(Thoughts About Jerry Brown and Proposition 30)
I treasure such images as the one I saw earlier on this hot San Diego Monday morning: the vision of a nice number of San Diego City College students walking down hill in front of the B Building on their campus, heading for some trees for shade to listen to their governor, Jerry Brown, speak at a Press Conference regarding Proposition 30 – an initiative designed to raise as much money as possible to arrest the slow death of our schools. Their schools.
Nothing inspires more hope in me regarding the future of our species than seeing young people rising to remodel their world for the better. I hope that’s their intent, getting out there and talking to as many friends and family and others in their community as they can about how Proposition 30 is one of the most important proposals of our time, about how the learning needs of our children and young people or any active learner, for that matter, should be among our highest priorities as a state.
Those who oppose Proposition 30 rant and rave, not about how scary all the cuts to education have been or how deplorable the situation remains, but about: what they like to call “hidden surpluses” as if you can hide a surplus where there is basically zilch; “suspicious accounting” as if there’s something in the coffers to account for; “questionable spending” as if this is a new and unique practice.
The truth is: the state government does waste a lot of money and something needs to be done about that. Yesterday. But today our children are waiting for some pencils and erasers and paper and a few books and some bandaids if they get hurt out on the playground. One can only hope that these detractors stop devoting so much energy to keeping rich people from sharing some of their wealth for the general welfare of society-at-large and come through for our schools. A temporary income tax on the wealthy will not bring about a rash of piggy bank smashing. And then we can do the down and dirty work of “cleaning up government,” through “better stewardship of state finances” and such. But not at the expense of our children.
The good governor, who has always been quite adept at breaking complex matters down to simple terms, laid out the rationale for Proposition 30 quite well, the need to take “a stand against further cuts to our schools and local public safety,” the need to “stop $6 billion in deeper cuts to public education and invest billions of new dollars in our schools starting this year.” What other alternative is there to this disaster?
Besides being buoyed by the students, I also treasured being among a handful of people who got to sit with the governor after the press conference, as he shared his thoughts about education and asked the chancellor of our City Colleges questions about how we can eventually solve these massive problems not only in school finances but in the nuts and bolts (and there are all kinds and styles of nuts and bolts) in facilitating learning experiences for students.
The conversation was interesting. The governor and the chancellor at one point actually spoke in Latin and discussed the ins and outs of grammar as though they created the English language. I was impressed. I found that our state’s highest office holder, in general, has a deep sense of some of what’s needed in a dynamic learning environment. As I listened and also threw out a few of my thoughts regarding the subject as teaching is my craft, my art, my passion, my reason for being, a major definer of who I am as a human being – this following part of the exchange really resonated with me.
“I still ponder that question” he said. And isn’t that what education is all about, raising questions that capture a learner’s imagination and motivates him or her to keep questioning, to continue learning throughout one’s lifetime?
It would, however, seem, in the scheme of things, that we can’t even afford to dream of our children becoming lifelong learners without everyone paying a “fair” share of taxes – so the leaves, if you will, can be watered so they can stay green enough to be studied. We have only one option to solve the monetary problems that plague our schools in this moment in time: passing Proposition 30. For our children and learners of all ages.