November Election Just the First Step
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Reprinted from the December 2012 SF Educator
On Election Night the first two million votes came in and Proposition 30 was going down. A sober quiet filled campaign headquarters following the initial count. After our best San Francisco Labor and community effort, with hundreds of UESF volunteer shifts, we were about to experience a devastating existential defeat for our schools and our union. And then when San Francisco votes came pouring in, joining urban and coastal California, campaign headquarters went all smiles.
Most satisfying, when all the votes were counted, San Francisco led the state with 77.16% of the vote for Proposition 30. Our hard work paid off. Just as important was our work with community groups like ACCE and the Chinese Progressive Association knocking on doors and making the phone calls in poor and working class neighborhoods.
UESF was a central figure in the passage of Prop 30. Working with the CFT, we drove the San Francisco campaign of the Millionaires Tax petition drive. That effort forced Jerry Brown to compromise on his original tax proposal. The result was Prop. 30 – the most progressive state income tax initiative passed in decades.
We were also right there helping CTA to organize and implement the most robust ground operation in their history. With a proposal supported by UESF leadership, CTA cancelled its October 20-21 State Council meetings, sending hundreds of union educators knocking on doors statewide for a big weekend push.
Winning Prop. 30 was a great success, but it was just the beginning. It sets a floor, not a ceiling for the funding our students deserve. According to Education Week, California is still 47th in the nation in per pupil spending at just $8,667, well below the national average of $11,665.
Let’s face it – being behind the national average in per pupil spending by $3,000 is a disgrace. Class sizes have skyrocketed, vital supports and programs have been cut to the bone, and we’ve all had to make great sacrifices just to stop the layoffs. Now, SFUSD claims it can’t even provide resources so our high school students can meet the A-G requirements and graduate. Clearly we have a lot of work to do.
The passage of Prop. 30 was a landmark political event, demonstrating to the nation that fair taxation in support of public education and vital services has widespread support. Now, with a Democratic governor and two-thirds majorities in the state Assembly and Senate, we have the opportunity to move beyond a fiscal band-aid and transform how our state raises revenue.
Already Assemblyman Tom Ammiano has proposed to close Prop. 13 tax loopholes for commercial property owners when property is transferred. Phil Ting, newly elected to the Assembly with UESF help, brings his Close the Loophole campaign to Sacramento. His “split roll” plan protects homeowners while allowing fair reassessments for commercial property.
But it will take a sustained grassroots effort to make sure that the super majority in the state legislature implements such a progressive agenda for our schools and our state.
On December 1st we spent an afternoon with CFT President Josh Pechthalt and political organizers from CFT locals around the state. We talked about the next steps to winning educational funding justice. Josh proposed we look at our November victory and build on two lessons:
1. Direct member-to-member organizing is the key to building campaigns that win the broader electorate to our cause.
2. Educators and labor win when we build broad community alliances.
This past election UESF/COPE was a leader on this path to education justice. We visited every school site. Our volunteer shift count approached 500. We worked alongside Jobs with Justice, ACCE, Chinese Progressive Association, and many other community groups.
This mass mobilization, and our statewide success in getting Prop. 30 passed, was made possible by the success of our UESF/COPE program, and the 646 members of Super COPE. Digging deep and contributing $5 to $10 and more per month, these members provide the resources we need to win a progressive agenda.
UESF/COPE can get us there. Prop 30 is law. Prop 32 went down to defeat. Friends like Ammiano, Leno, and Ting are ready to lead the two-thirds majority in Sacramento and we are ready to go to the ballot and make sure California’s public schools are again the envy of the nation.
There is a sea change in public opinion. The November election results demonstrate that we can win full funding for our schools and real education reform. Now is not the time to rest on our laurels. Now is the time to implement the progressive agenda we’ve all been hoping for.
By Ken Tray, UESF Political Director. Contact Ken at ktray [at] uesf [dot] org.
Thanks to everyone who helped pass Prop. 30, defeat Prop. 32, and get Matt Haney elected to the SF School Board
November 7, 2012
Thanks to all of the UESF members who came out to staff hundreds of shifts at phone banks and precinct walks this election. Your efforts, along with other educators and school supporters statewide, led to an impressive victory for Prop. 30 and to a stunning defeat for Prop. 32.
We can rejoice today that California voters saw through the lies and deceit of shadowy out of state interests, supporting Prop. 30 by 54% and voting down Prop. 32 with a 56% no vote. Because of your volunteer efforts here in San Francisco the voters responded in even more overwhelming numbers, with 76.8% voting yes on Prop. 30 and 72.2% voting no on Prop. 32. We also provided much needed support for Proposition A in San Francisco, which got 72.5% of the vote, and will raise essential funds for our cash strapped city college.
We are also very pleased to welcome Matt Haney as the newest member of the San Francisco School Board. Matt has been a strong advocate for students throughout his career as the Executive Director of the UC Students Association. He has pledged to work closely with UESF members to fully support our students, and to listen closely to educators’ concerns about the direction our district is headed.
Thanks to Cleveland Elementary teacher Sunny Dawn, Milk Elementary teacher Aaron Hall, and former UESF Executive Vice-President Linda Plack, who spent weeks out in the schools educating UESF members about what was at stake in the election. Their efforts ensured that no stone was left unturned before November 6th.
And, of course, special thanks to UESF Political Director Ken Tray, who once again led UESF’s election efforts this year. Ken’s tireless work not only made a difference in our schools, but for progressive candidates for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, including a decisive win for District 1 Supervisor Eric Mar, and a possible win for FX Crowley in District 7.