Full coverage: Election 2012
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The California ballot essentially asked college voters to choose between higher education and K-12 schools.
Pitting different levels of public education against each other is counterproductive. As state education policy takes shape in the months to come, the mentality needs to be that all California schools, from elementary schools to universities, are considered as parts of a greater whole.
In this election, Proposition 38, which would raise income taxes to fund early childhood and K-12 education, competed against Proposition 30, which would increase taxes and prevent sizeable cuts to all public schools, including the University of California.
If there are two tax measures on the ballot and a majority of voters approve both, only the one with more votes becomes law.
In other words, UCLA voters were faced with a choice: Vote for a measure that provides clear and substantial benefits to K-12 education, or vote for a measure that may prevent UC tuition increases in the short-term, while also directing some funds to K-12 schools.
Prop. 30 alone created some disagreement between higher education leaders and K-12 leaders. The UC Board of Regents initially hesitated to endorse Prop. 30, with members saying they were skeptical of whether the measure would truly help the University. Meanwhile, the California Teachers Association, a powerful union of K-12 instructors, has been a vocal backer of the measure for months.
After all, revenues from Prop. 30 would go toward K-12 and community colleges, freeing up funds that in theory could go toward the UC. But there has never been a guarantee of substantial, long-term increases in state funding for the UC tied to Prop. 30.
In an October interview with UC student newspapers, Gov. Jerry Brown himself acknowledged the need for what he called “cross-pollination” between different levels of state education.
We wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment.
Ties between K-12 schools, community colleges, the California State University system and the UCs run deep. Shortcomings in K-12 education, for example, have trickle-down effects into state universities. CSU remedial education aims to address the fact that the majority of high school students entering the system are “deficient” in English, math or both.
As the dust settles in the days after the election, we urge Brown and state lawmakers to emphasize policies that take a holistic view of California public education.
Teacher education programs within the UC and CSU, which funnel qualified teachers into state K-12 schools, already exist, but these efforts could be intensified. And programs such as the University of California Curriculum Integration Institutes, which develop rigorous college preparatory courses that then get taught in high schools, are a step in the right direction.
Though K-12 schools may seem far removed from the state’s universities, we are all pieces of the same puzzle.
Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of the editorial board.