Tom Butt
  E-Mail Forum – 2016  
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  Supporting Pam Mirabella and Measure T
October 22, 2016

Pam Mirabella asked me to share this. I am supporting Pam for reelection to the Contra Costa County Board of Education as well as WCCUSD Measure T.

Campbell~Governmental Access

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Politically Speaking
Assembly member, 11th District, retired

Vol V-1

The case for Pamela Mirabella’s reelection to The Contra Costa County Board of Education and a vote for West Contra Costa County tax Measure T.

                I haven’t written about a local issue in some time, but I believe this is the time to give the reading public some reason for voting to return Pamela Mirabella to the Contra Costa County Board of Education and to support the West Contra Costa County Unified School Districts Measure T, which extends the existing parcel tax to 2027.Normally we would consider these two issues as separate issues; let me explain why they are not.

                During my years in the California State Legislature (1980-1996) the debate about Public V. Charter, or Private, schools was an annual topic of discussion, with both sides making legitimate arguments why their side was the right one. After several years the Legislature decided to pass legislation allowing Charter Schools to exist, I voted against the final legislation for several reasons, most importantly because many of the citizens of this state were complaining  that we weren’t spending enough on our public schools and to remove more funds from public schools for Charter Schools made no sense (I was told by an analyst from the California School Boards Association just yesterday that roughly ten percent of the funds for K-12 Education in California go to some sort of Charter or other Private school, in Oakland it is 23% and  in Los Angeles some $400 million of their budget goes to Charter Schools).
                Now, whether or not we like it, Charter Schools are here, whether they are here to stay, or for a period of time, state and local school officials will have to deal with them as provided in the state education codes. It is precisely for this reason that we must elect individuals who understand this, regardless of which views they harbor.

                Pam Mirabella was first elected to the Contra Costa County Board of Education in 1984 and for all of those years she has proven to be a person who listens to all sides of an issue, taken the time to investigate the issues in detail and has attempted to continue to make sure that whatever process is taken that the public’s funds have been properly expended..

                Pam Mirabella has supported all programs that have expanded the learning experience for students who are identified as low achieving… She has reminded Charter School applicants that they are funded with public funds and therefore should be subject to the open meeting act, provided for in the Brown and Bagley-Keene open meeting acts, the California Public Records Act, making sure that schools are constructed to the seismic safety standards as set forth in the Field Act, the Public Reform Act of 1974, which requires all Board Members of private and public boards of education, receiving public funding, to have to file statements of economic interest so as to make sure they have no financial interest in the items that they approve.

                Regardless of how you feel personally about the issue of Charter v Public Schools, there are certain requirements the public places on those expending public funds, the most important of which, is that the body expending those funds lets the public know how and why the funds were expended in the manner in which they were spent, this is basic to any democracy. remember even when this is done there are many who still don’t like what you did with “their” money, but at least they were informed. 

                The debate between Charter Schools and Public Schools will continue as Californians and the rest of the USA attempt to figure out how to better educate its young. One of the chief issues in that debate is how do we attract the very brightest of our University and College graduates to become teachers and educators? There are many things we need to do to accomplish this and while it doesn’t always involve more money, money is nonetheless a major ingredient to achieving this goal. Competition is so great for graduating talent that education is almost at the point of not being able to compete.

                With the high cost of housing and living in most of California, it is almost impossible for two people to afford to live in California, let alone ever dreaming of being able to afford a home or residence; it is for this reason Measure T is important for West Contra Costa County voters. While school bonds can only be used for Capital improvements, Measure T is a parcel tax
that can be used to (quoted from the East Bay Times Newspaper’s editorial) “Help the district pay teachers decent salaries and provide quality education to students.” 

                The reason I cite the East Bay Times Editorial is because in the past they have been quite critical of the West Contra County Unified School District’s “overuse” of Bond Measures. Their rational, in addition to the above, also has to do with the fact that Measure T is extending an existing tax until 2027, which means it will either come back to the voters for another extension, or will cease.

                If we want our students in public schools to excel and compete with private and Charter Schools they must be given the resources so they can continue to vie for the very best teachers of the future, Measure T gives the West Contra Costa Unified School district a better chance to continue to compete.