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Proposition 98 Funds, Ratios

December 28, 1988

Your editorial is wrong. Your error stems, presumably, from a lack of familiarity with the state's collective bargaining law.

Because I want Proposition 98 monies put on the bargaining table in local school districts, you conclude that I want all the dollars "for teacher salaries." That is not true. Teacher salaries are only one of many fiscal items that California Teachers Assn. chapters negotiate with school management. Class size is another.

What I resolved to "fight" in state Sen. Gary K. Hart's (D-Santa Barbara) legislation--and in Gov. George Deukmejian's proposal--is yet another mandate from the state. Educators on the local level, not politicians in Sacramento, ought to decide how the funds are spent. And the mechanism for making that decision is collective bargaining.

The choice ought to be local because class size is not a uniform problem. In a handful of the state's 1,000 school districts, no problem exists. In many others, no space is available for the additional classrooms that would be needed to relieve overcrowding this year. And in every district, teachers, administrators, and school board members know if, where, when, and how class size should be lowered.

CTA and its members will do everything possible to eliminate overcrowding. Indeed, we are not merely in support of reducing class size. We are the principal advocates of that goal. A year ago we spent more than $1.1 million of our own money on an advertising blitz that brought the issue of overcrowded classes to the attention of the public. In drafting Proposition 98, we listed class-size reduction as one of just five programs on which "Gann excess" funds may be spent. We have pushed, year after year, for appropriations to cut class size. (Since Gov. Deukmejian has vetoed every bill the state Senate and Assembly approved, you will perhaps understand why we are skeptical of his new-found interest.)

The "spirit" of Proposition 98 is its call for collaborative decision-making. That spirit reflects a key recommendation in all of the many recent "educational reform" studies. In making their class-size proposals, neither Sen. Hart nor Gov. Deukmejian consulted with CTA--the people chiefly responsible for writing, financing and working to enact Proposition 98. Only on the local level are teachers assured of involvement in the decision-making through collective bargaining.



California Teachers Assn.

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