A slim majority of voters passed Initiative 1351 to reduce class sizes, which will cost $4.7 billion that the state doesn’t have. But would those same voters support a $4.7 billion tax increase? That’s about as likely as pigs flying in formation.
It makes us think that while class size is surely a challenge, the need for better civics education is an even more urgent problem. Do the 989,754 people who voted for I-1351 have a clue about the condition of our state budget? Do they know that it all comes from taxes we pay, or that it’s been cut to the bone during the Great Recession?
The Legislature can’t pay for I-1351, but maybe, in the effort to fully fund basic education, they could carve out a little more money for civics instruction that would produce voters who get the connection between taxes and spending. Perhaps further improvements in math skills would help, too, so that we could be confident that all voters really understand the difference between millions and billions.
Improvements in teacher education may also be needed. All teachers ought to be able to explain why their union spent $3 million of their barely adequate salaries to pass a measure that can’t be implemented.