Why parcel taxes become necessary

Dear Editor,
By throwing my name into a parcel tax discussion, its obvious
Alan Viarengo misses defending his warped reality of public
education and its funding.
Dear Editor,

By throwing my name into a parcel tax discussion, its obvious Alan Viarengo misses defending his warped reality of public education and its funding.

California ranks 44th in public education funding. The Rand Report stated that Californians have the ability to pay more taxes on public education, but have not done so. The federal No Child Left Behind Act has been under-funded by $13 billion dollars the past two years. Federal funding for special education joins NCLB as another federal unfunded mandate with expenses outpacing the cost of living adjustment by factors of four or five.

Local and state funds must pay for these unfunded mandates, thus draining local coffers of much needed revenue to carry out basic organizational operations.

Private industry’s medical insurance price gouging the past five years (12 to 35 percent premium increases per year) has driven more public school districts than ever onto the brink of bankruptcy. California teacher salaries on the average are the highest in the nation, but when compared to the cost of living index for the 50 states, the ranking drops to 26.

In a 2003 study, the Bureau of Labor Statistics used the Occupational Leveling Criteria in its National Compensation Survey of 16 professions requiring similar skills to the teaching profession. The data show teachers earned $116 less per week, or a wage disadvantage of 12.2 percent. Because teachers work more hours per week, the disadvantage increases to 14.1 percent.

Though teachers receive better health benefits and pensions than private sector professions, they receive much less base pay, almost no paid leave, no paid vacations, no wage bonuses and no Social Security.

The governor has reneged on his deal with the Education Coalition leaving school districts short by $3.1 billion next year, and his special election (additional $45 to $80 million cost to counties) proposes to change the constitutional funding for schools so that no school district will be guaranteed an annual base amount for budgeting purposes.

If we used the governor’s proposal and apply it to public school servant Alan Viarengo’s paycheck, it might play something like this: “Well, Alan, though we like the way you teach statistics, with only five students left in your class, we have to cut your paycheck in half starting at 11am this morning. Sorry, it’s the law, and by the way, we hope this doesn’t affect you personally.”

So local communities pass parcel taxes to pay for basic district operational needs, and to provide elective programs dropped by districts in order to remain solvent. What would Viarengo’s solution be to the problems above? Why of course, recall board members, fire the superintendent, cut teacher salaries, provide merit pay, dismiss teachers and blast his motorcycle exhaust in front of the police station.

Dale Morejon, Gilroy

The Golden Quill is awarded occasionally for a well-written letter.

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