California educators breathe sigh of relief at Proposition 30 win

California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks in support of Prop. 30 at an October rally at UCLA.
California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks in support of Prop. 30 at an October rally at UCLA.
Sharon McNary/KPCC

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Election night was a rollercoaster for hundreds of thousands of California educators, parents and students who kept a close eye on Proposition 30 past the midnight hour.

“I was sitting watching the presidential returns and the speeches and I had my computer open to the California election results page and I was hitting the refresh button every 30 seconds," said Arcadia Unified Superintendent Joel Shawn. "I’m surprised I didn’t wear it out,” 

Shawn said the Yes on Prop. 30 campaign convinced voters that the state’s education system is underfunded and failure to raise revenue would gut public schools. It's failure at the polls would have triggered about $6 billion dollars in cuts to California public schools and public colleges and universities.

L.A. Unified Superintendent John Deasy tweeted a simple message once Prop. 30’s victory was clear Wednesday morning: “Thank you CA voters for supporting our schools.”

Victory wasn’t a foregone conclusion in the weeks before election day. Polls showed support for Proposition 30 dipping under 50 percent. A strong anti-tax sentiment fueled by the slow economy seemed to give voters pause for raising California’s sales and income taxes.

As he walked out of a Los Alamitos polling station Tuesday night, George Cheng said Proposition 30 was the toughest decisions out of all the ones he had to make.

“I’m not for raising taxes but I do believe that public schools need help and need some funding,” Cheng said.

He and many other voters supported Proposition 30 over the other tax measure for schools on the ballot, Proposition 38. Prop. 30’s wide support and campaign funding by teachers' unions and other organized labor groups seemed to give the measure an edge over Proposition 38, authored by wealthy Pasadena civil rights lawyer Molly Munger. Proposition 38’s main endorsement came from the California Parent Teacher Association.

Proposition 30 will raise about $6 billion yearly to fund California public schools and community colleges. It’s not new funding. That’s where the problem lies, said South Pasadena Unified Superintendent Joel Shapiro.

“We have to really reform public school funding in California in order to meet the needs of our students in the 21st century,” Shapiro said.

The most important task ahead, he said, is for Sacramento legislators to fully abide by the state’s law that guarantees funding for public education.

RELATED: Latest results for the propositions, Congress and state offices