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Memo to Molly Munger: Quit now to save the schools

November 01, 2012|By Karin Klein
  • Molly Munger on the campaign trail for her Proposition 38 tax measure for schools.
Molly Munger on the campaign trail for her Proposition 38 tax measure for… (Damian Dovarganes / Associated…)

How much does Molly Munger, the force behind Proposition 38, care about California's public schools? A lot, to be sure; she has put millions of her own money into the campaign to raise taxes for them via her ballot initiative. But enough?

It's time for Munger to sacrifice more than her money if she wants to prevent difficult-to-even-contemplate cuts for the schools. She should swallow her pride, give up on her initiative and throw her votes to Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown's better-constructed plan for saving schools as well as helping with the state's budget deficit.

It was bad enough when, in an effort to boost Proposition 38, Munger mounted an expensive attack-ad campaign against Proposition 30. Widely criticized for that move, she withdrew the ads, but the damage was done. (And similar ads by her conservative brother, wrongly claiming that "politicians" would get their hands on money intended for schools, continue.) Proposition 30 is still hanging in there, sort of, but its chances for passage have weakened considerably.

ENDORSEMENTS: The Times' recommendations for Nov. 6

Meanwhile, if polls are to be remotely believed, Proposition 38 doesn't have a chance. The most recent surveys showed it with 34% support. Yet her initiative continues to pull support away from Proposition 30. (If both initiatives pass, the one with the most votes wins.)

Proposition 30 is a superior measure on several fronts. It would avoid trigger cuts that would cause immediate and drastic harm to schools, which would probably be forced to cut the school year by up to three weeks, as well as $250 million in cuts to the University of California and an equal amount to theĀ  California State University system.

Beyond that, one aspect of Proposition 30 that has been little noticed is that it also provides money for community colleges; right now, more than 200,000 students at those colleges cannot find a seat in a single class, let alone enough courses or the courses they need to graduate. There's little point to rescuing only K-12 schools when the graduates would have nowhere to go.

Munger has a chance to be a hero by encouraging her supporters to forget about Proposition 38 and vote for the initiative that stands a chance of helping the state's children and young people.

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