Note: This post is Part 2 of a four-part series on Measure 85 written by PSU Capstone student bloggers. Thank you, guest bloggers, for contributing this material and helping in our campaign to educate local voters on measures that impact kids and schools.
Passing Measure 85 is not going to guarantee that our schools, as a system, are going to improve. I would say it is safe to assume this measure, framed as getting what is fair from the rich, will be passed and if it is, the corporate kicker in excess of tax collections sent to the General Fund per this measure will go to schools with both skilled and unskilled teachers, teachers who do and who do not demonstrate dedication to student learning, cultural competence and sociopolitical consciousness, individual teachers and staff who may or may not have a profound impact on their individual students. “Throwing money at a problem” may not solve it but given the nature of what is at stake, passing this measure is a step towards benefiting our communities and the corporations losing their kickers.
Corporations as Robin Hoods?
Much of the appeal of this measure can safely be attributed to a Robin Hood relationship between corporations successful enough to be able to pay their taxes and our public services needing that funding. Sue Books, in her piece “What Teachers Need to Know About Poverty,” says that teachers, and I would say every member of society, should recognize “that poverty is a function of political economy, not of scarcity and not of personality. In wealthy nations such as the United States where there is no absolute scarcity of food, shelter, health care, or opportunity, poverty results from the politics of distribution.”
Measure 85 seeks to bring more fairness to our tax code to remedy the achievement gap between well-to-do communities and underserved communities. For the purposes of this post I have three ideas of why this measure should be passed and how this kicker reallocation can serve the interests of both our communities and the corporations losing their money (and I say “lose” easily because the measure is based off estimates given by the Governor concerning collections).
The Greater Good
First, M85 should be passed because corporations, as individual entities both big and small, can be seen as “successful” since the ones affected by the measure were able to pay their taxes in the first place, and perhaps as “more successful” than the school system in their ability to continue operations and to grow with their funding system. Given this view, I can say, in their affluence, they have an obligation to help improve the societies to which they belong, namely in funding a social service that empowers clients (students in their learning of basic knowledge as a foundation for greater skills). They have a greater ability to bear the financial burden of sustaining society than the average individual human taxpayers with their respective jobs or lack of jobs, and along with human taxpayers, they operate under the same economic conditions. Reallocating money to educate would one way to meet this obligation and improve economic conditions to these companies’ interests.
Secondly, it is in the best interests of these corporations as well as the communities to educate their youth to prepare a future workforce that can produce with more competitiveness in our global economy and which would generate a consumer base with greater consumption power from their increased income. The costs of production would decrease with greater innovation, the talent at these companies at all levels would increase in their respective fields and therefore corporations would win in the long run as the standards of skill and knowledge of communities increase. Generally, talent is seen as coming from resourceful schools, the top part of the achievement gap, but if this gap can be narrowed, so much more talent found in students who may not have the chance without the additional funding can be captured and fostered. I very much want to drive this point home because appealing to communities would be easy with this particular issue but appealing to the parties having less cash flowing back for the sake of this issue is harder, and this particular idea would take some time and tremendous effort (using that money) to manifest.
Belief in Our Youth
Thirdly, I want to remedy the pessimistic view I gave in the opening paragraph with belief in our youth. In “Desde Entonces, Soy Chicana (Since Then, I am Chicana): A Mexican Immigrant Student Resists Subtractive Schooling” Angela Valenzuela interviews a Chicana youth with remarkable awareness of sociopolitical conditions and a passion for understanding that blossoms despite these conditions in the educational system and local communities oppressing the potential of immigrants and children of immigrants. In “Yes, But How Do We Do It?” Gloria Ladson-Billings tells a story of how the ability to incorporate the experiences of their students to bring about meaningful change.
For example, in my original study of cultural competence and sociopolitical awareness, a student complained about the deterioration of the community and expressed strong emotions about how unhappy he was living in a place that had lots of crime, drugs, and little in the way of commerce and recreational facilities. The teacher used the student’s emotion to develop a community study … so the students could compare the community’s present condition with that of the past and raise questions about how the decline had occurred. Ultimately, the students developed a land-use plan that they presented to the council.
In both cases potential is demonstrated by the students, self-driven and/or evoked by teachers. This potential provides hope for bringing up the standards of opportunities provided to underserved communities due to awareness of a cause that needs to be addressed. Funding a platform, even a broken one, in which this potential can be unlocked and utilized to meaningful ends, for the individuals and consequently for the communities in which they function, is a noble aim that this kicker refund could help drive.
In conclusion I have tried to appeal to both corporations and communities the merits of passing Measure 85 as being in their best interests and remedying the achievement gap.