State PTA Legislation Conference: Speak Out, Speak Up!


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Thanks!

A huge thank you to the councils and units participating in the two-day 2014 Legislation Conference in Sacramento!  Twelve fantastic Sixth District PTA representatives joined a couple hundred other advocates at the 2014 Conference.We encourage all councils and units to add the Legislation Conference as a line-item expense in your annual PTA budget.

Strong advocates make strong schools!! PTA leadership repeatedly urged us to “Speak out, Speak up” for our children. Tell your story, share your vision for your child’s education. Link your priorities to a story.

LCAP

Every school district is to have a Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) by July 2014, implementing the new school funding formula – the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF).  Check in NOW with your school district to understand their envisioned compliance with the statutory required parent advisory committee.

LCAP “roadmap”: (1) the school district drafts a plan, (2) the plan is presented to parent groups, and receives feedback, (3) the school district responds to the feedback from parent advisory groups and individual parents, and (4) July 2014 there is a plan

The two key state legislative PTA priorities for 2014:

  • Adequate education funding is a key state challenge that deserves a long-term solution
  • Early childhood education: a high return on investment

School Funding

CA schools need about $25- $30 billion to reach the per student funding of top performing states.  While CA hopes to spend $9,000 per student next year, top performing states spend $16,000 – $22,000 per student.

One funding proposal is to a CA constitutional amendment (via a 2016 ballot initiative) to permit local school districts to raise funds for their schools.  This is how CA schools received their funds before Prop. 13 passed, and how the top performing education states fund their schools. CA would then backfill to address any inequitable fundings between school districts.

Other proposals discussed included:

  • Oil severance tax.  Senator Leno reminded conference attendees that “Oil is a natural resource.  It belongs to all of us.  Private entities are taking it for their own profit, returning nothing for our collective benefit.”  In 21 of 22 states – all states where oil is extracted except California – the states collect an oil severance tax.
  • Vehicle License Fee.  CA had one for fifty years, but it remains difficult to pass one now.
  • Restore Commercial property taxes.  Huge conglomerates pay 1% tax rate on commercial properties still assessed at 1976 rates.  As a result, homeowners now bear 2/3 the property tax burden, and our schools are forced to rely on volatile sales and income taxes, when the school’s needs are for a consistent revenue source such as our missing commercial property taxes could add.  The idea is to regularly re-assess commercial property.  Most states assess commercial property every 1 to 5 years.

Investing in early childhood/pre-school

A recent Stanford research study shows by age five, low income children are two years behind in language development.  A First-Five speaker stated that the wisest investment is in the early years.  Early investment means less drop-outs, and less special education.  Every $1 spent saves $7 later.  As she noted, “LCFF addresses the achievement gap.  Early education investment prevents the achievement gap.”

Asm. Weber added:

“The persistent achievement gap feeds our prison system, social justice system, poverty among  women.  People who go to preschool generally don’t go to prison.”

The greatest obstacle to early childhood education is funding.  There is a consensus on quality early childhood education, but a lack of funding.