consumers of public safety services.

          So, the next most fair solution is to arrive at a fixed percentage tax solution which provides for 100% of costs of providing these services. Under this set of circumstances, the lowest income brackets would, inevitably, pay a portion of their obligation, and the more well-to-do would, inevitably wind up paying for their share as well as making up the difference for their less affluent peers. Hell, under these circumstances, I could see setting up the percentage in such a way that a modest rainy-day fund is set up as well as some income assistance for the newly unemployed.

          What we have instead is a deeply Orwellian system with a graduated tax in which those in the lower income brackets pay very little of their obligations and the more affluent paying for, well, virtually everything their less affluent peers can’t or won’t: welfare? check. unemployment? check. health care? check. dental care? check. child care? check. food stamps? check. mental health care? check. education? check.

          Now, Mr. DiSalvo (among others) wants the wealthy to “pay their fair share”? Please. The wealthy have been paying far more than their fair share for decades and any attempt to suggest otherwise is an insult to the intellect of any reasonable and fair person. The mere ability to take upon themselves a greater portion of the ‘share’ does not confer a moral obligation to do so. Nor is it moral for the majority, by means of elected officials and legislation, to transfer that financial responsibility onto the shoulders of the wealthy – particularly in such a disproportionate manner. And it is precisely upon the fulfillment of moral obligations to society that a republic is founded – the moral obligations to uphold those natural laws and civil rights enumerated in the constitution.

  11. This mish-mash of tangential or idealistic responses, many calling for wholesale change, represents the same morass we find in Sacramento. It’s so easy to argue abstractly on a blog. Do any of you have children in local public schools or colleges?

    This IS a seminal time. Without action, class sizes will increase. Without a compromise, all higher education will be significantly impacted. How many qualified students will be affected at community colleges, CSU, and UC? How many more classes, enrichment activities, or sports will be cut from schools? These are not abstractions. These are scenarios affecting many people and families in our State and City. We will feel the results of huge education budget cuts immediately, and long term the State will slip further behind in supporting the number one long term contributor to economic growth – an educated work force. The opportunity gap between those who can afford private schools vs. those who are in the public system will grow even wider if the State cuts education funding to the degree we are reading about in the news media.

    Mr. DiSalvo is raising an important issue. He is passionate about his advocacy. The reality is that nothing can change overnight, we need to continue to support public education, and Mr. DiSalvo’s cry of outrage is wholly appropriate given the current deadlock in Sacramento.

    • Do what I did.  Worked three jobs to send my kids to private school.  This was during the days when money was being used to light cigars with dot com cash. Read the test scores from those days and compare them today.  I now pay more in taxes than my wife makes in a year.  I’m sick and tired of giving with no results.  It’s time to stop and make teachers & administration responsible for their actions.  Emplyoment based upon results.

  12. YYY, apparently, the action you advocate is that which Mr. DiSalvo advocates, which is more of the same: more spending and more ‘progressive education’.

    I absolutely believe in and subscribe to the value of creating an educated work force. However, as I have mentioned before, I have deep reservations about the manner in which Mr. DiSalvo and other like-minded persons seek to go about developing an educated work force. His solutions are very reminiscent, in their own way of the attitudes described in ‘Animal Farm’: the ‘throw more of someone else’s money’ at it approach.

    One of the answers proposed as a means of improving education is the introduction of school vouchers. This would create more of a free market state giving parents more choices as to where and how they wish for their children to be educated. The idea of a voucher system is this: the tax dollars which would ordinarily be transferred to a public school in order to cover the costs of educating a particular student would, instead, be transferred to whatever education institution the parent(s) of that student decided. While that amount might not entirely offset the cost of tuition at a private school, it would likely make the tuition sufficiently affordable that the vast majority of parents could afford to send their children there.

    In high-performing school districts, the parents might easily decide that it’s not worth the time or trouble to participate in the voucher process. Ultimately, an effectively free market state would exist, giving parents more options and choices and wherein a strong measure of the performance of any school would be the number of students in attendance.

    Now, I would like for you to explain to me ho this is a bad idea, how this idea requires any compromise whatsoever and how any advocate of children and their eduction can find this program objectionable. In fact, I would like for Mr. DiSalvo to explain what, if any, objections he has to this idea.

    • Hello,

      While you do make some sound arguments, let’s be practical and sound on all sides of the argument. When the minority effectively rule the majority through purse strings, it is, then, of course, not based on a majority adherent to the constitution; it is then based on a minority ruled by corporate domination and greed.
      Both Wall Street and Main street had a heavy hand to play in the outcome we now face. But, there were *reasons* why monopoly laws were created almost a century ago- it takes no strong conceptual understanding to see that when so much wealth is centered in a small amount of hands, we are heading in an unhealthy and less democratic, direction. I would suggest that again, while you make some strong points and advocate well, let us seek to quell a fear-based attitude on all sides. That is: the fear of the masses that the small majority of business owners will dominate (happening now) and the fear of the small majority that the masses will seek to undercut their hard-earned (and sometimes not so hard-earned wealth). Let us find a middle of compromise. Certainly, in any good relationship, compromise is, of course, essential. Thank you again for taking a minority and strong stance on your values and beliefs. I do applaud you for it.

  13. Policts, its always comes down to give and take between Republicans and Democrats. Why can’t they compromise on issues that are important, like education, its the future of this country. Thousands of students and teachers along with administrators are depending on decisions of the state government. People in the US tend to spend more than need and then when money is an issue we wonder where the money went….. Money needs to be spend carefully.

    • Jaime, I agree with you. Instead of worrying how the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, we should be focusing our attention to the youth of America. We should ensure that students have every opportunity available to make this world a better place. How can this happen if we don’t have the proper resources in the classroom?

      • people tend to focus on the comparison between the rich and poor schools instead of acting on what can improve. By shifting that focus, maybe things could actually improve to give all students equal opportunity

  14. YYY—

    I had children at my local public schools.  Then I noticed that the middle school my oldest was to enter was “troubled” with no feasible outlook of change by the school district, which was too busy placing parcel tax votes during every election.  So as a decidedly lower middle-class family, we took the plunge and sent the kids to a local private school.  It has reduced us to a paycheck-to-paycheck existence but is well worth the sacrifice.  We are only kicking ourselves for not having done this sooner.

  15. To quote a famous source…“No one has a “Right” to obtain anything or any other value- at other people’s expense. The NEEDS of one individual are NOT A MORAL CLAIM on the resources of another.”

    Funny, but that notion seems to get lost when everyone these days claims the moral high ground to stake a claim on someone elses earnings…

  16. The numbers you gave about the 400 Americans having more wealth than 155 million combined is shocking. It’s amazing how greedy Americans can be. Beyond that I recently read about a Superintendant in San Mateo County who on top of their $180,000 salary received a 10,000 stipend, $10,000 performance bonus (extra money because they did the job they were paid to do)$3,000 gas allowance, and a $600 cell phone allowance for what I believe was for the year. Throw in an additional $20,000 for training and professional development. I say tax the rich for some extra money. But in addition we need to look at these “extra costs” that take away from our school budgets before we just start doing away with teachers. You add up some of this “extra costs” and that could be an additional teacher’s salary for the year. Start making cuts like this for all positions in a given school district and maybe we can keep some of those teachers that will loose their jobs because we have to pay individuals a bonus for doing their job, give them gas money and a cell phone!

    • If what you are saying about the Superintendent in San Mateo is true than I am shocked!  That’s outrageous.  Taxing the rich or raising their taxes for extra money is a good idea to alleviate the education budget crisis.

      • That’s right. Keep drinking the liberal Kool-Aid. Tax the rich until no one but the select few of whom liberals approve remain wealthy.

        California, with some of the highest taxes in the nation, doesn’t need more taxes. It needs to get spending under control. It needs to get entitlements under control. It needs to get illegal immigration under control. If California were a model of fiscal responsibility, I would be on board with raising the taxes on the upper income brackets – but only if the law were structured with an irrevocable sunset clause.

        And this is precisely why I am against any new taxes. California is as addicted to ever increasing taxes as a junkie is to heroin, and what have we gotten for this addiction? The annual budget crisis. Entitlement spending that’s absolutely out of control. An addiction to the cheap labor that illegal immigrants provide which is every bit as stroing as the addiction to increased taxation. Califronia is a disaster and increased taxes are going to do nothing more than put a bandaid on a festering gangrenous wound.

        Let Sacramento develop some fiscal discipline. Let them rediscover the principles on which our nation was founded. Those are the solutions to our budget problems. They aren’t easy, but I’m sick of Californians taking the easy fix, because the easy fix is a saccharine lie.

        • I agree with you in this point. No one wants more taxes. As soon as taxes are implemented people stop liking them and then there are more complaints. I also agree with you in that we need to control spending. why the hell should a superintendent be given gas and phone allowance when he’s already being paid over 100K?!?! i’m sure he can afford his own freakin phone bill and gas! heck, if a poor college student like me can afford a car and a phone bill at less than who knows how little i make in a year, then i’m sure that the superintendent can afford his own expenses!

        • David I do agree with you on this. Taxing the rich will not fix anything. It would bring in more money, but will that money be spent on what California need? I don’t think so. We also have to think about how the rich provides job for us ordinary poor people. If the government implements the tax increase for the rich, these people will find a way to stick it to their employees. Either way, ordinary people will always pay the price.

    • Tony, after reading your post, I feel myself becoming very angry.  While on one hand, it is shocking how many benefits the San Mateo Superintendent has been showered with, at the same time, it doesn’t really surprise me.  When you think about it, it actually makes sense.  The people at the top (whether that means at the top of a school district or the top of a governmental body) always seem to have ridiculous salaries and are NEVER struggling financially- and we wonder why things don’t change? They are perfectly content, why would they ever change the way things are? I feel like society keeps talking about all the struggles teachers are faced with, but nothing ever seems to get done about it.  Well, the sad truth is, those with the power to make the changes are never in a financially uncomfortable situation- why would they do anything to make it different? What is this world coming to…

      • I agree with you that all of this is frustrating. It is frustrating to see that those in power and those with the highest held positions are the least affected by the downward spiral of the budget crisis/cuts. Schools, teachers, and most of all, students are dealt the hardest hand—over and over and over again. So many people are either turning a blind eye or lack the integrity to do what’s right for the majority of Americans that need this support.

    • I think that this is ridiculous but it doesn’t surprise me.  I can’t see how people can look at their stipends and salaries, and then look at our education system and be okay with it.  It’s a disservice to our future generation and our kids.

    • The facts about the Superintendant in San Mateo are SO frustrating and make me very angry.  I agree with your statement that, “if you add up some of this ‘extra costs’…that could be an additional teacher’s salary for the year.”  How selfish, ignorant, and unfair.  How can they say they care about the problems in education if they are accepting these stipends and bonuses?  Who needs a $600 dollar cell phone allowance anyway?  That’s ridiculous!

  17. I’m appalled at the current state of our government.  It no longer seems to be a governement “…by the people..for the people…” but rather for a few elite groups only.  The demands of the American public go largely unnoticed, unless it is an election year.  Democrats and Republicans remain locked in their jargon, with no positive changes for our society.  They should spend more of their time and our money focusing on issues that affect our daily lives.  Education is the front and center most important aspect for each American family as well as America’s future.  We should invest time in equalizing education for all social classes and races.  Our future as a country depends on it.  What will happen when groups of undereducaed students graduate from high school without the skills or creativity necessary to maintain the current jobs in America?

  18. Well, it looks like Mr. DiSalvo and ‘Republic’, among others, can’t hang with the conversation when you start using words like ‘The Framers’, ‘The Founders’, ‘constitutional republic’, etc.

    The reality is that progressivism and liberalism are in diametric opposition to the principles on which the US was founded.

    I am all for finding solutions to the problems he addresses, but I want them to be consistent with Constitutional principles. This doesn’t make me a part of a tyrannical minority. It makes me a Patriot.

  19. I completely believe that a compromise between parties is essential in changing the academic outcome of the country’s youth. If we all keep butting heads, nothing will ever get accomplished! I really feel that there is no ONE right answer, but somethings gotta give… I have seen my daughter’s classroom go from a size 20 to 33 in one year. This scares me because many children have a significant chance of falling through the cracks.

      • I think that Sarah is right on point…. there needs to be some sort of compromise.  Neither side of this argument is going to “give-in” completely.

    • Sarah, I totally agree with you where you say somethings gotta give. Things are so bad everywhere and with everything, someone’s gotta sacrifice something. This cycle is just going to keep going and going, and the students are going to be the victims through all of this, until something gets resolved. They are just pushing back the solution to this problem. It’s like you said there is no one answer, but something can be done, and it won’t come easily, but let’s not put it off anymore.

    • I also agree with you Sarah. The children are the ones who are being affected when they have done nothing to deserve it. Things need to start changing before it is too late or else students WILL fall through the cracks.

  20. I cannot believe that politicians continue to steal from children to fund the already wealthy old white men in power.  I do not understand how they can look at a playground, a park, a youth group, and not see that they are foreclosing on these children’s futures so they can give someone another few million dollars.  There’s a story in the Bible of men donating to the church, one man gives 100, another 1000, and then a poor man gives 1.  When Jesus asks who gives the most, his disciples answer the man who gave 1000.  In truth, it was the man who gave 1, because that 1 was worth more to the poor man than the 1000 was to the rich man.

    Republicans love to quote the Bible for their own cause.  How about someone remind them of the rich men and the poor man giving to a worthwhile cause?

    • Melissa, clearly your understanding of the New Testament is as deficient as your understanding of the meaning of theft or stealing. If a person works a job from which he earns an income which is not gained by illegal means, no theft has occurred. Theft can only occur when one person (or group of people) takes the property of another without the second person’s consent.

      In the New Testament, Jesus roundly castigated the pharisees for the ostentatious manner in which they paid their tithe as well as all of the religious legislation which the pharisees developed defining how they were supposed to tithe. Bottom line? You can’t legislate morality, and righteousness meant doing the right thing for the right reason, not for status and not as a means of elevating onesself above others.

      So, my question to you is this: at what point does the legislated transfer of wealth become theft? Or is morality measured on a sliding scale defined by the will of the people?

      P.S. When you say, “wealthy old white men in power” you sound a bit like a bigot.

      • David, those enrolled at San Jose State in education programs are carefully taught to despise the “wealthy old white men in power” to an extent that would surprise most of us on the outside, but is completely commonplace to the students in education and some other fields.

        We used to think that racist claims to supremacy in defining and describing the other should be wiped out.

        But an approved kind of racism that I call a product of the urban-coastal class which features a vile divisive hate for categories of people without reserve or nuance.  It’s also a little like the old class warfare (with some racism thrown in) that was a serious feature of 20th century regimes in the Soviet Union and Mao’s China.

        Yes, our tax dollars are subsidizing this mental pollution which peeks its head out at odd times in Joseph DiSalvo’s column.

    • I know this is going to take some public school math but lets give it a whirl.
          One man was going to give 100.  Decides Not too. Second guy was going to give 1000 and decides not too.  One guy gives 1.  How many “CHILDREN” do you help with that one.
          The average wealthy person buys expensive food, cars, bigger homes, and everyday items.  What does this equal?  More taxes on product.  People with money are more likely to give for organizations in need,  Your guy can only give once.  For a factual statement you might want to see who is the party of wealth.  DEM OR REPUB?

  21. As much as I am sickened by seeing children pay for economic mistakes they did not create, I am more horrified by the ability of government officials to block their constitutients from having a voice via voting.

  22. It is horrifying to think that it could get to seven months of teaching and five months of vacation. Our children are suffering because an agreement can’t be made. This is terrible. What message are we sending our children? What are we telling them when we are constantly bad mouthing teachers? What are we saying when we keep taking money away from the schools? I will tell you what we are saying. We are saying that education isn’t important. This is so wrong. Education is extremely important. We need to stand up and fight for our children.

  23. > What are we telling them when we are constantly bad mouthing teachers?

    Pay attention, Rebecca.

    People haven’t been bad mouthing teachers; they have been bad mouthing teacher UNIONS.

    You knew that, of course, but you chose to maliciously and malignantly MISREPRESENT the concerns of those critical of the public education system.

    How could the people of California EVER entrust the education of their children to someone so misleading and deceptive as you?

  24. “Whatever happened to the ability to compromise for the sake of the whole?” Have politicians ever been able to do this? I am sure a few times it has happened throughout history, but they are definitely few and far between. The way sides pit people against one another is unproductive and I wish there was someway to fix the way politics are run.

  25. “I agree with the recent proposal by the California Federation of Teachers to tax the top 1 percent of Californians who make $500,000 or more per year a surcharge of 1 percent or more. This targeted 1 percent tax increase will bring in $2-3 billion dollars per year to help fund education.”

    This sounds like a wonderful idea, but those in the top 1% who make $500,000 or more per year are probably not going to let it happen!  If our state goes to a 7 month school year, we will know beyond any shadow of a doubt that the foundation of our stable nation is crumbling.  If by some miracle that doesn’t happen, hope for the future will still be alive.

    • Couldn’t agree more with you. And I hope the 7-month school year would never take place; I can’t imagine what would happen to the nation should it carry out this plan. Keep my fingers crossed!

  26. It is truly ridiculous to see the amount of money that is being given to those at the top. This is not to say that they aren’t hard working or didn’t have to pay their dues to get there, but seriously? what do you need all that money for? Extravagance? Luxury? Certainly nothing that is of great importance. Our children should be what is important. They are our future after all.

  27. I agree with the proposal to tax the top one percent who make $500,000 or more per year to tax them an additional 1%.  This additional tax would then help fund our education system.  It is just a shame that our elected officials do not appear to care about the education of our future generation.  I think one of the other issues is that many of our elected officials have forgotten what they were placed in office to represent the PEOPLE, not themselves.

  28. I agree with Ha and many others. A 7 month school year would be a tragedy. It would significantly impact our students’ education and greatly decrease any chance for our students to reach grade level standards of proficiency in math, reading, and writing. We can never hope to compete or even meet the rest of the world in terms of education if as a state we can continue to take giant leaps backward. At this point California almost seems like a lost cause educationally,which breaks my heart as I am a local girl born and raised. It is my deepest hope that our state legislature will be able to come to a compromise that does not harm our students quite much.

  29. It is truly amazing to see that cuts are still being made from education. If there is any area where funds should not be cut is EDUCATION. I strongly believe that we are setting students to complete failure. With cuts in education we are only causing poor education. There has to be a solution to this enormous problem but can it be?

  30. The greatest hope for the future of America is its children, yet all the policies put in place take away from their advancement.  Less money, more testing, shorter school year???  We need a strong leader who will put all the wasted effort that goes towards fighting amongst ourselves and focus that energy into making bold changes that make a positive difference.

  31. I also agree that the seven month school year would be a tragedy. What good can come out of millions of children not learning for five months out of the year? As a teacher it horrifies me. As a mother of a young child, it scares me. I have always believed in public education, but my husband and I are starting to consider private education for our son because of all of the uncertainty that lies in the future of public education. We are in a position to afford this, but how many children out there are NOT in that position? They may not be MY kids, but they are part of our community and as adults it is important that we step outside of the box and look at what is best for all of the children – not just our or anybody elses pocketbooks.

    • I agree with you Carla. Lot of people who can afford private education are beginning to consider it for their children.I agree with your point. What about children who do not have that kind of money? They will have no option. They will not have the opportunity to receive a quality education.I believe education is a right and it’s important to step up for that right.

  32. I agree with your feelings on Jerry Brown’s lack of urgency in this situation.  It is unbelievable to imgagine our students only attending school for seven short months!! Something has got to give or our country is headed for more trouble than we are already in!!

  33. It really is quite sickening knowing that 400 out of over 300 million hold half of the wealth of the US> Thank God for people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet who plan to give away nearly all of their wealth before they die. Something must change. There must a compromise across party lines.

  34. Compromise, as said earlier, is a give and take.  Unfortunately, what most republicans want to take is neither a fair nor balanced equation.  There is a sense of justness that must be cared for by all.  Balance must also be met in all aspects of government but it teeters back and forth continuously to the point of never allowing anyone equilibrium.

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