Over the past few weeks as voter information guides have been distributed, our private tutors have received questions from concerned parents regarding Prop 51, and what it could potentially mean for our schools. As a private tutoring service, we feel a responsibility to educate the public on important matters relating to education in California. We’ve put together the following information in an effort to help you make an informed decision on the matter.
What is 51 Prop 51?
Proposition 51 would authorize California to issue $9 billion in statewide bonds to address the backlog of school construction projects. $3 billion would be allocated to build new K-12 schools, and another $3 billion would be used to modernize existing K-12 schools. Community college renovations and updated equipment would use another $2 billion, and the remaining $1 billion would be utilized for new facilities for charter schools, as well as career and technical education schools.
The bonds would be sold to investors who are paid back with interest from the government. The bonds would cost $9 billion, and with $8.6 billion in interest would put the total costs for Prop 51 at $17.6 billion. It would take 35 years to pay off completely at a cost of $500 million per year.
What are the arguments in favor of Prop 51?
Supporters argue that many of our schools need new facilities and extensive repairs to bring them up to basic health and safety standards. Repairs would include retrofitting for handicap accessibility and fire and earthquake safety measures, as well as removing asbestos and lead paint and pipes. Building new schools and classrooms would also reduce class sizes and provide better learning opportunities for students.
Advocates for Prop 51 also say that the money allocated for expanding community colleges would mean more opportunities for students and veterans, and upgrading technology in classrooms, libraries and science labs in schools across the state would help our students be more prepared to compete globally. Supporters believe that Prop 51 would also create thousands of construction jobs, and they say the bonds contain taxpayer accountability measures that would ensure that all the money must be spent only on projects approved by local school boards.
What are the arguments against Prop 51?
Opponents of Prop 51 say that it was written and sponsored by the construction industry so it could benefit from the $9 billion worth of taxpayer-supported business, and since over the next decade school enrollment is expected to decline building new schools is not necessary. Further, California already spends $2 billion a year to pay off previous school bonds, so opponents argue that Prop 51 will simply add to the state’s debt.
Additionally, previous school bonds had the backing of the Governor and the legislature, but Governor Brown has called the measure a “blunderbuss,” and said the money would be far better spent in low-income communities. Opponents also say that since these school bonds would be issued and controlled by the state, the money would not be equally distributed and poor schools would lose out on funding they need most. Finally, in the eyes of Governor Brown and other opponents, local school bonds would be better since control over the funds rest exclusively with local school boards and are almost always approved.
As a private tutoring service in San Diego, Alameda County, Los Angeles, and Orange County we believe we have a duty to inform the public about matters that pertain to education. Regardless of which way you vote, we hope that we’ve helped you to make an informed decision.