Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Public Education – Funding Our Future: Town Hall Event


Details: Thursday, February 25, 2010; 6:30-8:30
Marina Middle School, 3500 Fillmore St., SF, 94123

In response to the $113 million budget cut announced by San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD), outraged parents are taking action to save their schools. “We felt we had no choice, we had to do something” says Holly Carver, one of the six moms who started the project and a leading member of the planning committee for the town hall event: Public Education – Funding Our Future. “We expect over 1,000 parents, from 75 different schools, representing all of San Francisco from the Bayview to the outer Sunset to the Presidio. It will be standing room only in the Marina Middle School auditorium” says Carver. “This is the beginning of parent involvement in SF like you have never seen before.”

The moms are forming an advocacy group to give voice to the needs of children in public education in San Francisco. “We were shocked at how quickly this went from an idea to a full fledge movement. Parents are passionately looking for leadership and organization” says Cece Kaufman, another member of the planning committee.

On Thursday, February 25th state and local politicians, leading education thinkers and members of the community will be joined by thousands of parents to “look for solutions to the massive budget gap facing our school district over the next two years” says parent Michelle Parker. Moderating the two hour panel discussion and Q&A session is Michael Krasny, from KQED’s award winning show ‘Forum.’ The event panelists include:

· Mark Leno and Leland Yee, California State Senators

· Tom Ammiano and Fiona Ma, California State Assembly Members

· David Chiu, President, SF Board of Supervisors

· Jane Kim, President, SF Board of Education

· Carlos Garcia, Superintendent of Schools, SFUSD

“We are talking about cuts of $1,300 per SFUSD student,” says parent Crystal Brown. “This isn’t something we can make up by organizing yet another bake sale fundraiser.” Carlos Garcia, SFUSD Superintendent of Schools, has described the cuts as “even greater than those experienced during the Great Depression.” Outlined cuts include: laying off hundreds of teachers, increasing class sizes to 30, eliminating summer school and more.

“The goal of the meeting is to give parents a voice and look for solutions,” says parent Linda Shaffer. “At one time California was an education leader, now we are 47th in per pupil spending in the United States – and threaten to be last in per pupil spending after this round of budget cuts.”

“In the short term we are looking for ways to bridge the funding gap”, says parent Erica Hunt. “Long-term we need to address the way Sacramento funds education, period. The system is broken and needs to be fixed.”

Included in the conversation will be special guests: Terry Bergeson, Executive Director of the SF School Alliance, Dennis Kelly, President of the United Educators of SF, Jim Lazarus, SF Chamber of Commerce, Debbie Look, State Legislative Director of the California PTA and Mary Perry, Deputy Director, Ed Source.


  1. Where is Parents for Public Schools - are they part of this?

  2. PPS along with many other organizations are supporters of the event. PPS is providing much of the free childcare for the evening.

  3. Will Marina Middle School be able to accommodate the crowd? It would be sad if the important event was diminished by logistical/technical issues...

  4. Most likely Marina Middle will NOT be able to accomodate the entire crowd. This is something that we, the organizers feel extremly anxious about. However, we are just volunteer parents, similar to many of you and we could not have imagined the overwhelming response to the event and the issues. We have spent hours and hours at the location working out the details, and there just simply isn't time or resources to move the event.
    We do hope, that this is just the beginning of these conversations and action steps. So, hopefully there will be additional forums for parents to take a stand.

    Thanks for understanding.

  5. Waste of time. Preaching to the converted. A march on Sacramento would be much more effective, this rally is just for "show".

  6. You are wrong. There are a variety of forces that need to be mobilized and focused, including many who have committed to attend. People with access to any kind of power--political, financial, etc.--need to be mobilized to address the education funding crisis, whether that is in raising funds for a foundation or for long-term, stable funding solutions in Sacramento. It is important that these people see a strong turnout of parents and others in the community, because it will give juice to any of their efforts. Yes, a march on Sacramento needs to happen too--and will happen, on March 4, in Sacramento, LA, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and many other cities and campuses around the state.

    The march on the 4th is going to be big, btw. EVERYONE should be there. There are strands of schools marching in from the Mission, the north side, the Sunset (via MUNI), the Castro. Oakland USD and Daly City will be there too. Also SF State and various community colleges. Be there for public education. A large crowd WILL send a message.

  7. Overflow into the streets outside Marina Middle School will send a message too. I'm inviting everyone in my e-mail address book who might remotely be interested and urging them to pass it on, and I hope everyone will do this!

  8. I think a march in San Francisco is just as important, if not more so, than a march in Sacramento. Middle-class families in San Francisco need to make some noise and remind everyone that this town is not just a playground for the rich. I seem to remember Gavin talking about how important it was to keep middle-class families in San Francisco. That was back when he was running for mayor. What's he doing these days, other than plotting his next campaign? Don't suppose he'll show his face at the Town Hall meeting.

  9. Yes, but Gavin won't be there, will he? New York City pitches in about 7K per kid each year towards education, San Francisco pitches in hardly anything, in comparison.

    Mark Leno, Leland Yee, Tom Ammiano and Fiona Ma already vote for more money for education. It's the asshole Republicans who don't.
    So I agree that speaking out to the 4 above is sort of a waste of time, we don't need their votes, we need to sway the Republicans who would rather build prisons.

  10. I'm really uncomfortable saying this, but I'm quite convinced that many officials, opinion leaders and much of the press (I am not counting the Chronicle's current education reporters) see that urban public schools are largely nonwhite and write them off as "failures" for (unconsciously) that reason. So I think the highly visible presence of middle-class white parents in the town hall and in the streets marching and fighting for our urban public schools is likely to have extra impact. Again, I'm quite uncomfortable saying this, but I've thought about it for a long time and I think it's true. I'm taking the non-chicken route and not posting this anonymously, either.

  11. "Mark Leno, Leland Yee, Tom Ammiano and Fiona Ma already vote for more money for education. It's the asshole Republicans who don't."

    I don't find this kind of language to be particularly constructive.

    I'm not a Republican. I donated to the Obama campaign. I'm very pro universal healthcare. I've voted in the past to increase school funding.

    However, I don't see the leadership in this city dealing with the fact that we need to improve academic standards in our schools and, to some extent, stop pushing the middle class out of the school enrollment process.

    As this new proposal again disfavors the middle class, especially in the Southeast of the city, I will not support any more requests for school funding increases.

  12. Yes, we know you won't support public schools. You've said so before -- not unless someone gives you the golden ticket to the school of your choice, anywhere in the city. Unfortunately, it simply wouldn't work out for everyone in the city to attend whatever school is currently reputed to have the most upper class children attending. As for the changes in the enrollment process, they were made IN RESPONSE to complaints from parents. Can't please all the people all the time! Meanwhile, the academic standards in our schools already ARE high. Don't attend the march if you don't feel like it, though. We won't miss you.

  13. 2:48:

    Go ahead, be smug and condescending.

    I don't think I am the only parent who is unhappy with both the old and new system.

    People don't have any more money to pay. It is not as if they wouldn't like the schools to be better.

    However, people are not going to approve funding increases when their networth has decreased and when the school continue to be oblivious to the needs of the center of gravity of the tax paying public.

    It is true that funding increases are needed on a massive scale. I believe the state shortfall, just for the public schools, exceeds five billion dollars per year.

    That doesn't include the shortfall for colleges and universities.

    Our state deficit exceeds something like $20 billion dollars a year.

    Businesses continue to leave the state, in part because they resist attempts to increase corporate tax, and in part because California no longer provides the educated workforce they require. In the Bay Area, they are increasingly are having trouble hiring because of the lack of good schools and high cost of homes.

    So I am honestly asking:

    Where do you expect the funding increases for schools to come from?

  14. There is plenty of wealth in California, and especially in San Francisco. Take a look at the growth in high-end restaurants in the last two years. Are people willing to share? I'll gladly pay more property taxes. The long term pay-off clearly warrants a few short-term sacrifices. I've seen how great our San Francisco schools can be; there's been tremendous progress in the last few years. I got a great education from the UC system, too.

    You're angry, we see that. Should we let your vindictive resentment prevent us from providing Californians with excellent public education possible?

    No way.

  15. 3:15

    Some people and corporations DO have more money to pay, yes, even in this recession. Our marginal tax rates have decreased greatly over one generation and are now lower than in much of northwestern Europe. It's a choice we have made at the ballot box, to prioritize the wealthy (those who make over $250,000/year, to use Obama's catagorizing of it) and wealthy corporations.

    Just a few changes in the state and federal tax structure would go a long way. Decrease tax expenditures (give-backs) on the federal level is one. Decrease the amount above a certain level that can deducted for charitable giving (this deduction overwhelmingly favors churches and symphonies--and I like symphonies!--at the expense of programs that benefit the working class and poor). Raise the ceiling for social security taxes. Raise marginal tax rates back to levels that existed in the Clinton Administration (notice I'm not saying Nixon). On the state level, divide the property tax rolls. Find a way to distribute the property tax burden more fairly between long-time owners and new--without impoverishing fixed-income elderly. Back to the federal level, sunset the estate tax exemption (called the death tax by the GOP, although it benefits only the extremely wealthy). These are just a few ideas. On the spending side, reduce military expenditures and reclaim the peace dividend.

    Where is the money to come from? Federal and state levels both. I'm not an advocate of raising income only. There will need to be spending cuts. I think it was Ezra Klein in the Washington Post who linked to a study showing the unfeasability of dealing with our problems only from tax-raising along or only from spending cuts alone. Both should be on the table. They should also be smart changes.

    The fact is that the middle and working classes are getting screwed by changes to our tax and spending structures that have greatly favored the top 10% of earners in this country, and especially the top 1-2% (those over $250,000/year in earnings). The rest of us have been sold a bill of goods in this country that taxes affect us negatively. For the most part, taxes are a good thing for middle class folks--we get schools, fire protection, health care.

    I have to agree with the previous poster that it is annoying to have you repeat over and over that because you didn't get the golden ticket you won't vote for the schools. Everyone knows there are not the same number of choice spots as there are applicants. If anything, the number of choice spots has GROWN in recent years. So, you got unlucky, so you'll vote no on school funding measures to screw everyone else in the same way? That really is shortsighted and sour grapes and frankly selfish. Why live in the city at all if you feel this way? You're going to be disappointed over and over at having to share and not always getting what you want.

  16. "You're angry, we see that. Should we let your vindictive resentment prevent us from providing Californians with excellent public education possible?"

    I'm truly not angry. I've heard people here refer to me as bitter and angry. I'd say my mood would be defined as concerned.

    I don't see that speaking truth to the matter as being the least bit "vindictive."

    I don't see the growth in businesses that you are talking about. There have been a few restaurants that have succeeded that offer inexpensive bistro food, but many "high end" restaurants have closed in the last year. A huge number of small businesses have closed in the city.

    And Silicon Valley, the real source of wealth in the Bay Area, is on life support.

    I also would like to have excellent public schools. However, we are not going to get there if we don't balance the state budget. I'm sorry if you think that fiscal responsibility is not a value of the left.

  17. "Some people and corporations DO have more money to pay, yes, even in this recession. Our marginal tax rates have decreased greatly over one generation and are now lower than in much of northwestern Europe."

    I have a number of friends who live in Canada. If I lived in Canada, my marginal rate would be about 50%. I would have access to good schools. I would have access to good healthcare without ridiculous copays and uncovered expenses. Public spaces would be maintained. I would have access to generous maternity leave. Etc. However, I would also live in a country that jealously selects its immigrants and its fiscal policy so that the above sacred public trusts are not undermined.

    "It's a choice we have made at the ballot box, to prioritize the wealthy (those who make over $250,000/year, to use Obama's catagorizing of it) and wealthy corporations."

    I'm not adverse to returning to a Clinton era tax structure. However, we would need to do that before approving increased funding to schools.

    "Find a way to distribute the property tax burden more fairly between long-time owners and new--without impoverishing fixed-income elderly."

    It is my impression that Californians would be terrified to touch any modification to prop 13. I'm neutral on the issue, but I get the sense that California voters won't budge on changes to prop 13.

    The reason that I won't approve more school tax increases isn't because I am bitter. It is because the rubber has to meet the road sometime.

    We have to increase revenue first before we increase funding to education.

    I'm not voting for something that will further lower our bond rating, if that is possible.

  18. Balancing the budget? I agree. When there's limited funds its a matter of priorities.

    Tell me, why do juvenile criminals get brand new, colorful facilities with the latest technology, glass facades, environmentally sustainable engineering systems, etc. etc. when my kid's teacher often pays out of pocket to supply her c. 1980s relocatable classroom? Have you seen the new SF Juvenile Facility? How about the new facilities in Sacto that you just paid upwards of $50m for?

    That's not a lack of funds. Its a lack of priorities.

  19. Here's an excellent description of the Prop. 13 situation -- and it's readable and interesting, too:

  20. And re Prop. 13, 4:09, I'm not so sure:

    "It is my impression that Californians would be terrified to touch any modification to prop 13. I'm neutral on the issue, but I get the sense that California voters won't budge on changes to prop 13."

    Here are some points.

    Very few Californians actually know what Prop. 13 even is. Only those born before June 1970 AND living in California in June 1978 (and voting) participated in that election -- that applies to me, but very few others in this community! And very few people who weren't around and voting on it, except maybe a few serious wonks, really know what it is.

    When pollsters ask respondents their opinions on Prop. 13, very few know what it is -- Mark DiCamillo of the Field Poll told me this (I interviewed him by e-mail for a blog). He sent me the brief description they show people, who then give their opinion on something they never heard of till that moment. Lots of them say they approve, and the press makes a big deal of how much support there is for Prop. 13. Well, I maintain that's totally bogus, if all that approval comes from people who never heard of it, based on a three-sentence description.

    Furthermore, one significant piece of Prop. 13 was already removed by Prop. 39 in the 2000 election -- the former 2/3 supermajority required to pass local school bond measures, which was reduced to 55%. Other pieces could theoretically be removed one by one like that, including the 2/3 supermajority requirement to pass local parcel taxes and the 2/3 supermajority requirement in the state lege to approve the state budget. Another biggie is the part of Prop. 13 (see the link I just posted) that means it covers corporate-owned property.

    I think today's Californians have some major misconceptions about Prop. 13, and that modifying it IS feasible, as well as being essential to the survival of our state.

  21. I hail from the left, and I value fiscal responsibility. I also see that the federal deficit ballooned under Republican stewardship in the last decade, through tax cuts that benefited the very wealthy, increased military spending based on two wars, and an unfunded prescription drug benefit pushed through without Canada-style cost controls. The Republicans are the party of fiscal IRresponsibility--they'll vote for anything that moves money up the food chain or panders to a voting bloc like the elderly. (The Senate or House health care plans would both be much better than the drug plan was on the cost-control front and would benefit the middle class. They are essentially moderate, compromise bills, both of them.)

    I agree CA voters don't want to change Prop 13 whole hog. That's why a strategic approach is to go at it piecemeal--divide the rolls, reduce the 2/3 requirement to raise taxes, etc. What do you think people are talking about in terms of school funding? I don't anyone who is advocating to raise funding for schools without a plan to pay for it. Not just through bonds either (aka future debt).

    But then, you must know a parcel tax is not future debt; it is a form of local property tax. You say we must raise revenue first to raise funding. Do you object to that form of raising revenue? Will you vote against a parcel tax? Against reforming any part of Prop 13? If not, why not? Because you didn't get a spot in a favored school? Sometimes you say it's because the system is unfair to middle class people; other times you seem to suggest you won't vote for bonds but you would support tax increases that are more progressive. Which is it? Sour grapes or tax policy?

    I do think the feds should kick in more, especially given our unfunded mandates for special needs kids and our heavy immigrant burden. I'm also not against a better immigrant policy that provides a pathway for those who are here and also tightens the border. But should we wait for the feds to deal with that issue before advocating for our children who need teachers, books, pencils, libraries? Really? Yeah, we have a lot of interrelated problems, but we have to start somewhere (this is where I really don't envy Obama's mammoth set of tasks).

    So, seriously, how do you propose that we get to more revenue, if not pointing out, via mass meetings and mass marches, that we NEED school funding and therefore we need to pay for it? Our era of tax cuts for the wealthy has gone too far and our children are paying the price. You can't ask for revenue increases without also pointing out WHY we need them.

    It's a miracle that our schools in SF have improved, and gained more "acceptable" spots in this era of budget-cutting. I'm sorry you didn't get one of them. Surely you can see the improvements though--overall, if not the spot you wanted for your child. Can you see past your individual experience to see that? Why on earth would you want to put the brakes on that, or on the nascent parents' campaign to restore revenue sources in this state and nation for public education?

  22. Hey guys, I'm not responsible for the ills of the Republican party. I protested, right their on Market Street, against the Iraq war. I cringed while the Oh, So Liberal New York Times published information indicating a false link between Iraq and Al Qaeda. "We're Gonna Get 'Um." Remember that?

    "Will you vote against a parcel tax?"

    Probably, yes, for the time being. I don't think voters would approve a tax of more than about $200. That was the amount levied via Prop A. In the mini bubble economy of a few years ago, Prop A passed by a small majority. Sure, prop A has made a small difference. But it is really a drop in the bucket, compared to what is needed to fix the schools.

    Many new home owners are really feeling the pitch with property taxes already. We bought in 2002, but when the tax bill comes, it is no picnic. And by the way, we are levied a 2% increase every year, even without another parcel tax increase. That's a lot when you can't get access to a decent public school. (I know, I know, you think I'm bitter. Nope. Just filling you in on the fiscal reality.)

    Caroline, if a reasonable proposal to modify prop 13 was tabled, I would vote for it. Also, although many Californians may be misinformed about Prop 13, most homeowners quickly learn what it is.

    "So, seriously, how do you propose that we get to more revenue, if not pointing out, via mass meetings and mass marches, that we NEED school funding and therefore we need to pay for it? Our era of tax cuts for the wealthy has gone too far and our children are paying the price. You can't ask for revenue increases without also pointing out WHY we need them."

    I think it is pretty clear that when you have more than a $20 billion dollar deficit and the worst bond rating in the nation, that you need to cut expenses and increase revenues. Both.

    True, I don't think we should cut funding to schools, but at this point, I don't think we can increase funding anymore either.

    I do agree with you about maintaining funding to special needs children. I also think it is appalling that we are considering cutting the funding that goes toward disabled care. And yes, that state parks situation is a tragedy.

    Anyway, I'm rabbling. You get the picture.

    The three things that will start to turn this state around are a fair and votable revision to prop 13, a return to Clinton era income tax policies and tighter controls on immigration.

  23. I would question whether most homeowners (excluding those who were around in 1978) quickly learn what Prop. 13 is. In my observation they tend to have a hazy notion that it's something that keeps their property taxes from rising much, but not much more than that.

    Do most newer homeowners understand that Prop. 13 means that the homeowner who bought in 2006 pays enormously higher property taxes than the owner of the twin property next door who bought in 1988?

    Also, 5:31, are you the applicant I've been looking for since 1996 who truly held out through the process and absolutely could not get an SFUSD public school they were happy with? Because I still haven't found that person -- until now, if that's what you really are.

  24. The three things that will start to turn this state around are a fair and votable revision to prop 13, a return to Clinton era income tax policies and tighter controls on immigration.

    Many who will be in attendance at both the Feb 25 meeting and the March 4 rally are working on at least the first of these. I am. If this is the strategy that you support for saving our schools (and our state and nation), what are you doing to bring it about, besides not voting for school funding?

    [Let's stipulate that we are all busy--I am a working single mother of two children in public school and I volunteer at their school as well as work on political campaigns. I am collecting signatures for several Prop-13 and budget-related initiatives and will walk precincts if they qualify. We have time to post here on this blog; we have time to work for real change.]

  25. "Do most newer homeowners understand that Prop. 13 means that the homeowner who bought in 2006 pays enormously higher property taxes than the owner of the twin property next door who bought in 1988?"

    Well, all you need to do is go down to the assessor recorder and have a look at the date and purchase price of houses on your street. I don't know if most people do this. We did.

    "Also, 5:31, are you the applicant I've been looking for since 1996 who truly held out through the process and absolutely could not get an SFUSD public school they were happy with?"

    Sorry, I'm not sure what you're referring to. We did go through two rounds, plus wait list. Our wait list school was not a trophy.

  26. There are several good initiatives that are in the signature-gathering phase. "Close the Corporate Loopholes" (there are actually three similar versions circulating) is one. Another is the "End Two-Thirds Majority" rule for budgeting. There are some others aimed at specific issues around Prop 13, although these named here are better bankrolled.

    Check out for a wikipedia-type version of those that have been filed.

    Progressive blogs on CA politics that can lead you to more information:

  27. It's totally off topic here. I've observed publicly that over the years, I have never seen anyone who stuck it out through the full process who didn't eventually get a school they were happy with. Not necessarily their initial choice, or a trophy school, but one they were pleased with. After a while I started actively searching for someone like that. I thought I had found two (although both unusual situations), but both wound up getting their top choices for first grade. 5:31, it sounds like you're an actual example. OK, sorry to veer so far off topic.

  28. So, 5:31, since you won't vote for school funding now but say you support systemic change, what are doing to bring this about?

  29. 6:32 PM:

    To answer you directly, I'd hope to be able to vote for practical proposals on the next ballot.

    Prop 15 looks promising (Fair Elections Act).

    I'd certainly vote for any props that try to save our state parks and any prop to protect the disabled.

    I'm interested in any proposal that would modify prop 13 in a fair way. I know that Tom Ammiano is working on prop 13. I'm not in favor of his decision to go only after corporate taxes. I'm not sure that we should do anything else to push corporations out of the state.

    I'd like to see some hard fiscal choices made by school officials before I vote for any more school finding increases. I keep seeing more votes that involve more spending. That concerns me.

    I know that you guys are working on a preserving public school funding. If it involved a comprehensive proposal to change prop 13, I might be interested. I'm not interested in supporting an increase that is levied through a parcel tax.

  30. 7:10 (and etc) I think you are being impractical. You don't think we can overturn Prop 13 as a whole but you disagree with any attempts to dismantle it piece by piece (polling shows that going after the corporate side first could win). You want immigration reform before you'll look at any school funding issue. You want every effort to meet a level of perfection that is not possible. We MUST move forward in this state. Please do not let the perfect be the enemy of the desperately needed good.

    Also, hard fiscal choices?? Where do you see the fat, exactly, after all these years? I might think of a few programs, but not too much. Maybe look at Rachel Norton's post on her blog about central school funding. Most of it is necessary (custodians, for example) and most of it goes to the classroom.

    Finally, are you willing to work to help qualify or pass a decent ballot measure, or do you just vote--and post entries on this blog complaining about how screwed you have been by our school system? If it is that awful, maybe you should be stepping up, rather than discouraging those who are trying to make change.

    I hope everyone will consider attending the meeting on the 25th, and the march and rally on the 4th.

  31. Actually, only Leland Yee stood up for kids and voted against cuts to education. The rest of our delegation unfortunately voted for these terrible budgets. Thank you Senator Yee.

  32. OK, now I have to quote parts of the Democracy Center article on Prop. 13 that I've been plugging:

    Proposition 13 was opposed by every major Democratic leader in the state and also by a long list of prominent Republicans including two future GOP Governors, Deukmejian and Wilson. Then mayor of San Diego and a candidate for governor, Wilson campaigned against the initiative, calling it "a meat ax approach."

    Proposition 13's opponents also included the pro-business California Taxpayers Association along with The Bank of America, Atlantic Richfield, Southern California Edison, Southern Pacific Railroad and Standard Oil of California.

    The corporations not only not only opposed Proposition 13 but gave huge cash donations to the campaign to defeat it. The executive vice president of Southern California Edison explained to reporters, "Although business stands to receive at least $4 billion of the anticipated $6 billion in property tax relief, we felt it was time for the private sector to stand up for principle and fight this measure as financially unsound."

    Despite opponents' warnings that 2/3 of the tax relief would go to business and landlords, that funding for public schools would be slashed, and that the state would take control over local decisions - voters were angry and extremely distrustful of an alternative drawn up by politicians.

    ... [Prop. 13] was about people living in the little houses they bought in the 1950s for $15,000 who suddenly faced property tax bills based on real estate prices ten times that. They grabbed onto Proposition 13 for protection and two decades later they are still holding on. What we've forgotten, or never understood, is the massive corporate giveaway that tagged along for the ride. Over time houses get sold and, under Proposition 13, get reassessed based on what they are actually worth today. Corporate skyscrapers, however, have a loophole. As long as the same corporation holds title, as long as the logo on the door remains the same, the building continues to be taxed based on what it was worth more than two decades ago. The respected Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has estimated that this one loophole in Proposition 13 costs California schools and local governments between $3.5 to $5 billion per year.

    Twenty years ago California's corporate leaders fought the corporate windfall in Proposition 13, like a bad drug they didn't want to take. Today they guard their lucrative "skyscraper loophole" like a desperate addict. In 1991 when legislation was introduced to have corporate property (not homes) periodically reassessed to its current value, business leaders descended on it with all their political muscle and killed it in its nest. Two decades ago California's corporate leadership was made up of people willing, "to stand up for principle". Today our corporate leaders seem only interested in lobbying for more tax breaks.

  33. Look 7:18 PM, I'm not on your case because you aren't making a contribution to private and parochial schools in this city.

    There are other issues, besides schools, believe it our not.

    "You want every effort to meet a level of perfection that is not possible."

    Really? I think you just don't like it that people are pointing out that yet another increase in school funding, levied by way of a parcel tax, is probably not going to pass.

    I guess we'll see.

  34. SF has a history of passing school bonds, plus the recent parcel tax. Even when the 2/3 supermajority was/is required, SF has managed 70 percent-plus support, even under far more adverse political conditions than we see today. So based on past history, 7:50's pessimism is probably unwarranted.

    But this isn't just about San Francisco kids, and this effort needs to be taken statewide.

  35. Dear phenomenal event organizers,

    Given the limited capacity of the venue, I wonder if its possible to record/telecast the meeting (like the BOE meetings are)?. I know its easier said than done. Just an idea...for those who want to attend but are unable to, it would be ideal!

  36. Yes, Senator Yee was really our only legislator willing to stand up for Education during the budget. He also was the only one to say no to the awful "race to the top" bills that recently were approved. I too look forward to thanking him at this forum.

  37. Caroline, thanks for your description of the corporate loophole in Prop. 13. I found it very illuminating. It's no wonder CA is in such a sad state of affairs. It's especially disturbing that landlords are included in the deal. Surely the market value for rent should play into the equation, no?

    The homeowner side of it is also ludicrous. While I agree it's wrong to force people out of their homes because of rising taxes, (which happens just about everywhere but CA) there should be some trigger point where people pay a larger fraction of their fair share.

    We wouldn't resent some of our neighbors quite so much!

  38. 7:50 of course I know there are other issues (infrastructure, health care, etc.). But you seem so interested in what you see in the failings of our schools, and also clear on exactly how to solve them. I'm just wondering if you are doing anything....besides criticizing people here for their efforts (Feb 25, March 4, ballot measures, etc.).

    I'm just following the logic of your arguments--if your consistent posting here on this issue is really not sour grapes because you didn't get your preferred school, but is a different vision for how the schools should be run and funded, then what are you doing about that?

    I'm not worried about parochial and private schools. One has an institutional religious base that supports it as part of its mission (and proselytizing); the other has a relatively wealthy base of supporters (parents and alumni). The issue is the future of public education--for all, regardless of religious creed, financial resources, family connections. The foundation of the American dream.

  39. 7:50 PM from yesterday.

    Hi Caroline,

    Thanks for your comments about prop 13. I'd say that comprehensive reform to prop 13 would be the way to go. That would include fair changes to residential taxes, not just corporate taxes.

    A parcel tax will fall disproportionately on new homeowners, who are already struggling. Most of these new homeowners are in parts of the city where schools need significant funding increases.

    A parcel tax will not result in the funding increases needed to improve schools in the Mission, Bernal, BVHP and the Excelsior.

    Again, to take that on, comprehensive reform to prop 13 is needed.

  40. I agree with what Caroline at 4:43 said. Interestingly, when I asked her about voters weighing in on the SAS, she made the case that voters don't know enough of student assignment to vote intelligently. Now she's making the opposite case for Prop 13. That despite their lack of knowledge, or because of it, we should put it to the vote. (FYI, I am FOR tax reform for education.)
    Also, the shift to state based funding was in response to equity driven concerns. One poor area would have to tax itself at, in some cases, a hundred times what another would for equal funding. Increasingly, we are going back to parcel taxes to make up for revenue limit shortages. This leads to the same sort of inequity concerns that started this mess to begin with.

    I wonder whether, even in SF, a new parcel tax can pass. People want fundamental reform, not additional add-ons.

  41. A reform allowing a parcel tax to pass with a simple majority (or 55% seems to be the trend, for some reason) would not just be about San Francisco. Prop. 13 is devastating the entire state and communities throughout California.

    Don, I stand by my point (though that's off topic here). No, I don't think the assignment process should be designed by popular vote. But Prop. 13 was created by popular (albeit incredibly wrongheaded, shortsighted, selfish and simplistic) vote, and it can only be dismantled by popular vote.

  42. The funding problems are not just about Prop 13, though that is surely a key issue. The onerous Ed Code that comes along with State funding has much to do with funding inequities. Every multi billion categorical program has its lobby and all this money is used with little real accountability or affect on student achievement. Since some of it was flexed, a reform that the public seems to have little understanding of including Mr. Garcia, we had the chance to put needed resources to work where they were most needed. But the Board failed to heed the Cal State Budget Advisory and now we have large class size increases. That could have been avoided if our commissioners has acted judiciously and expeditiously.

    I agree this meeting is important, but I would liked to have seen the Crystal and the other lady make more of a case for specifics. Just demanding change is not enough. You have to know how things work in Sac and what levers to pull. The categorical lever was given to us for that purpose. Now SFUSD is promoting the town hall meeting, in part, to put the onus on the state, rather than their own mismanagement at SFUSD. Not that many people understand when the Board passed the budget last June, they failed in their fiduciary duty to make the preemptive cuts that would have allowed carry over to save class size. The level of naivite displayed in SF, compared to LA for example, is shocking.

    In the meantime hundreds of millions of dollars of surplus real estate lies idle, money that has also been given great one-time fllexibility for GF purposes.

    People, it is more than just about those greedy corporations.

  43. Ultimately our fiscal problems stem from multiple institutional challenges ranging from taxation to collective bargaining. But in the context of these challenges the districts have to find ways to ameliorate their problems at the local level to whatever extent that is possible. In SFUSD, we failed to act to utilize the flexibilities provided in SB x3_4. That would have gone a long way to control damage to class size. This is a direct result of negligence on the part of the Board and the Administration to heed the warnings.

    I hope the Town Hall doesn't turn into a tar and feathering of the state. The legislature has a portion of the blame, but it isn't that simple.

  44. @5:57pm, you don't have to go down to the assessor's office to find out what others on your block are paying in property tax. It's online right here:

    I bought in 2002, and I pay $7800 a year. My neighbor on one side pays $1600, and on the other side just $600.

    I was in 5th grade here in California the year Prop. 13 hacked away at the school system.

    Hell yes I'd vote for Prop. 13 reform.

  45. We bought our house from a trust. The owner had died years ago, the adult children were renting the place out for about 2500 a month. They were paying $400 per year in property taxes! That's 8 parking tickets. The elderly owner was long DEAD. This is insane. Prop 13 has to go!

  46. We need a new formula that is more fair, but doesn't result in old people having to sell their homes.

    The current formula places an unfair burden on new homeowners, and it's not raising enough money.

    Let's all look up our neighbor's property taxes and get fired up!!

  47. The school board should be asked or forced to justify the specifics of their budget given what they knew would happen when the crisis hit. Even now they pass new spending for new programs (the merits of such programs are irrelevant) right before they approve layoffs. There needs to be accountability somewhere. Certainly the state is largely to blame, but local accountability begins with the board. I hope people will take time to look at their budget specifics and ask directly how they can be justified.

  48. I am not going to pay more property taxes if I don't get to go to the school that is the closest to me.

  49. I am not going to pay more property taxes unless my kid gets a golden ticket away from the school closest to me.

    ;-), j/k

  50. Holly Carver for BOE!! She actually has a past in political service, is smart as a whip and willing to commit. Let's get her to run!!!

  51. Really, 8:17? Isn't that EXACTLY the kind of person everyone says needs to focus their time, emotional investment, political and intellectual influence on public schools??? You make no sense. So now you can only be on the BOE if you live on the south side of town, send your kid to a STAR school, and rent? I think the women that worked their asses off to get this Town Hall on the agenda would be a HUGE asset to any BOE. I certainly hope you are alone in your view.

  52. Well, I always say, let the people decide, but no, I wouldn't vote for her.

  53. I don't know if I would vote for her. I really don't know anything about her. But I certainly wouldn't NOT vote for her because of where she lives, how much her house is worth, or where she sends her kids. That makes no sense!

  54. I couldn't get in the door of the town hall. What a waste of time after spending an hour looking for parking. I hope it was worth the trouble for others.

  55. what were the highlights of the meeting?

  56. The information posted at 8:17pm is public record. Actually, it comes up on a google search. If you are going to promote someone for public office, you can expect full disclosure.

  57. Yes, these parents who suddenly find themselves stirred by politics are really annoying, and entirely naive.
    Until we have a new governor, no more money will go to schools.
    Attending some stupid meeting and preaching to the converted may make you feel all gung-ho, but it won't change a damned thing. Get the republican out of the governor's chair... write to the republicans who would rather pay for prisons than schools. Ammiano, Leno, Yee ... they already know what you are sobbing to them about.

  58. Don't feed the trolls, folks. I think we're under attack.