City and school board should set up tours to Massachusetts

California's at the bottom at 41st for quality of life for our kids according to the Kids Count report by the Annie E Casey Foundation

    I just got back from Massachusetts and had a great time. I also read the recent Annie E. Casey Foundation report called Kids Count. In the exhaustive report they rate the quality of life for kids in each state involving Economic Well Being , Education ,Health and Family and Community. Massachusetts came in 2nd nationally ,second to mini state New Hampshire. California on the other hand came in 41st.

     If Massachusetts is doing so well ,maybe we can learn a little from them be visiting the state. Education tours would make sense because they are ranked number one in the country in education. Whats also interesting is how they raise the resources to fund education.In a word they have split role. where commercial and industrial property is assessed at 2 and 2.5 times that of residential property. We don't even really have a flat tax rate system in California where residential and commercial properties are on the same level. Commercial property owner are able to "game"the system and often pay a rate that's below the residential rate. Lenny Goldberg  of Cal Tax Reform has been working for decades to fix the problem. Even Goldberg's solution isn't quite split role , its a sort of imitation split role, akin to imitation crab meat if you will. He just proposes that commercial property be reassessed every few years,not  daring to propose that commercial property be assest at a real split role rate of 2 to 2.5 times residential property which is how its done in other industrial states.

      Although there has been a good arguement for split role , they can't even get legisation out of committee in Sacramento. Tom Ammiano ,assemblyman from San Francisco quips "the corporations are laughing at us." We are a very rich state not to have enough money to fund education. Along with being the 8th richest economy in the world we also win 40 percent of the country's venture capital investments and generate 50 percent of the country's IPOs (initial public offerings.) Go almost anywhere in California and the commercial property is not cheap,not by a long shot. And its not cheap because properties and corporations  are generating a lot of money.

     What makes the problem such a glaring example of the injustice of the California property tax problem is how well Massachusetts schools are going compared to us but the kicker is they also pay much lower sales taxes 6.25 percent compared to 10 percent in San Leandro. Their sales tax is even lower than 6.25 percent in real economic terms because they don't pay a sales tax on clothes.Attention California shoppers!

     So my proposal is simple , start a tour of the Bay State , go see their schools , look at their tax roles , visit their numerous factory outlets . The money you save on factory outlet bargains and NO sales tax on clothes will almost make the trip pay for itself. 

      We have a poor education system because we let corporations short change us and we make up the state revenue be nickel and dimming the working people and the poor.Massachusetts , though far from perfect has a much better education system and generate much more revenue from fairly taxing corporations and not sticking it to the poor and workers.

       Most politicians in California would rather resign from office than raise some cane about commercial property tax injustice. Mums the word on this issue among school board members and I'm sure the parcel tax campaigns leaders won't touch this issue with a ten foot pole.But just think of all the people who would get excited about a tour to Massachusetts , if only for the great clothes and sales tax deal!

Lenny Goldberg has been working on this issue for decades and thinks the key is identifying tax weasels locally. Maybe telling people they can have a better education with split role and not pay sales taxes on clothes might be an even better hook. Maybe Wilma Chan a former Massachusetts resident could also play a role. I of course would make a great tour guide.

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Marga Lacabe September 03, 2012 at 05:37 PM
Craig, it ultimately goes down to the same thing: leadership. We have 3 new school board members, and we'll have one new city council person. Hopefully, among them, one leader will arise.
Craig Williams September 04, 2012 at 12:07 AM
Your brain is in an ideological toilet .
Fred Eiger September 04, 2012 at 12:38 PM
And it just flushed your brain down the toilet. How many illegal aliens from Mexico are flooding Massachusetts schools? Does the report detail the dreadful state of the schools in the City of Boston? Especially Southie? Hmmmm I doubt it. You're just another mouth piece for the Left, stirring up resentment and jealousy in a bid to raise taxes to pay for government largesse. If Massachusetts is so wonderful, why did you ever leave?
Fred Eiger September 04, 2012 at 12:39 PM
Wishful thinking. But, I hope we have two new Councilmen; Hermie Almonte being one.
David September 04, 2012 at 03:48 PM
The corporations are laughing at us...as they relocate with all their jobs to Texas, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, anywhere but California. Let's speed up the hollowing out of the California middle class by raising taxes some more!
David September 04, 2012 at 03:52 PM
The all-in compensation of the Alameda county sheriff last year was $525k, a real 1%er. What was the compensation of the top cop in Boston? Do 1/3 of Boston city employees receive $200k+ in base salary like 1/3 of SF public workers? Is there any mayor in Massachusetts making $800,000 like the Mayor of Bell did? The politicians in this state always come around with their hats out begging for more taxes (on the rich! haha, right) to spend more on "the children" but somehow it all ends up in their (and their cronies') pockets. But here you are, recommending more and more of the same. If only you had a truly new, "progressive" idea in your head...
Rob Rich September 04, 2012 at 04:10 PM
David, I thought you would be supportive of the school board trying to learn the best practices from Massachusetts. Just the other day you were taking the board to task for studiously ignoring what is going on there. http://www.city-journal.org/2012/22_3_massachusetts-education.html
David September 04, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Rob, Craig seems to think that the "answer" is to tax & spend more, i.e. what the state has been doing for the past 40 years. Somehow it has led to awesome pay & pension packages for politicians and public sector workers, while at the same time, school outcomes have eroded, roads have gone to gravel etc etc. The School Board by all means should take a few lessons from Massachusetts. They have not. Instead of formulating any plan for bettering the schools, they whine about how they don't have enough money. As I posted before, no one in the real (private sector) world gets a pay raise before they present a list of accomplishments and/or a plan for future improvements. I would not so adamantly oppose the parcel tax IF I saw some, heck, just about any plan that was remotely believable for school improvement. The fact that there is none guarantees that ever more of my income will be wasted. It's disgusting.
Craig Williams September 04, 2012 at 05:13 PM
David California like I stated in the post attracts 40 percent of the country's venture capital money, yet we're 12 percent of the population and 50 percent of IPO's.That's impressive by any stretch .Your Longhorn buddies are generating mostly low wage jobs. As far as the private sector and hourly compensation, the executives have been able to break way from hourly compensation starting in 1977. Private sector workers should be envious of the public sector where employees are not considered expendable scum.The problem is that the public sector rewards improvements in productivity where the private sector doesn't have to . They blow off unions and end up paying a small fine. That's why we've had a wage drought for several decades. Marga unfortunately some of the liberals who you know very well on the school board are like the 300 lb. guy who ridicules the guy who weighs 310. Anyone slightly left of their Chamber chummy liberalism is considered a radical . Not a word has been said about Split Role by school board officials which is like nurses not talking about Single Payer . Not having Split Role is the number one educational problem in the state.
David September 04, 2012 at 05:27 PM
The public sector rewards improvements in productivity? HAHAHHAHAHHAHAHAH. School enrollment is flat during the past decade. School/DoE employees are up. Outcomes are worse. This is improving productivity? What planet are you from? Really?
Craig Williams September 04, 2012 at 06:02 PM
That's the tragedy, David . Corporate CEO's made 30 times what workers made in American Capitalisms Golden Age 50' through 70's and growth was much better . Now they make 400 times what workers make (in the large corporations) and the growth rate has been lower. Corporations can just screw workers, file a grievence and the NLRB will on average take 967 day before they take up your case.
David September 04, 2012 at 06:12 PM
The Alameda County Sheriff makes 10 TIMES what the average worker makes in Alameda County and 2.5 times what the Chief of the NYPD (who runs an operation with about 100 TIMES as many employees) makes. I can sell shares of any corporation where I feel the CEO is failing. Don't like the iPad? Don't buy it. I pay these "public servants" astronomically above market rates for what? Crappy schools, crappy roads and high crime. When can I fire them? When can I vote on the pay I'm working my tail off for them?
Craig Williams September 04, 2012 at 06:53 PM
Crappy schools exist in areas where people don't get compensated for increases in productivity. Wealthy areas with little poverty (10 percent or less) are the best in the world , #1 in ready and math. You pay peanuts and you get monkeys. In a country governed by the rule of law, CEO's couldn't get away with their quid pro quo with their board members where the board members get plum $200,000 a year gigs meeting 6 times a year in exchange for voting the CEO's huge eight figure salary.In Europe the CEO's perform as well and often times better and make a fraction of their U.S. counterparts. Probably because workers are on their boards under the co determination laws.
David September 04, 2012 at 07:15 PM
Again, there is no "increase in productivity" in California schools and hasn't been for decades. It's been all *declines* in productivity. Our teachers are the highest paid in the country. In a country governed by the rule of law, public sector employees couldn't get away with their quid pro quo with elected officials, who are bought and paid for by the public sector unions. Except the public sector unions are paying with money extorted from taxpayers. Corporations have to survive on their products. Don't like google? don't use it. I don't like paying the alameda county sheriff a base salary that's 50% higher (just the base) than the Chief of the NYPD. When can I choose not to use that product? You think it's a crime for people to get paid to produce a product that people CHOOSE to use. I think it's a crime to extort money from taxpayers upon pain of imprisonment or loss of property for inferior outcomes. We all know you prefer extortion. I don't.
Craig Williams September 04, 2012 at 08:11 PM
Most of the measures of student achievement are misplaced. We need to train our young in skills that will boost productivity and provide for a modestly prosperous middle class life. In many European countries over 50% of people under 22 are in aprentieship.Here its 5 percent. Maybe conservatives think Americans are too stupid to learn a trade. It was Howard Jarvis, hero of the California Right ,who said "funding education only encourages the minorities."Lets give kids a break and move toward more apprenticeship programs. Even a one percent increase a year would be progress. The scores 50 to 5 and we're losing. Top management in the government sector are seriously overpid but its the culture. I bet most division one football and basketball college coaches in the Bay Area make at least 3 times what the sheriff makes. Also Alameda County is larger than 11 states. Many markets are controlled by a handful of companies where just having 10% market share can mean sales in the billions.Many products are over priced because of government regulations which protect big companies from price wars and competition.You name the big corporation and government is working for them.
David September 04, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Again, I'm not forced to pay the Stanford football coach. If you're arguing we should pay the Cal coaches less, sure by all means. The NYPD has over 40,000 cops. How many does the County sheriff manage? Get real. On top of it, Alameda County's violent crime rate is 30% higher than NYC's. If we were paying for results, his pay should be at least 30% lower than NYC's. But we're not. We're paying whatever rate the public sector unions think they can extort out of the taxpayer via the politicians they bought (with our tax dollars). You're arguing to cut government regulation? Join the club. Now all you have to do is get on board with a flat income tax across the board, covering corporations, individuals and capital gains. Why should a commie like you support that? No opportunity for graft, corporate welfare or other rent-seeking behavior.
Craig Williams September 04, 2012 at 09:13 PM
I consider myself a social democrat not a commie .Though when I was younger I worked for a progressive organization but was a little to the left of them. In marriage many people hope to have something of a socialist or communist relationship ,where there is complete equality no exploitation. And Christians also preach of a utopian afterlife which to me seems a little socialistic.Conservatives usually don't buy the equality in marriage concept. The sheriff is probably not part of the union since its a management position.If you're concerned about government ,think of all the corporations that are ripping off the system by using tax dodges. Thats one of the areas with the most inefficiency.
Fred Eiger September 05, 2012 at 03:16 AM
If they're generating such "low wage jobs" then who is buying all the houses they're building in Texas? All the cars and trucks? Someone must be making money in Texas.
Fred Eiger September 05, 2012 at 03:18 AM
Crappy schools exist where parents don't take any part in their child's education. Washington D.C. New York City, Oakland etc. all pay way more per pupil with bad results. Blame the parents, not the money spent.
Barry Kane September 05, 2012 at 03:50 AM
Parents are still the #1 hope for improvement, when they are involved and hold their children accountable and participate in the school, things change, kids succeed. Ask any teacher. Funding and community support are incredibly important for success as well, but will not work without the parents.
Craig Williams September 05, 2012 at 04:17 AM
As important as it is to have parents who are enthusiastic and believe in education,its much better when industry and schools are on the same page. In some countries according to the CEO of Dow Chemical" they applaud engineering and apprenticeship programs." We're losing 50 to 5 , where in Europe over 50 percent of people under 22 are in apprenticeship programs while only 5 percent here. Want to improve schools in poor areas ,make them into trade schools.
David September 05, 2012 at 12:50 PM
You operate in fantasy land when you think the DMV is more efficient than any corporation.
Rob Rich September 05, 2012 at 02:24 PM
One thing SLUSD could do is to encourage volunteerism. Sometimes it seems like you have to beg to help. There is no shortage of need. I would like to see volunteers cultivated as a valuable resource.
Marga Lacabe September 05, 2012 at 03:21 PM
One thing people miss is that "volunteers" are not really free. They need to be trained, overseen and managed. When an organization is strained to the limits, finding the resources to do this can be quite difficult.
Rob Rich September 05, 2012 at 04:32 PM
Marga, I think you accurately captured the District's perspective. Better to let the paint peel? To clarify, when volunteers beautify our schools, we pay for our own supplies and we pay for District staff at overtime rates (plus we feed everyone). Some believe that it takes a lot of meetings to allow volunteers to help, but I assure you that it is handled far more effectively and efficiently in neighboring schools where volunteers are cherished as a valuable resource rather than treated as a nuisance that must be tolerated. If active, involved parents are key to our schools, perhaps encouraging volunteers is a best practice we should try to adopt?
Craig Williams September 05, 2012 at 05:38 PM
Rob the opposite is also true. By that I mean teachers should be active in the neighborhoods around their schools. This may at first seem very idealistic but when my son was in grammar school ,I got the impression that many of the teachers at the school he was at would make excellent precinct leaders , maybe door knocking 3 times a year on important progressive legislation. They are also the potential intellectual leaders in many working class neighborhoods.
Rob Rich September 05, 2012 at 07:07 PM
I've found teachers, as a group, to be very active in volunteering at their schools. It's hard to keep up with them!
Craig Williams September 05, 2012 at 07:51 PM
I've been involved in local Democratic Party organizations for a decade and we have very few teachers involved. It was mostly our fault for not doing outreach . I think teachers would make great neighborhood leaders and activists. Somehow we should work on a project to make them into neighborhood leaders and precinct coordinators.
Marga Lacabe September 05, 2012 at 07:56 PM
Rob, I think that's the perspective of anyone who has done a lot of work with volunteers - both being one, utilizing them and placing them. Now, what /you/ can do is organize your own system of volunteers, in which the district has to do nothing but call one person and get a trained volunteer to do whatever it is they want. Basically, have a non-profit streamline it for the district. Otherwise, I don't see it being feasable.
Rob Rich September 06, 2012 at 02:35 AM
Marga, you could not come up with a more powerful disincentive for anyone to volunteer if you tried. In any case, despite the current system which, through a Byzantine & ever-changing set of rules, undervalues volunteers while simultaneously squeezing cash out of them, allowing people to volunteer in a meaningful way is a fundamental social justice issue that we can fix in our community today. Aside from building community & getting folks committed to their schools by volunteering their labor, volunteers tangibly help improve our schools when permitted to power wash, prep, prime & paint, build shelves & benches, weed & mulch, install pavers, decomposed granite & irrigation, install carpet & refinish hardwood floors. We even do windows. Kids help too, & they can be a handful. But you know what, it's worth it. It's part of the way that we all can have "skin in the game."


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