It's that time again when we celebrate our past academic year, and share our accomplishments with you, the people who helped make it happen. So...here goes!
In September of 2013 we began working with lawyers to draft our first initiative, the Protection of Local School Revenues Act, to provide property taxes allocated to schools the same rights all other local property taxes received in 2004. The initiative has its own website, created by one of our board members: www.YesForEducation.org. Powerful videos, a cartoon and other collateral were also developed to support this effort. We filed the initiative in November with the Attorney General’s office.
In October we hosted several hundred guests in San Francisco for our second fall fundraising luncheon, The Perfect Recipe for Change. Featured speakers included New York Times bestselling author Kelly Corrigan and former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin. Guests left inspired and motivated to mobilize their communities and to vote for public education at the statewide level.
Our third annual conference, Camp Educate, was held in November 2013. Leaders from as far north as Redway to as far south as San Diego gathered in Los Angeles to learn and practice organizing skills. They used these skills to engage their communities to develop an effective local accountability plan and build teams to gather signatures to qualify our initiative. Los Angeles Unified Superintendent John Deasy and former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin were featured speakers.
In December of 2013, the Youth and Education Law Project at Stanford Law School took Educate Our State on as a pro bono client to analyze the impact of the diversion of school property taxes; their powerful and conclusive report was released in May of 2014, and can be read here.
From January through April of 2014, hundreds of volunteers across California gathered thousands of signatures, held numerous outreach events, and educated voters. School boards across the state passed resolutions in support of the initiative. Unfortunately, despite these valiant efforts, our all-volunteer signature gathering effort was not able to qualify the initiative for the ballot. When the initiative effort passed the deadline to qualify for 2014 via signature gathering, we sent thousands of letters to the governor and local legislators, made hundreds of calls, and visited every legislator’s office in Sacramento, to educate them in an attempt to get the Legislature to put it on the November 2014 ballot.
In May we co-hosted a San Jose Mayoral Candidates Forum on Education with the Santa Clara County Board of Education, Working Partnerships USA, and People Acting in Community Together (PACT), which gave community members a chance to hear candidates’ ideas on public education in the community.
Also in May, supporters from across the state sent thousands of letters and made hundreds of calls to their local legislators and the governor, asking that additional efforts to divert school property taxes to secure debts for the latest version of redevelopment not be included in the final budget. Our efforts were successful, and it was not included. We remain vigilant that a similar effort not be attempted before we are able to rectify the existing diversion.
In June, we attended the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the signing of the Civil Rights Act in Los Angeles, hosted by Attorney General Kamala Harris. We also delivered the Youth and Education Law Project analysis to the Attorney General. We wanted her office to have the third-party analysis that dissects the impact of schools' share of property taxes not reaching our public schools. We continue our outreach to educate organizations, communities and governmental bodies regarding this hidden diversion of property taxes allocated to education. Stay tuned for more news on our State Superintendent Forum and our Fall Conference in Burlingame on Saturday, September 27, and our Fall Luncheon in San Francisco on Tuesday, October 28th.
We are grateful for your engagement this year. We know California has a long way to go to improve our public education system. With your help, we will get there!