How will you know which California proposition to vote for?
There is a lot at stake for our schools in California’s November ballot. But finding a source of information I can trust is really hard. Usually, I’m too busy to do the research necessary and so I rely on voter guides. But not this year.
This time, I’m going to read and analyze the ballot initiatives myself, and I’ll share what I learn with you here because I know you are busy and care about the schools, too.
Why I am doing this guide
I’m tired of constantly fundraising for the schools to fix budget crises. I just spent two exhausting years trying to raise money for my children’s public school district, and despite doing okay with the donations, we were only able to contribute about 0.4% of the budget. Yes, less than half a percent. Those donations were hard-earned drops in a large, leaky budget. After a while, spending ten to fifteen volunteer hours a week fundraising for less than half a percent felt futile, no matter how noble or personal the cause.
This November, voters have an opportunity to make a bigger impact on school budgets than all our gift wrap, cookie dough and car washes could ever have. There are two initiatives on California’s ballot to fund public schools: Proposition 30 (a.k.a. the Governor’s proposal) and Proposition 38 (a.k.a. Molly Munger’s proposal). But which one to pick? What happens if we vote for both? What happens if we vote for neither?
How this guide will differ from others out there
This series of blog posts will examine these propositions from a different perspective than what is in a typical voter guide. Some voter guides take a neutral stance and provide short pros and cons or summaries of what the competing sides say about the propositions. I like that they are letting me make up my own mind, but usually, these guides are so neutral that I don’t actually learn what what I want to know: how does this proposition compare to my values and what I believe? There isn’t always enough detail for me to know.
Other voter guides assume that my support for their political party or organization means I agree with their take on all other issues. I don’t. I have my own brain and my own values. We don’t see everything the same way just because we belong to the same political party.
So, my aim in this upcoming series of blog posts will be to uncover some of the values-based assumptions that are imbedded in the propositions and provide questions that we can ask ourselves and each other to help us get to our own decisions. To me, the process of coming to our decision is just as or even more valuable than the vote itself. These blog posts will be a resource for you in that process.
What sources will be used
I will use the official text of the initiatives. Since I am not a lawyer, only a mere mortal, I will also look at analyses from the Legislative Analysts Office (a nonpartisan government department that provides policy analysis for our state legislators and the public), EdSource (a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that is a clearinghouse of information and data on California education), and the California Budget Project (another nonpartisan nonprofit organization) to help me understand the initiatives better.
My hopes for you
Voting is the crudest form of democracy there is. It collapses a diverse and complicated set of thoughts, feelings, perceptions, attitudes and realities into one either/or decision, aggregates them, and makes everyone live by the result. It might not be so bad if there was widespread, civil discussion that preceded voting, but we hardly have any practice with deliberation or forums for doing it.
I want to bring back a depth and richness of thought and consideration into economic policy, and I want everyone to have the information and skills to be able to participate in it. I hope that by focusing on this one decision we have to make that you will get a taste of this deeper, more substantive, deliberative democracy that I want for us and be inspired to ask the questions and talk about it with others.