Count down to the Measure H vote in Alameda

There’s about a dozen Measure H-related letters to the editor in today’s Alameda Journal, many of them very impassioned and most written in support of the parcel tax. Below is an excerpt from a letter by Heather Hildreth. I like it because it focuses on the question of, “How good can our schools be?” Rather than, as some who oppose Measure H have, “What’s the minimum they can get by with?”

Have you ever heard anyone say of their town, that it was “too safe, the streets were too clean and the schools were too good”? I haven’t, so I just shake my head when I read editorials and letters stating that Alameda schools should get by with less then they have now…Until we can say of Alameda that it is better than excellent we still have to work to make it better. We cannot afford to lose ground.

And here’s the Alameda Journal‘s editorial in support of Measure H, “Alameda Measure H needs every vote to make a difference,” which, in case you’ve somehow missed all the basic facts, lays them out very clearly.


  • Mike Schmitz

    Our parents, grandparents, and those that came before them worked, saved, and sacrificed all of their lives to be able to create communities where their children could enjoy a better life, full of opportunity. It is the essence of the American ideal, a belief that tomorrow can be better than today, that the future is worth hoping – and fighting for. And it is, quite simply, why every parent I know is working so hard for passage of Measure H. Thanks for covering this issue so well Eve.

  • Susan Davis

    What a lovely, lovely comment, Mike. I’m going to refer to it often over these next several days of Measure H work — and send my co-volunteers to this blog to take a look!

    Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Rita Nesel

    Most of us do care about the children. And saying no is not about “saving money”, or “not my children”, or any of those other excuses. It’s about civic responsibility to our community as a whole and about demanding that our elected, appointed and hired leaders do their jobs.

    AUSD has failed at this twice before. Some of us are willing to take the heat and say “NO MORE” … do it right THIS time; and also willing, in the meantime, to help guarantee that the kids don’t pay the price while we hold AUSD’s feet to the fire. It means taking time and effort, rather than just writing a check.

    Voting “NO” on Prop H does not mean you don’t care about Alameda’s children.
    It means you don’t like the solution AUSD has given us. It means you consider education too important to keep using band-aids instead of curing the illness

    The Alameda School Board (AUSD) has broken faith with the Alameda community by asking for an “emergency” parcel tax which represents a grossly unfair, inefficient form of taxation. This time, they hurt some community businesses, too.

    AUSD marketed their admittedly far-from-perfect Prop H as the “best they could do.”
    Then they asked dedicated, committed parents to “sell” Prop H as the only possible solution.

    The numbers tell a different story. They have a new budget, without most of the threatened cuts.
    The city’s children will NOT suffer next school year (2008-2009) if AUSD takes the time to do it right for the November ballot.

    AUSD has had seven years, and a second “emergency” tax, since the first “emergency” in 2001. If that’s not enough time to craft an equitable, long term solution, do you really think they’ll do it this time?

    The schools do have a funding problem. Our children need a long-term solution. AUSD says we need a long-term solution. The parents say we need a long-term solution. Why does AUSD want another temporary one? For now, a parcel tax is the answer. But not THIS parcel tax.

    VOTE “NO” on PROP H.
    Tell AUSD to bring us a REAL Solution in November.

    Some facts you may not know:
    (From AUSD May 27th Board Report http://www.mikemcmahon.info/boe_meeting052708.htm)

    1. The Governor’s budget provides “level funding” for students and special education; this means, AUSD will get the same funding per student as this year (but no raise, called “COLA”)

    2. The Governor relaxed rules to allow AUSD maximum flexibility in moving money from one account to another to make the budget work.

    3. AUSD’s current budget (2007-8) predicts a year-end positive balance of $4,657,141.
    ……..Of that, $2,688,722 is specifically for “economic uncertainties”.

    4. AUSD’s budget for 2008-9 predicts a year-end balance of $3,105,743.
    ……..Of that, $908,767 is specifically for “economic uncertainties.
    (these figures include money from the current parcel tax, but nothing from the proposed Prop H)

    5. Many of the “possible cuts” are already “saved” including 3rd grade class size reductions and teacher layoffs.
    It appears generous donations have guaranteed keeping school sports. Community fundraising is helping music and others.

    Note: This is the opinion of one ordinary individual who went on-line last week, just out of curiousity about why the Prop H campaign was still using the $4.5 million dollar number after the Governor changed his budget. Any questions, I’ll try to answer them. Thanks for reading this. Rita Nesel (missran@alamedanet.net)

  • Eve

    Hi, Rita. Funny to see your comment here on a post focusing on the idea that maybe aiming for ‘good enough’ isn’t the way to go–rather we ought to focus on ‘how good can it be?': How can AUSD strive to meet the needs of its diverse student body in better and better ways? I am a firm believer that there is no limit to excellence. No limit to achievement. I also take exception to your suggestion that we shouldn’t go for the band aid because the whole school funding system is hurting. To me that’s like saying don’t poke your hole in the dike if its leaking but just sit there waiting–la, la, la—until (if ever) someone gets around to redoing the whole dike. The fact of the matter is that education funding in California, and more particularly in Alameda, is messed up, but saying we as a city shouldn’t do what we can do to help the schools here and now is just plain silly. Vote yes on H–and then get out and lobby for an overhaul of No Child Left Behind and state funding policies.

  • Susan Davis

    Rita, your research into state funding mechanisms is impressive. But you’re failing to mention one crucial fact: The governor’s “May Revise” is just a proposal. It is no more the “final budget” than his January proposal was. As such, his numbers don’t mean all that much at this point.

    Public education might get more funding in the final budget. And public education might end up with less. The point is, nobody knows what the final budget will be. In fact, given the uproar over the state budget this year, the only thing we really do know is that the final numbers will be different than what we’re looking at now. Right? We’re still in the proposal stage, after all, and that’s a very political process.

    I sure don’t want to gamble on my kids’ educations by assuming that a) the final budget will provide AUSD with adequate funding; or b) if it doesn’t, Alamedans will be willing or able to pass a different parcel tax in November.

    I strongly disagree with your belief that the May revise leaves public education in good shape for next year; every analyst I’ve heard (including the district’s CFO, the California Majority Report, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell, and the Legislative Analyst’s Office) says it leaves districts in very bad shape.

    But even if the current proposal was a good one (and again, I believe it is NOT), no one is predicting that the state budget will improve over the next four years.
    So let’s give the district some insurance against the dramatic roller coaster ride of state funding for the next four years. And let’s give our kids some stability in their educational experience.

    Vote Yes on Measure H.

  • Joseph Coolidge

    Right on Rita. Now that Measure H has failed and is in the toilet and flushed back where it belongs, lets watch the school district magically find the money they claimed they so desperately needed. I have two school age kids and see plenty of fat in the school budget. I am also getting tired of that old saw, “we will cancel athletics” if we don’t get a parcel tax. Lets start firing elected officials for not getting our piece of the pie from Sacramento. Lets reduce the tooth to tail ratio of admin to teachers, and lets get real. We have some of the finest schools in the state, and according to Newsweek, in the nation. Half of this island is renting and they need to pony up for schools as well. Good riddance to Measure H, now lets get real, and pass a fair and smart way to fund schools in time for the November ballot.

  • Gwendolyn

    It’s a shame that a majority can vote in favor of something so important and have it over turned by a stingy minority who don’t seem to realize the measly $120 dollars a year is nothing compared to the increased value of their property due to their proximity to good schools. I’m sure those people who voted against it waste more money on coffee and donuts than they’d spend on the measure. In the meantime, they’ve wasted an opportunity to ultimately improve their community and substantiate their property values for what would have been very little personal cost. I don’t see from their agruments that they do care about the schools, the kids, or their community. Rack up one small achievement for the small minded… I hope they’re proud of their miserly win.