Repair our rundown schools: YES on Prop 51

Proposition 51 will improve education and create good, union jobs

It’s been a decade since California passed our last statewide school bond to repair and upgrade our public schools. That’s 10 years of students from kindergarten to college attempting to learn in schools crumbling around them. Libraries, science labs, classrooms – you name it – California schools are in dire need of an upgrade.

Studies show that learning environments matter and impact students in a variety of ways. Students need safe spaces to learn and deserve to go to school every day in buildings that have been improved to be most conducive to learning. California can be the gold standard of education in our country, but we’re not going to get there with broken down computers, deteriorating ceilings, and air conditioners that break down when school starts in simmering August.  Many children are going to school every day in classrooms with serious asbestos and lead paint concerns and in buildings that are still waiting on earthquake retrofitting.

Proposition 51 is the answer. The school bond proposal will provide $9 billion to build new schools and repair and upgrade existing K-12 schools and community colleges. It breaks down to:

  • $3 billion for modernization of existing schools
  • $3 billion for new school construction
  • $2 billion to build new community colleges and renovating existing ones
  • $500 million for charter schools facilities
  • $500 million for career and technical education facilities.

This plan will relieve overcrowding in California classrooms and bring our schools up to basic health and safety standards (including earthquake retrofitting, removal of lead paint and asbestos, and updating smoke and fire alarms). Modernization will also include upgraded science labs and libraries, necessities for our children to compete in the global economy. It will also create good union construction jobs across the state. Plans to improve vocational schools will also mean room for more students and veterans to learn new skills for jobs with wages that can sustain families.

Proposition 51 is as commonsense as it is necessary. Without it, project proposals to improve and build new schools will continue to go ignored. This week, George Skelton reported in the LA Times:

Right now, there’s virtually no state money for any school facilities. And there’s a big backlog of projects that need funding.

Unless the state kitty is soon replenished, some projects will be scrapped. Others will be bankrolled by greatly jacking up developer fees on new housing. That, in turn, will escalate the cost of new houses in a state where home buying is increasingly unaffordable for many.

Teachers, firefighters and nurses all support Proposition and the California Labor Federation strongly recommends a YES vote. In order for California to provide the best future for our children we have to invest in their education, plain and simple.

For a full list of California Labor’s 2016 endorsements, visit our Endorsements page here. 

This is the second installment of California Labor’s Top Props, a blog series on priority propositions for working Californians. Click here to see other posts in the series.