Three Yes, Three No, and Two Props to Ponder

There are eight propositions on the Nov. 8 ballot, all placed by
initiative. Three of them are easy to vote yes on. I need to study
two further. And three are slam-dunk nays.
There are eight propositions on the Nov. 8 ballot, all placed by initiative. Three of them are easy to vote yes on. I need to study two further. And three are slam-dunk nays.

Prop 73 would require that parents be notified before an abortion was performed on their minor daughter. I suppose somewhere there might be a parent who would rather not know if their 17, 16, 15, 14, or 13-year old daughter were about to undergo an invasive medical procedure. Ostriches exist.

Most of us would rather know the truth, even if we had no say in the decision. We would want to help our daughters, and be on the alert for infection and emotional trauma.

Moreover, statistics show that two-thirds of pregnant teenaged girls were knocked up by adult men. These pregnancies are prima facie evidence of crimes, sometimes as mild as statutory rape, sometimes actual rape or sexual abuse. But when a girl procures a secret abortion, the abortion clinic does not report the crime, and the girl remains vulnerable to continued abuse.

Prop 74 would increase the time a new teacher spends on probationary status from two years to five, and would make it possible to fire a permanent status teacher after two years of bad performance reviews.

Our local teachers’ union hack, Michelle Nelson, is opposed. She points out that teachers accept what she calls low wages in return for job security.

I can think of three good local reasons to vote for Prop 74.

Reason number 1: Joanne Lewis. When Brownell teacher Joanne Lewis released pre-test tension in her class of 11-year-olds by reading them sexually explicit “humorous” poems, district head of Human Resources Linda Piceno told us it would take two years and $50,000 to fire her, as she had permanent status. If Prop 74 passes, it would only take another bad performance review.

Reason number 2: Kimberly Lemos. Former Gilroy High principal Bob Bravo elected not to re-hire English teacher Kim Lemos because she was “not a good fit'” in spite of the fact that she was achieving near-miraculous results on getting her students to pass the state exit exam. If he had had four and a half years to make up his mind, instead of a mere one year eight months, he might have been able to discern that she was a teacher worth keeping.

Reason number 3: Ahem. Contrariwise, let us assume that a certain math teacher really hits it off with the principal: kindred spirits. The first year, the math teacher’s students’ standardized test scores are abysmal, but the teacher says that he just got here.

The second year they are worse, but the teacher claims that SAT scores are not statistically valid. Under current law, the chance to not re-hire him has now expired. But surely if scores continued to sink for another two and a half years, and not just SAT scores but proficiency and AP scores as well, it would at some point become apparent to the meanest understanding that this math teacher was incompetent?

Prop 75 would require that government employee unions get written permission from a member before they use any part of his union dues for political purposes. That seems fair to me. If I were a government employee, I might want to be a union member, to pay dues for the teams that negotiate for my wages and working conditions, but I am utterly sure that I would want to handpick the candidates and issues that get my campaign contributions.

I have my doubts about Props 76 and 77. Prop 76 is yet another spending limitation bill. We keep passing them. The state keeps spending. I will probably vote yes, but I do not expect any improvement. Prop 77 aims to stop gerrymandering (a laudable goal) by letting retired judges draw the congressional district lines (a dubious means). I need to study it further.

Props 78, 79, and 80 get my no vote. All cost taxpayer dollars and create bureaucracies in a state teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. And I just don’t believe that the government can do anything better than the private sector, aside from war and peace. Maybe just war.

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