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Governor Brown's Modest Proposal

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Regardless of who wins the presidential election on Nov. 6, California's six million K-12 public school students will feel no immediate effect.

However, if California's Proposition 30, a Sales and Income Tax Increase Initiative, fails all California public school students' lives will be rocked the next morning.

The Los Angeles Unified School District has already lopped 10 days off its normal 180-day school year to deal with this year's state budget crisis. And if Prop 30, which raises California sales tax from 7.25 percent to 7.5 percent and increases the income tax on those earning over $250,000, goes down in flames, Governor Brown will likely make good on his promise to cut $4.8 billion in public school funds. That could mean wiping out an additional 15-20 schools days from the 2012-2013 academic year.

That's good news for day care providers, video arcade owners and sleep-a-way camp proprietors.

Not so good for student learning.

What does a 155-day public school year look like?

Well, compare it to China which sends its kids to school 260 days; Japan, 243 days; Israel, 216 days; Nigeria, 190 days; France, 185 days; and Bolivia, 160 days.

So all other things being equal, California public school kids should be able to give Bolivian students a run for their money come spring when it's time to take those standardized tests.

That is, if California's public schools are open next spring.

Some charitable foundations have found ways to make a difference in our students' educations. For example, the Wasserman Foundation sponsors the LAUSD's Bright Idea Challenge and encourages District students, employees and parents to submit ideas as to how our district can save money.

The three winners this year each received a $3,000 check to be spent at their school site, as well as a trophy.

One of the bright ideas that did not win was submitted by an LAUSD employee who wanted the District to hook up with an apparel company to create a line of LAUSD clothing. Sounds reasonable, yet I, an LAUSD teacher, cannot envision my teenage students shucking their Abercrombie and Fitch, Nike and Love Pink gear for the chance to wear LAUSD embossed polo shirts. I mean, the District's logo is a yellow #2 pencil inside a sun. What kid wants to wear that?

Still, the District is strapped for cash. And I fear more of my colleagues will lose their jobs if we don't create new income streams. So while I wait for the upcoming election, I am doing my part. I have come up with what I hope are catchy slogans that students will relate to and embrace.

So imagine, if you will, a line of LAUSD clothing or bumper stickers or coffee cups or backpacks imprinted with the following slogans:
  • I Love Mar Vista High So Much -- I Stayed a Fifth Year
  • I Scored 100 Percent -- On My Random Drug Test
  • My Child had Perfect Attendance in the LAUSD -- for 2 1/2 Weeks
  • Join the LAUSD -- First 100 Caucasians to Enroll Receive a Free Hoodie
  • If U Ken Rd Dis -- U Ken Pass the HiGh School Exxxit Exxam
I will shoot this manufacturing idea to someone in the District's fundraising department and hope for the best. Or maybe submit it to the next Bright Idea Challenge.

Until then, for the sake of California's six million public school children, our community colleges and our Cal State University system, I hope you will join me on Nov. 6 and vote Yes on Prop 30.