By Brian W. Carter, Contributing Writer
Originally Published May 30, 2019
“We can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results,” said Alicia Montgomery, executive director of Center for Powerful Public Schools. “Our schools have been underfunded for so long and it’s really an amazing thing to see a community come out and put their vote on the line to turn things around.”
Families, civil rights and labor leaders gathered for a press conference on Wednesday, May 29 at Belmont High School to urge voters to vote YES on Measure EE.
“We are critically underfunded within our school system,” said Marisa C., a teacher at a local public school in Los Angeles. “Los Angeles has a high percentage of wealthy people in it and the fact that our public schools are always scrounging and trying to gather cash together for just essentials like pencils, notebooks, paper and technology is just a shame.”
Parents, educators and local community groups voiced their support of the measure which included Families In Schools, Alliance for a Better Community, Inner City Struggle, Center for Powerful Public Schools, Communities for Los Angeles Student Success, Educators for Excellence, MALDEF, Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, Promesa Boyle Heights, Proyecto at Dolores Mission and Teach Plus.
According to some sources, The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce are protecting corporate interests over student interests by opposing Measure EE that would bring more than half a billion dollars to Los Angeles Unified public schools. If Measure EE fails, L.A. Unified could face staff layoffs and school closures.
“California is the largest economy in our country, it is the tenth largest economy in the world and we are [#41] in per pupil spending,” said Shamya Ullah, board chair for Families In Schools. “I think that is just unacceptable and we lack so greatly in public education.”
Ullah continued, “We have to do better and the way to do better is to increase resources towards our children. We need to lower the sizes of the classroom, the teacher-to-student ratio, the number of counselors, the number of nurses needs to increase and I think [Measure EE] is the way to do it.”
The urgent need for new revenues for public education makes Measure EE, a parcel tax based on square footage, on the June 4, 2019 ballot. California ranks among the bottom 10 states in per-pupil spending. The systematic underfunding of schools diminishes the opportunity for all students to succeed in advancing towards college, careers, and life goals.
The passage of Measure EE can reduce class sizes across L.A. Unified, place a full-time nurse at every school, hire more college counselors, increase library services, and hire and retain excellent teachers. The congregation at Belmont High Schools urged all voters to go to the polls on June 4 and vote YES on Measure EE.
“It’s really about getting out the vote and voting yes so that our schools can have the funds they need to get better teachers,” said Montgomery.
“There’s a teacher shortage, so with a teacher shortage, you have to be able to attract the best of what’s available and L.A. won’t be able to do that if they don’t have the funds.
“Class size reduction, of course, is really important but our kids—it’s about our kids and really having a better future for our kids.”
According to Ballotpedia.org, Measure EE has the support of L.A. Mayor, Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles Unified School District nurse, Susan Domingo, 2018 California Teacher of the Year, Kirsten Farrell, past president, Council of Black Administrators, and director of Los Angeles Unified Division of Instruction, Andre Spicer and California State University, Northridge president, Dianne F. Harrison.
It has also been endorsed by 2020 presidential candidates, Sen. Kamala Harris (D), Pete Buttigieg (D) and the Los Angeles County Democratic Party.
For more info on Measure EE, visit Ballotpedia.org.