Regular readers of The Journal are correct to harbor a degree of skepticism and perhaps be cynical about the Parcel Tax now named Measure CC. Didn't we just pass a bond for the schools? Why can't they use that money? My taxes are already too high! I don't even have a child in the public schools are some of the complaints I've heard. Others are angrier: "They never spend the money on schools where our kids are." "They don't hire from our community." And as aptly illustrated in this publication last week, "There are no AfricanAmerican Administrators down there on South Hudson Avenue!" No matter how you feel about any of these issues, which I will attempt to address, you still need to support Measure CC. The quality of our public schools is linked to the quality of life in our community and the value of your property if you are fortunate enough to be a property owner. Teachers and Administrators in this district have been working very, very hard to improve the educational outcomes for all of the children in this district Altadena, Pasadena and Sierra Madre. This is especially true for the children of underachieving subgroups (No Child Left Behind language), in our school district these groups are African American, English Language Learners, and students in special Education. The Achievement Gap is real and it is being addressed. Increasing class sizes and decreasing resources puts all that has been gained in jeopardy, and makes future gains unlikely.
Our state is in a financial crisis, and it is damaging the educational system we have all come to depend on in several serious and profound ways. This is as true for our college and university system as it is for the K-12 system which is my current focus.
In Pasadena, we have had multimillion dollar cuts every year since I have been elected to the Board. 11 million 19 million and now 24 million. These are not cumulative cuts, every year there are new demands for deeper cuts, and this year the demand cuts into the bone. Such cuts are dangerous and tend to destroy that which is being cut. We are fortunate to live in a community where the citizens can afford to pass a Parcel Tax (Measure CC). For five years, $120 per parcel will raise 7 million a year. That still leaves us with serious cuts that must be made; however it gives us some choices and pulls away from the bone. It will save some jobs; programs will be preserved because we will have the resources to do so.
Every school district in this state is being forced to issue layoff notices to its teachers. Employee unions are agreeing to furlough days to save jobs.When people say, the economy is bad right now, I cannot afford any more taxes, and my response is "It is because times are hard that we need the additional income. Please support Measure CC.
Northwest schools were underserved in Measure Y but vigilance has increased for Measure TT and will be there in force for Measure CC. You have my word on this, and I assure you, I am not shy about bringing up the subject of past inequity. The current district Administration was not in power during Measure Y, so please don't let misplaced anger be directed at them. We have a Facilities Master Plan that was approved by the Board and is being followed. If you want to know what is scheduled for any school in our district, you can review the plan on our district web site (www.pusd.us). If you want to download the entire plan, make sure you have a lot of paper in your printer! Measure TT was for construction and its use is restricted to that purpose; it cannot be diverted to the general fund, which is where the current short fall is. We (the School Board)have passed a Local Hiring Ordinance, and a local group has been contracted to make sure that 25% of the construction jobs are filled by residents of our communities.
They may not be the most diverse leadership team, but the team assembled by Mr. Diaz is working quite hard to improve educational outcomes for all children. Some of you remember our African American superintendent who was more concerned about the students who were attending private schools than he was about educating the children attending public schools. That is no longer the case. We need more representative leadership at the top administrative level, but that alone is not an indication of increased school success for our children. If that were the case there would be no Achievement Gap in PUSD for African American students
I do believe that the African American community can and should become more strategic consumers of what PUSD has to offer. I will write more about that here in The Journal, once Measure CC has passed. However, right now we need to stay focused. It is $10.00 a month to save our schools and our community. Please support Measure CC. So very much depends on your support.