By Lisa Schiff
My daughter came home from school the other day frustrated and angry. She had been excited the evening before because she'd learned that having finished The Odyssey her ninth-grade English class was now going to tackle Beowolf. We discussed the different translations and decided to compare the version we had at home with the one her class was going to read once she got the book. The next night she handed me, with a gesture of disgust, a used double-sided photocopy of the classic; no "real" book, just a set of rather worn stapled pages.
By Steve Hochstadt
In May, Mitt Romney told an audience of big donors in Florida that 47 percent of Americans would vote for President Obama because they pay no income tax, are dependent on government, believe they are victims, and feel “entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.”
Romney said these people are hopeless: “I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
When a video of this speech was made public in September, Romney stood by his remarks. After he lost the election, he repeated this claim by attributing his defeat to the big “gifts” that Democrats had given and promised to “the African-American community, the Hispanic community and young people.”
By Dan Aiello
In the wake of California's election last month where voters passed two propositions aimed at reducing the number of inmates in California's overcrowded prison system, the State Assembly's Safety Committee Chair says he will introduce major prison reform this session targeting a correctional system failure rate that persists as the highest recidivism rate in the nation.
"With voters approving both propositions 30 and 36, I believe we are in a position to achieve significant prison reform to reduce our failure rate and begin decreasing our prison population," San Francisco Democrat Assembly member Tom Ammiano told the California Progress Report recently.
By Anthony Wright
Yesterday, a new California legislature got sworn in for the 2013-14 legislative session, with new members, new margins, and a renewed mission to implement health reform and improve health care in general.
Both Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John A. Perez mentioned health issues in their opening remarks after being formally re-elected to their leadership posts.
In talking about the budget, Senator Steinberg specifically highlighted the cut of dental coverage in Medi-Cal as a major cut that was made in bleaker budget days, and one he will work to restore. He recalled going to a free dental clinic at Cal Expo, and seeing endless lines of people (mostly working families) requiring root canals and dental surgery, who had put off basic care for years.
By Lisa Schiff
Re-electing President Obama may have felt like a huge accomplishment, but it was really just the beginning of the work to come. With the rather low-key confirmation that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will be continuing on into the second term, the President gave the clear signal that federal education policies and strategies will remain essentially the same, meaning a continued emphasis on competitive grants, further support for privatization via charter schools, and a focus on formulaic assessment of students, teachers and the overall quality and outcomes of our educational system. Arne Duncan was a troubling choice from the outset and his actions as Secretary proved those worries to be well-founded. In other words, we have nothing to be excited about and much to be gravely concerned over.
By Lisa Schiff
California's public education community has been breathing sighs of relief following the results of last week's voting extravaganza. Not even considering the historic re-election of President Barak Obama and the related repudiation of the Republican Party's effort to further restrict our civic and social rights, the results for California were immense. For our public schools, the most critical result was the passage of Proposition 30, which through leveraging a sales tax increase and raising income taxes on the wealthy will raise revenues to the General Fund and stop the automatic budget cuts to all levels of public education that were set to be enacted come January if Proposition 30 had not passed.
By Robert Cruickshank
Democratic control of the California State Legislature is nothing new. Since 1970 Democrats have dominated the Capitol, with Republicans having only a narrow majority in the Assembly for a short 2-year period in the 1990s and never having control of the Senate in that time. But since 1978, Democratic majorities have been essentially meaningless. Proposition 13 required a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to raise taxes, a conservative attempt to seize power they had failed to win at the ballot box. In November 2012, Democrats finally won the two-thirds majority in the Legislature that had been so close in recent years.
By Rev. Jim Conn
My mail delivery guy just got happier. He can finish his route while it is still light outside - this despite the change back from daylight savings time. Now he gets his work done in daylight: With the election over, he has less junk to deliver.
I don't know how it was in your neighborhood, but in my apartment building the stuff filled the box every day for a month, and in the last week, so much mail rolled in that it couldn't fit anymore. So my mail carrier patiently sorted it into clumps and placed it in the magazine space at the bottom of the mailbox area.
By Steve Smith
As the election results came in late Tuesday night, it became abundantly clear that the handful of billionaires and CEOs who sought to silence our voice were in for a rude awakening. Their deceptive measure, Prop 32, didn't just fail, it tanked - by a 12-point margin.
By Robert Cruickshank
Tuesday's vote to pass Prop 30 - by a larger margin than most observers expected - does more than just provide $6 billion of badly needed funding to the state's public schools. It brings to a close a 34-year long tax revolt that came very close to destroying California's middle class, locking its low income families into permanent poverty, and left the state on the edge of financial ruin. And while there is still a lot of work ahead to overturn the legal and constitutional legacies of the tax revolt, it no longer has political power. That in turn means the California Republican Party, and the California conservative movement, are as dead as Monty Python's parrot.