With a million and one things swirling around in a student’s mind, upcoming ballot measures admittedly do not always make the cut. But they should. Especially one: Proposition 30.
Prop. 30 is all about California education — it will not only prevent a possible $6 billion in cuts to public schools and colleges, but it will also provide billions of dollars in public funding that schools at all levels desperately need. The measure will do so by increasing the personal income tax of higher earning Californians by 1 to 3 percent for seven years. It will also up the state sales tax by 0.25 percent for the next four years.
Though USC, as a private university, and its students will not be directly affected by Prop. 30, what’s important is the principle at hand of supporting and improving our state education system. Private school students, faculty members and administrators are not separate from the problems in California public education. If USC students recognize that, we are uniquely positioned with not only the skills, but also the resources to launch a wave of awareness and action to propagate educational reform come election day on Nov. 6.
If Prop. 30 fails, the UC system will receive an immediate $250 million mid-year cut (translation: up to a $2,400 mid-year tuition increase for students), not to mention the loss of a $125 million tuition payback and a budget increase for the 2013-14 school year of $150 million. This comes out to a grand total of nearly $525 million, which means class cuts, spiking tuition rates, layoffs and innumerable students left with debt and without the high-quality education California owes them.
For the community college system, Prop. 30’s failure would result in a 7.5 percent budget cut. Thomas Fallo, president of El Camino College in Torrance, Calif. was quoted in his community college’s newspaper that class availability would be the first to go. Santa Monica College, a community college that many USC students transfer from, has already cut the entire winter session in response to funding cuts that were previously imposed. What will happen to SMC if Prop. 30 fails to pass in November?
Admittedly, it’s not a private university’s responsibility to fix the public school system. But are we really immune to these catastrophic changes just because we’re lucky enough to attend a private university? What about those of us who transferred from a UC school or used a state community college as a stepping stone to get to USC? What about the countless personal and academic connections between public and private colleges of which we are a part?
Students have to take a stand for these connections and for education by supporting Prop. 30.
Not to mention, Prop. 30 also impacts all students, whether public or private, by guaranteeing local public safety funding. Part of this funding keeps police on the streets to protect us, something USC students should especially appreciate. Prop. 30 also helps to balance the state budget, providing money that would ease the current debt crisis.
Unfortunately, according to a Policy Analysis for California Education and USC Rossier School of Education poll released in August, only 55 percent of voting Californians — a slim majority over the 50 percent needed to pass the measure — are in favor of the proposition. The poll also found that 36 percent strongly oppose Prop. 30, and 49 percent agree with the argument against it — that the state should crack down on government spending before it raises taxes.
A group of students from the Claremont Colleges — all private institutions — launched a campaign in August called “Claremont College Students for Proposition 30,” complete with a Facebook page, info sessions, phone banking and more. They recognize that Prop. 30 needs everyone’s support, whether they’re a member of the public education system or not.
USC portrays itself and its students as trendsetting, as compassionate and committed to education. Let’s keep that image a reality by creating our own campaign — whether it’s a personal or group effort — for Prop. 30.
Elena Kadvany is a senior majoring in Spanish. Her column “Beyond the Classroom” runs every other Thursday.