Bipartisan push for California voter initiative on school choice
The recent election in Virginia demonstrated that public education malfeasance is driving blue state voters to change their minds on politics. That’s why I cautiously optimistic about a signature drive in California to place on the ballot a voter initiative that would establish Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) for every student in the state, funded by $13,000 annually from the state.
A bipartisan powerhouse duo is behind the push: former acting DNI and Ambassador to Germany Ric Grennell and former California State Democrat Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero. The group sponsoring the initiative, Fix California, describes the key points, including:
California now spends around $22,000 per year for each child in public school, including around $14,000 from state funds. Spending more on the current and outdated system will not yield better results. Letting parents decide which school offers the best options and learning experiences for their student better utilizes education funds. The increasing demand for alternatives will create a range of exciting educational opportunities that all students can enjoy.
This point is critical, because if the measure obtains the 997,000 signatures necessary to appear on the ballot, there will appear on the official ballot guide sent to every voter, a section called “fiscal impact.” That section is prominently featured and is read by virtually everyone who chooses to vote on an initiative. In this case, it will have to state that the State of California will save millions of dollars, and local schools will save an even larger amount, depending on how many students take advantage of the program.
That “fiscal impact” section is one major reason why Californians passed a previous ballot measure making thefts up to $950 misdemeanors. The fiscal impact section said that it would save the state big bucks, from decreased incarceration.
Romero’s participation is very important, lending bipartisan appeal and directing the attention of Hispanic voters and parents to the measure. The Federalist reports:
“It realizes the promise of education by saying you’re not going to be trapped by zip code,” Romero told The Federalist, “which to me, is the five biggest digits of separation that keep children entrapped in failing schools.” (snip)
While she endorsed Republican radio host Larry Elder in the recall contest, Romero told The Federalist that “Fix California Education” was going to be launched regardless of the outcome.
“[Education] should mobilize parents and voters and Democrats and Republicans,” Romero said, adding that she harbored skepticism Republicans would topple Newsom in the recall election to begin with. School choice, however, an issue on which she’s diverged from her party platform for more than a decade in the statehouse and beyond, she says “should reinforce parents of all political affiliations that they should park their party label at the door.”
A very smart aspect of the plan is:
Any unused funds in the Education Savings Account, and the investment earnings of such funds, will be rolled over for future school years.
Upon completion of high school or GED, up to $60,000 remaining in the student’s Education Savings Account will be available for that child for college or vocational school.
This will attract parents worried about college or vocational training for their kids. Which is almlost all of them.
The teachers’ unions will spend almost unthinkable sums of money to try to defeat the initiative if it makes it to the ballot. But my sense is that their successful demands that schools close last year and their insistence on masking now have squandered a lot of public goodwill. Many parents overheard the zoom classes their kids attended and were shocked. They also realize that their kids have fallen far behind where they should be thanks to the closures.
Meanwhile, Gavin Newsom’s kids went to class at the private school they attended. At a minimum, it will be amusing watching the unions and their paid-for politicians arguing that your kids shouldn’t have the same options rich people like Newsom have.
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