Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Prop 30: For Red Rubber Balls Everywhere

Erica Rood is a Los Angeles public school teacher, a brilliant writer, and a good friend. She wrote this opinion piece on Prop 30 that I just had to share. It doesn't quote numbers - it comes from the heart.

Prop 30 isn’t an educational proposition. It is a financial proposition, and yet it affects education more than any other program. It is a last resort scare tactic to force the people of California into paying more money in taxes, to put ABC chewing gum into the hole in the bottom of the public education life raft. It doesn’t fix anything, it doesn’t prevent the money from being diverted to administrative costs, it doesn’t do anything except stop thousands of teachers from being fired, and countless others like myself, from taking another pay cut.

In an effort to prepare for the defeat of prop 30, California has withheld millions of dollars from schools this year. If it passes, the money will be returned, if not, then it will begin a chain reaction of continued cuts across public education.

Haven’t we heard this before? Cuts to education, and yet this time, I feel like there really isn’t anything else to cut. Sure you can fire teachers and combine grade level classes, if you fill comfortable with your child sitting in a class of 44 kindergartners.

I suppose your student can get by without technology in the classroom. I currently have 3 computers for 22 kids allowing them each a meager 15 min. a week. That’s okay though, they all have cell phones right? Can’t they learn computer literacy at home?

But I can’t tell you to vote for prop 30 because it doesn’t fix anything. It is a stopgap measure to prevent the worst from getting worse. It provides no reform to fix any of the existing problems. Problems of state channels that funnel educational funding elsewhere, and districts that are such a maze of bureaucracy and staffed with people so far removed from the classroom, but they may as well be in south equatorial Australia.

So I can’t tell you to vote for it because it’s bad legislation. However, it is such bad legislation that if it doesn’t pass, our students lose the most.

Bigger classes, less school days, mass layoffs of newly credentialed teachers, (highly qualified, ebullient, and tech savvy teachers at the bottom of the seniority totem pole), delayed facilities repairs, and even less sports equipment.

Call it hand ball, call it wall ball, call it fun at recess. The game where competitors take out their academic frustrations and energetic wiggles on an unsuspecting red rubber ball in front of cheering legions of classmates. If prop 30 does not pass, frivolities like sports equipment are the next things to go (after art and music of course).

So, if you can remember what it felt like to bounce that red ball high over your head, and the rubber thud it made as it touched back down to earth, consider voting in November. If you can remember how dirty your hands got from the skin of the ball as it licked the blacktop, register to vote. If you can remember creating obscure names like waterfalls and poppies and a whole host of other nouns for different ways the ball could bounce that left yard teachers scratching their heads, consider voting for prop 30.

It won’t fix education, but it will prevent thousands of teachers from being laid off and class sizes from doubling. It would keep my salary where it is, sitting modestly just underneath the middle-class demarcation, and save a red rubber balls for millions of students across blacktop statewide.

Consider voting yes on prop 30 for the red rubber balls.

Erica Rood is a third grade public school teacher. In her fifth year of teaching, she encourages her students to make their voices heard when they see a need in the community.

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