Letters to the Editor

Prop. 30 affirms public investment in schools

On behalf of Cal Poly, our county’s K-12 public schools and Cuesta College, we thank the voters of San Luis Obispo County and California for passing Proposition 30.

Proposition 30 provides immediate and needed short-term relief from the harsh cuts in state funding that our schools have suffered over the past five years. Among several immediate benefits, passage of Proposition 30 means there most likely will be no further cuts this year in state funds.

At the K-12 level, our local school districts still face difficult decisions to balance their budgets for 2013-14 and will only be able to restore programs as the state’s economy improves. These decisions will be made locally and in full public view, not in Sacramento. We encourage you to attend board meetings, join committees and express your ideas and concerns to your local school board.

For Cuesta College, Proposition 30’s passage eases some of the harshest cuts that were in store. While Cuesta still must reduce some course offerings, those reductions will be nowhere near the draconian levels looming if Proposition 30 had failed.

Cal Poly avoids an additional $14.5 million in cuts to its state funding with Proposition 30’s passage. Students and their parents will not have to pay a scheduled $300-a-year increase in tuition fees that would have occurred in January. Students also will receive a reduction of $500 for an annual tuition fee increase that began this fall. Finally, it appears likely that Cal Poly will be able to expand its enrollment next year by several hundred students — a step in the right direction given the imminent shortage of college-trained employees that California’s key industries face.

We applaud Gov. Jerry Brown’s leadership on this initiative and his commitment to protect California public education from further cuts. He forged a coalition of support and kept his promise not to increase taxes without voter approval.

Implicit in voters’ approval of Proposition 30 is an affirmation of the value of public education, which has been America’s great engine of upward mobility regardless of one’s socioeconomic status.

Moreover, taxpayers’ investment in public education yields an excellent return.

Strong public schools and universities lead to communities that enjoy reduced crime, less need for public assistance, higher household incomes and stronger property values.

Strong public schools and universities strengthen our democracy by transforming young people into productive citizens who can solve society’s challenges and help create a better future for all.

For all these reasons, we are deeply grateful to voters and humbled by their expression of trust in our institutions.

We are keenly aware of our solemn obligation to ensure that your tax dollars are used wisely and efficiently. We pledge to you that we will do all in our power to fulfill that responsibility and to continue to merit your trust.

Jeffrey D. Armstrong is president of Cal Poly; Julian Crocker is San Luis Obispo County Superintendent of Schools; and Gil Stork is superintendent/president of Cuesta College.