Prop. 15 Will Create a Just, Equitable Future for All
With more than 3 million people, California’s K-12 Latino student population could be its own country. In fact, there are more Latinos studying in our public schools than there are people in the oil-rich country of Qatar.
But while Qatar boasts the highest income per capita in the world, Latino youth have been hamstrung due to decades of disinvestment in their local schools and communities. This November, Californians have an opportunity to rectify these inequities at the ballot box by passing Proposition 15, otherwise known as the Schools and Communities First Initiative.
The Schools and Communities First Initiative will reclaim $12 billion annually for K-12 public schools, community colleges, and local communities. It does so by reforming Proposition 13 passed in 1978 which allowed commercial and industrial properties to use a tax loophole and avoid paying taxes on the market-rate value of their properties.
To date, the initiative has collected 1.7 million signatures of support— the most ever collected for a ballot proposition. In a recent poll by the Latino Community Foundation and Latino Decisions, 76% of registered Latino voters of all political affiliations stated they supported this initiative. The bipartisan support underlies one major underlying fact: investing in Latino youth, communities, and schools would benefit the entire state of California.
Over half of all students enrolled in California’s K-12 public schools are Latino. In regions like the Imperial Valley, they make up more than 90% of the student population. Yet, Latino students are more likely than any other racial/ethnic group in the state to attend high-poverty schools. That means overcrowded schools with less access to things like modern facilities, well sourced libraries and school nurses. The end outcome: the state’s public schools are ill-equipped to train California’s workforce—Latinos. Without a well-educated and trained Latino workforce, the state will fail to fully recover from the current economic crisis.
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In places like San Diego County, home to thousands of our essential workers who have continued to work during COVID-19, closing this loophole would bring back more than $155 million to their local schools and to help pay for essential services needed in the community. A fair and just return from the people of California in exchange for their bravery in our most trying times.
This current public health crisis and its economic fallout has magnified the impact of racist policies that have led to deep racial inequities in health, education, and wealth. It has made us all pause and face the consequences of our inaction. This November, we have an opportunity to reverse the tide and make things right again.
From the Mission District of San Francisco to Barrio Logan neighborhood of San Diego, sitting in our virtual classrooms are the next Latino nurses, firefighters, and policymakers who will lead California towards the greatest economic recovery our state has never seen before. It’s up to all of us to ensure they all have an equal opportunity to achieve their highest potential. Our livelihood depends on it.