More frightening than the Halloween haunted house at Hillsides is that we are just a week away from going to the polls. And aside from the presidential election, Californians are being asked to remedy the woefully underfunded public education system by choosing between two propositions, each flawed in many ways.
Once again California’s children are held hostage by the political maneuvering of both sides and the voter is asked to play “Solomon.” The reality is that the state budget in part has been balanced by sacrificing public education at all levels. The result is poor families and their children are disproportionately affected by these cuts. School systems throughout the state are burden to provide more with less, stifling efforts to provide an education for those who are most dependent on the system. Add to this the imperative to address the needs of students with learning challenges and the result is an overburdened system left to manage with little resources and very poor options.
Why is it that, once again, education and social services programs are the target of budget balancing efforts? I suggest it is because it is easy to dismiss those, who for any number of reasons, do not vote. There are more powerful forces at play that inevitably prevail. In spite of all the rhetoric that expresses support for our children, their education and the need to maintain a “safety net” for the poor, it is precisely the most vulnerable that are first to feel the impact of budget cuts.
There are no easy solutions and, unfortunately, only poor choices. Additional funding is not necessarily the solution and increasing deficits are a path to ruin. More than anything else what is needed is political resolve to set priorities that take into account not only our fiscal constraints, but also the needs of the most vulnerable while offering a sustainable pathway to opportunity for all people.
Intelligent and good people will differ on which direction to take. I hope at some point victors and losers can put aside the partisanship and commit to what is best for our nation and society. But this will take extraordinary courage.
I wouldn’t dare to suggest any candidate or ballot initiative over an other. My only plea is that you vote one way or another, in spite of the difficult choices. As you do keep in mind those who do not vote, whose voices are easily drowned out and are never-the-less affected by your ballot choices.