Earlier this year, the secretary of state’s office gave sponsors of six proposed education-related ballot measures the go-ahead to collect the 505,000 signatures each needed to appear on the November
Those that fell by the wayside are two proposals that would have rewritten teacher dismissal and evaluations statutes, two that would have imposed hiring restrictions and new disclosure requirements for charter school operators and two that would have given school districts added financial protections from the Legislature.
The one ballot measure that voters will see is Proposition 44, Gov. Jerry Brown’s revisions to the rainy day fund, which sets up a separate reserve for money from Proposition 98, the primary source of state funding for K-12 districts and community colleges. Still awaiting Brown’s OK is a school construction bond measure, which would total between $2 billion and $9 billion to fund building renovations and construction for K-12 schools, community colleges, the University of California and California State University. Brown is determined to reduce the state’s load of debt and wants to minimize
the amounts of new bonds. He is negotiating with legislative leaders over his first priority, a water bond to build new dams and pay for water conservation efforts. Its size may determine whether the governor consents to put a school construction bond before voters.
The one ballot measure that voters will see is Proposition 44, Gov. Jerry Brown’s revisions to the rainy day fund, which sets up a separate reserve for money from Proposition 98, the primary source of state funding for K-12 districts and community colleges .
The proposed initiatives didn’t qualify for the ballot because sponsors withdrew their measures or didn’t submit the required signatures. The measures included plans to:
- Make it easier to fire teachers accused of sexually assaulting children and other egregious forms of misconduct. Bill Lucia, CEO of the advocacy group EdVoice, the initiative’s sponsor, agreed not to pursue the measure if the Legislature passed a bill achieving the same purpose. It did, and Brown signed Assembly Bill 215 into law last month.
- Rewrite the law on teacher evaluations to require annual evaluations using student progress on test scores for at least one-third of a teacher’s rating, and to use these evaluations, not a teacher’s length of service or seniority, as the basis for determining layoffs. Consultant Matt David, affiliated with the national advocacy group StudentsFirst, created by former Washington, D.C., schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, didn’t launch a signature drive for the proposed initiative.
- Prohibit low-performing charter schools from hiring intern teachers, who lack a teaching credential, and administrators who lack an administrative credential. This measure was sponsored by the California Teachers Association, which would have had to fund it. Karen Getman, a Sacramento attorney listed as the contact for the proposal, declined to say why the group did not collect petition signatures.
- Ban for-profit charter schools, extend the state’s open meeting law to charter schools and increase disclosure for potential conflicts of interest involving current and former charter board members. Getman also was listed as the contact for this initiative. Claudia Briggs, spokeswoman for the California Teachers Association, confirmed that CTA decided to pursue many of the aims of the initiative through Assembly Bill 913 and so withdrew the ballot measure. The California School Boards Association is co-sponsoring the bill, which is now awaiting action by the state Senate. The California Charter Schools Association opposes the bill.
- Return about $7 billion in property taxes to schools districts that the Legislature shifted to cities and counties in 2004 and prevent similar moves in the future through a constitutional amendment. Sponsored by the San Francisco-based parents organization Educate Our State, the initiative would have undone a complex series of financial moves that gave counties and cities access to school district property taxes to make up for the revenue loss when former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger reduced the vehicle license fee. The swap made school districts more dependent on state revenue. Educate Our State was unable to gather enough signatures through volunteer efforts or persuade the Legislature to make the changes, said Katherine Welch, who chairs the organization. If donors step forward to fund the petition drive, Educate Our State may try again in 2016, she said.
- Make it more difficult for the Legislature to issue late payments to school districts by requiring a three-quarters vote of the Legislature before it can push a payment date beyond 30 days after the due date. Over four years, starting in 2007-08, payments to school districts that were put off to the next fiscal year grew to nearly $10 billion, about a third of what the state owed districts. By the end of this fiscal year, Brown will have whittled that down to about $1 billion, with plans to eliminate the remainder if there is additional revenue this year. This ballot measure would have forced the state to repay it in full by July 1, 2015 and discouraged the state from making deferrals in the future. The organization Fund Cal Schools, based in Cool, Calif., sponsored the ballot measure and failed to submit enough signatures by the May deadline.
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