California’s state government has passed three disastrous budgets in less than a year: last week’s pillage followed agreements in February and last September that similarly robbed billions from social programs. Those earlier packages also included gifts to corporations in the form of giant new tax loopholes. So how can we stop this recurring nightmare? (I’m sure the question applies across the U.S. these days.) In my last (too-long) post, I put out some general ideas for moving forward. Today’s post will get into more detail about one major issue we need to confront: Proposition 13. In the next post I’ll look at other needed progressive tax reforms, and in the following post, give some thoughts on starting to build a fight back.
I promised to offer alternatives to CTA’s historic pattern of defeatism and accommodation (discussed in the previous post). So today I’ll list a few fairly general things I think CTA and its parent organization, the National Education Association (NEA), should do to pull out of this long downward spiral of political retreat and increasing weakness.
California’s Democratic legislature and Republican governor have just agreed to a budget dealing new, devastating blows to poor and working people and another gift to corporations and the rich. It delivers $9 billion in cuts to kindergarten-through-university public education, and eliminates billions more in services to the families of low-income students. All proposals to mitigate the damage with new taxes, including a modest tax on oil production, were dropped. So naturally the California Teachers Association went all out to lobby for the budget’s approval. And when it passed Friday, CTA thanked “our many members who have reached out to Legislators and the Governor to ensure education is not forgotten during the budget crisis.”
As last reported, the idea of a nationwide teachers walkout for full school funding at corporate expense was greeted by passionate cheers on July 2. That was at an NEA forum attended by several hundred delegates just one day before the organization’s four-day Representative Assembly opened in San Diego. And it was after the famous, charismatic, and eloquent author Michael Eric Dyson endorsed the proposal as “beautiful” and the potential impact “extraordinary.” I’m no Michael Eric Dyson. But maybe a few other factors also account for the very different reception given the idea just down the hall the next morning by most of the nearly 900 delegates in the California Caucus.