Robert Spurzem writes (Letters, Oct. 23) with respect to Proposition 13, "Because of this California enjoys prosperity, a tax surplus and no real diminution in public services."
I don't know what he's talking about. I only know what I saw when I attended public school in California (class of '83).
My senior year, the student television workshop died because of budget cuts in the school district. That program was not part of the "three R's" and so it was among the first to go. Though I didn't learn any R's, that program taught me a hell of a lot about electronics, leadership, teamwork and responsibility. I'm certain that learning those skills at an early age has helped me be more effective in the research groups I work with.
Proposition 13 didn't just kill my favorite program. It affected the drama department, vocational education and gifted and talented education (two excellent science teachers went into industry). Even that sacred cow, the football team, had to live with old uniforms and a burned out scoreboard.
I don't blame the administrators for cutting these programs. They didn't have the money to buy chalk and the basics must come first. (I'm not being rhetorical. There was a serious chalk shortage. It got so bad that the math students took up a collection and bought the teacher a case of chalk so that he could keep teaching).
Instead I blame voters like Spurzem who think the future will work itself out and since they're out of school, education is not their problem.
I blame people like Gov. Deukmejian who do what the voters want, even when the voters' wants are based on ignorance. But mostly, I blame parents like mine who don't want to make waves when they see a problem or worse, unlike my parents, never take the time to ask how things are going in school.
Let me finish by challenging Spurzem and anyone else who thinks Proposition 13 has not had any real effect on public programs to call their local public school and ask the principal if they have enough teachers, if the buildings are safe and adequately maintained, and if all the textbooks are up to date. Or better yet, visit the school and decide for yourself if it's an environment that's conducive to learning. If it isn't, do something about it.