Tag Archives: Students

Student-led Campaign for Oil Extraction Tax Announces Strategic Resubmission, New Partnerships

The student-led campaign to pass an oil extraction tax in California via ballot initiative entered a new phase this week. The initiative, titled the California Modernization and Economic Development Act (CMED, for short), began gathering signatures in April and hit the signature gathering deadline set by the Secretary of State today. However, Californians for Responsible Economic Development, the student-led group that drafted the initiative, is announcing plans to strategically resubmit a revised measure: “This Summer has been busy for the CMED team,” said Aaron Thule, Grassroots Coordinator for the campaign, “after a lot of hard work, we have built a signature gathering coalition for Fall and Winter that will be ready to activate and qualify this initiative come November.”

The revised initiative will still utilize a tax on oil extracted from California to make investments in education and energy affordability, and authors have kept the same title. However, the authors made several key changes to the initiative. First, CMED will now feature a sliding scale tax of 2% to 8%, which proponents argue will protect small business owners and jobs. Proponents of the initiative predict that the oil tax would bring in 1 billion dollars a year in revenue for the state. Second, revenue in the revised initiative would be allocated as follows:

– 50% would be placed in a special 30-year endowment for education. After 3 years, the endowment would begin to payout in four equal parts toward K-12, Community Colleges, Cal State Universities and University of California. After 30 years of collecting interest, proponents predict it would bring in as much as 3.5 billion dollars a year (in today’s dollars) for California’s education system.

– 25% would be used to provide families and businesses with subsidies to help them switch to cleaner, less costly forms of energy

– 25% would be allocated toward rolling back the gas tax increase enacted last July, to make gas more affordable for working class Californians.

The growing coalition, which set signature gathering goals to qualify the measure by early Spring, includes the University of California Student Association (UCSA), groups at San Francisco State University, Sonoma State University, CSU Bakersfield and several community colleges. California College Democrats and Young Democrats, which have both endorsed an extraction tax for education and clean energy, are also lending support. “It’s hard to believe that California is the only state that practically gives away our energy – especially when, as a state, our schools and colleges continue to struggle and we have yet to provide adequate funding to meet our own renewable energy standards,” said Erik Taylor, president of the College Democrats, who added: “Cal College Dems aren’t the only ones focused on the problem. At the Democratic convention in April, the state party endorsed an extraction tax policy for California. At the Democratic eboard meeting in July, the Young Democrats took it a step further and endorsed an extraction tax for education, renewable energy and community development.”

The UCSA, which represents hundreds of thousands of students in the UC system, plans to organize across several campuses in order to ensure benefits for students. Kareem Aref, the President of the UCSA, commented, “Affordability and funding are critical issues at the UC and Prop 30 simply is not the solution in itself that we need. Our campaigns for this year are designed to ensure a stable and long term funding stream for the UC. We are excited to push CMED to the next level and see this initiative implemented.”

More information and updates from the campaign can be found at http://www.cmedact.org

Diverse OC Group Delivers Message to Sen. Harman: ‘Stop Extreme Budget Cuts’

by Shawn Wehan

Only in California. That’s what I was thinking this week as I stood in front of Sen. Tom Harman’s office in Costa Mesa with fellow surfers, clergy leaders, parents, kids and others concerned that budget cuts are going to decimate everything we love about our state. To be sure, we’re not your typical coalition. We’re not usually political. But every one of us feels threatened by extreme budget cuts.

I’ve been surfing in Orange County most of my life. These beaches and parks are my second home. They’re public treasures that must be protected and managed to ensure they are open to all our children and grandchildren, not turned over to the highest bidder. We’ve got to stop the extreme cuts, which is why we came together to ask Sen. Harman to be the leader who will stand up for our kids.

Over the last few years, we’ve seen firsthand the impact of budget cuts on our daily lives.   There’s been $18 billion in cuts already made to K-12 education over the last three years. This year, schools have an average $1000 less to educate each student than they did in 2008. 19,000 teachers have already received pink slips and may not return to classrooms this fall.

One-quarter of California’s state parks are already scheduled for shut down, with the remaining parks, including Orange County’s beaches, at risk in an all-cuts budget scenario.

At some point, elected officials have to say enough is enough. More cuts are going to deplete this great state of all that makes it great. The diverse group that gathered at Harman’s office yesterday called on the Senator to support maintaining existing revenues in order to stop the cuts.  If he chooses instead to go along with the all-cuts budget advocated by extremists, Orange County schools would lose another $368 million next year.  More state parks could face closure across the state. That’s not a California I want to see.

Debbie Schroeder is a local elementary school principal. She knows all too well what more cuts would mean to our kids’ futures.

Our children didn’t create California’s budget mess, and they shouldn’t have to pay for it with their future. Class sizes are growing and support for our kids outside the classroom is diminished.  We’ve got to stop the extreme cuts, and we’re here to ask Sen. Tom Harman to be the leader who will stand up for our kids.

The budget isn’t a political issue. It’s a moral one. Now’s the time we all have to come together to stand up for California.

Christian Parra, pastor of Harbor Christian Fellowship in Costa Mesa:

We are here to pray for Sen. Tom Harman to be the moral leader California needs to protect our children’s future. A moral leader remembers that it is our calling to protect the earth we were given for our children, and to protect and educate our children – but these imperatives will be made impossible if Senator Harman stands by while another $10 billion in cuts are made to schools, children’s healthcare, and protection of our natural resources.

These members of the Orange County Congregation Community Organization and Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice — Orange County, are some of the many Californians, including educators, parents, law enforcement officials, farmers and surfers who have put aside their differences to support maintaining existing revenues in order to protect schools, seniors, environmental resources and public safety from more cuts. For more information, go to www.standupforca.org


Thousands rally at CSU -Sacramento today

  Thousands in Sacramento Rally Today

Over 2,000 students walked out of their classes at Sacramento State  University today April 13,  in protest against the  state budget cuts and the rising tuition in the California State University  System – part of the largest university system in the world.  Student protesters expect that already passed budget cuts will lead to larger classes, fewer classes, eliminated programs,  and an increased time to graduate.

History Professor Joe Palermo spoke to the crowd gathered in the Sac State Quad arguing,

“What we’ve been witnessing in recent years is nothing short of the wholesale auctioning off, often to the lowest bidder of the public commons right under the feet of the majority of California’s citizens who never signed on to this long-term project of destruction…

He argued that California’s economy has little chance of recovering from the Great Recession if it  remains mired in a politically generated fiscal crisis that prevents us from investing in our future. Unwise public policy today has a tendency to come back and haunt us later. The decision to de-fund higher education amidst prolonged high unemployment and underemployment and record home foreclosures will go down in the state’s history as one of the stupidest public policy choices ever taken.”

A series of student organizers from Students for Quality Education spoke of the costs of cuts to their lives.  Amanda Moores described the irresponsibility of the University Administration in producing a 66% increase in Executive Salaries paid for in part by   a 224 % increase in student fees.

After a loud  rally on the Quad, several hundred students marched across campus.  At this hour over 300 students, faculty and staff are occupying the offices of the University President.

There were rallies and marches on at least 10 of the CSU campuses today, ranging from 50 students to several hundred.

Sacramento State is the only one we know of where students have occupied the administration building.

At 8;30 PM. some 30 students continue to hold the Administration building and they plan to spend the night.

We have offered to relay their messages ( broadcast) through our blog.  We will see what happens.

We are waiting for reports to come in from the other CSU campuses.

Some things aren’t negotiable

Dear Friend,

Some things in life simply aren’t negotiable – like a high quality public education for our children.

My parents emigrated from China to San Francisco when I was three years old. San Francisco public schools gave me the foundation and opportunity to succeed in America. They did the same for all four of my children.

That’s why it’s so important that we stop the budget cuts to education being proposed in Sacramento right now. They will hurt our children, our families and our community.

Check out our first TV commercial of the campaign  – on our Facebook page or at LelandYee.com – and join with me and teachers from across California to put a stop to these unconscionable cuts to education.

In today’s tough economy, middle class families depend on high quality public education. It’s the backbone that has driven California’s economy to become one of the most dynamic in the world and made our state a land of opportunity.

Join our campaign and send a message today that some things aren’t negotiable – even in Sacramento. Our children, our families, our teachers and our communities deserve better. Join the fight to protect public education.


Senator Leland Yee

The Model for True Change

I’m proud to support Mayor Newsom for many reasons, however, as a pre-medical student, I find his advocacy of accessible healthcare especially noteworthy. When speaking to students on my campus about Mayor Newsom’s accomplishments, I exclaim that San Francisco is the birthplace of American universal healthcare, and continue on about the success of “Healthy San Francisco.” Launched in 2007 with former SF Supervisor and current Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, Healthy SF has made groundbreaking efforts to provide health care access for San Francisco’s 73,000 uninsured.

Over the past 3 years, more than 50,000 SF residents have benefitted from this plan. Leaving no one behind, Mayor Newsom expanded his focus from young adults to all city residents who need affordable and accessible healthcare. While improving the quality of living in SF, Healthy SF has consistently been applauded as a model for universal health care. As such, Mayor Newsom was appointed as the chair of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Health Care Reform Task Force, working towards a plan for federal health care reform. Real-life experience, at both a local and national level, is why Mayor Newsom stands as the leading candidate for Lt. Governor.

What this program shows about Mayor Newsom’s character is that he is truly compassionate about the issues affecting his constituents. One of Mayor Newsom’s top priorities is ensuring that the needs of working and middle class families come first. Since the beginning of his mayorship, he has promoted societal inclusiveness through innovative programs similar to Healthy SF including SF Promise, JobsNow, and Sunday Streets. Whichever plan you look at, there is one common denominator: a consistent understanding of what people truly need.

Mayor Newsom looks towards providing Californians with the same ear, intent on listening to their problems and fighting for solutions. Under the leadership of our future Lieutenant Governor, Californians will be provided with accessible and affordable programs under the principles that guided the formation of Healthy SF.

Manisha Goud is the Los Angeles Regional Director of Students for Gavin Newsom. Join Students for Gavin Newsom on Facebook at www.facebook.com/studentsfornewsom.

Hundreds rally for education funding

By Randy Bayne

The Bayne of Blog

CSEA Members dispaly student artworkGovernor Arnold Schwarzenegger received a gift of nine works of art by local school children yesterday. The artwork was created “to save public education” by children and their parents at the Davis farmer’s market and third-graders at Dry Creek elementary in Roseville and included a piece titled, “Evil Money-Grubbing Robot Seeking to Destroy Public School.”

Twenty students participated in the presentation and asked for the governor’s help to get the framed paintings put on display in the Capitol.

CSEA member leads chantsWhile the children went inside to deliver the paintings, more than 1,000 members of the California School Employees Association (CSEA) and other supporters of public education rallied outside after a march from the Sacramento Convention Center where CSEA is holding their annual convention. On the final leg, marchers were escorted by school children pulling wagons loaded with broken and outdated school equipment, including broken music stands, outdated textbooks and flat soccer balls.

All of these children standing here with us today deserve the best chance we can give them to achieve their hopes and dreams for the future,” said CSEA President Allan Clark. “It’s time for our elected leaders to step up and commit to saving education.”

Parent Lonnie Buck from Plumas Lake said he is worried that his 10-year old won’t get the “gold standard” education that drew the father to California from Mississippi.

“I understand better than anyone the irony of California and Mississippi resting at the bottom of the school rankings,” Buck said. “I’ve watched our schools trying to keep up with less and less all the time.”

Student Mariana Rojas said budget cuts are having a disheartening effect on students.

Mariana Rojas addresses the crowd“The budget cuts have undermined the determination and the inspiration and the spirit that we all need so much,” Rojas said. “Some of my classmates have become hopeless – hopeless in a land that was built on dreams and hopes. My goal has become the goal of so many others – we should all be fighting for our education.”

California continues to rank nearly last in the nation in per-pupil spending. Thousands of local schools have cut art and music programs, school transportation, tutoring programs, school libraries and countless other programs and services. Speakers called on state legislators to keep the promise they made to students in last year’s budget agreement and reject the $4 billion cut to public education proposed by Gov. Schwarzenegger in his May budget revision.

The Costs of an Education: Why Students Matter in November

Meg Whitman just spent $100 million in her bid for Governor of California, $91 of which came from her own pocket. It disgusts me that a candidate who claims she can get California on the right track injects into her campaign millions of her own wealth to fuel her own ambitions and propaganda. What could come of that money? Surely, enough to ease some of problems facing hardworking Californians. For students, this money could actually place importance on the value of our education. It made me wonder what this money could do for the student who couldn’t return to college this fall because of a reduction in his financial aid, about the student who couldn’t pay the latest UC fee hikes, and about the student whose family cannot afford to send her to college at all.

Attorney General Jerry Brown, on the other hand, knows the issues facing parents and students, starting two public schools in Oakland in his tenure as Mayor. He understands the value of an education and how to engage students with all interests. Brown whole-heartedly agrees that more attention must be due to California’s public school system in order for it to survive. Similarly, we must also turn to leaders like Mayor Gavin Newsom, whose City and County of San Francisco shines in California as the epitome of innovative ideas and pragmatic solutions put to practice.

As young people become more disenfranchised by California’s political system, it is crucial to change the status quo that is tearing our state apart. Those who place personal ambition over proposing legitimate solutions to fix California must be stopped. As a student who fears the loans awaiting her upon graduation, I highly trust Brown and Newsom’s abilities to help students like myself gain affordable higher education.

One of Mayor Newsom’s main priorities as a candidate for Lieutenant Governor is to get the public education system back on track, by increasing the quality and accessibility of schools within the CSU and UC systems. He understands every student’s desire for a quality education without being penalized by endless fees, finding themselves ineligible for state grants, and carrying a heavy burden of loans upon graduating. Higher education should be accessible to all, regardless of financial background. How else will California move forward with the leaders of tomorrow if they can’t afford the rights to an education?

While shaking up San Francisco, Mayor Newsom made unprecedented progress in promoting an affordable and accessible higher education by launching “SF Promise,” an initiative that guarantees an college education, with financial support provided, at San Francisco State university to all qualified San Francisco State Unified School District students. Projects like this, which benefits hundreds of students, can easily grow at the state level, spurring enrollment in colleges across the state.

The partnership of Brown and Newsom in Sacramento will bring the Golden State out of a depression it suffers on all levels. Our state will thrive once again through job growth, environmental protection, reduced crime rates, clean energy expansion, a strong education system, and so much more that will rebuild California.

Students of California, this is our election to win. We can no longer sit and watch as unqualified persons are elected to office only to serve private interests. By mobilizing by the thousands, we’ll be able to fight for our rights as young people looking towards a brighter future. By electing Gavin Newsom for Lt. Governor, we’ll have our voice heard on the UC Board of Regents and CSU Board of Trustees, strongly fighting for affordable education for everyone. No more will students forego a higher education or be prevented from returning to school. Please join students from across the state as we build the movement to reform California at www.studentsforgavinnewsom.com.

Manisha Goud is the Los Angeles Regional Director for Students for Gavin Newsom. Join Students for Gavin Newsom on Facebook at www.facebook.com/studentsfornewsom.

Students, Gavin Newsom, and the 2010 CDP Convention

After the preparations had been made, the tally sheets from our phone calls completed, the carpools worked out, and the volunteers scheduled, I headed to Los Angeles with the hope that after the weekend was complete, there would be no question in the minds of the CDP delegates that Gavin Newsom has the grassroots support necessary to win the Lt. Governor’s race against whatever the GOP throws at us in November.

In the weeks prior to the convention, our team of students from all across the state had been talking to delegates, volunteers, and fellow young voters about Mayor Newsom’s candidacy and about his bold, new ideas that will be required to dig California out of our seemingly never ending state of economic misery.

The pitch was not hard to make. Young people are drawn to Newsom’s campaign. We see public higher education becoming unaffordable to more and more Californians. We fear that in five or ten years our state won’t be able to compete in an evolving global economy, and we worry that the living wage jobs that we will need in order to support our families will be harder and harder to find. While we are confident that our state will come to its senses when it comes to Gay Marriage and LGBT rights, we are concerned that the relentless beat of the status quo won’t provide the framework necessary to drastically change the way we look at issues like immigration, the environment, and budget & tax reform. We have watched the forces of regressiveness drag our state (and our futures) under the surface, and we are ready and eager to support Gavin Newsom, who has proven time and time again in San Francisco that tangible change is not only possible, but it is also necessary.

This is why over 100 enthusiastic volunteers showed up to the state Democratic Party convention this weekend in support of Gavin Newsom. If you were in LA, you may have seen us trailing the candidate as he greeted throngs of excited delegates in the hallways, waiting in the back of crowded caucus rooms to welcome him and hear him speak, or waving signs and holding coffees while passing out muffins on a street corner early on Saturday morning.

The high number of young people supporting Gavin Newsom’s campaign for LG is a testament to the appeal of his dynamic candidacy and engaging personality. Young voters are the bellwether of the coming decades of California Politics, and we are ready to not only vote for, but also work to produce real change. We came out in full force for President Obama, we overwhelmingly opposed Props 4 and 8, and we vented our fear and anger over cuts to higher education during protests up and down the state this past year.

Young people have proven over the last two years that we are ready to lead the next wave of progressive politics in this state. We look at Sacramento and see a broken system that needs fixing, quickly. Income inequality is on the rise, unemployment is approaching record highs, and an archaic budget and tax code protects the interests of the most conservative politicians in the state and stifles any hope of reform. At the same time, we turn to San Francisco and see a city with universal healthcare, universal pre-school, paid sick-leave, and the highest minimum wage in the nation, and we are given a reason to have hope for the future. Because of his track record, my generation feels that we share a vision for the future with Gavin Newsom.  Because of this, we are ready to ensure that he has the opportunity to prove himself on a statewide level. If you were at the convention last weekend, you may have caught a glimpse of that.

You can join Students for Gavin Newsom on Facebook: facebook.com/studentsfornewsom

With Michelle Obama’s Visit, University of California Merced Gets Its Day

Nothing has ever come easy to the University of California Merced and that makes this Saturday’s commencement of the first four year graduating class a profound moment for the San Joaquin Valley.

When First Lady Michelle Obama honors the class of 2009 by delivering the commencement speech, it will no doubt be time to take stock of how far this area has moved forward to educate its children. I will be there to applaud the graduates and the often ignored but always tenacious Central Valley community.

UC Merced is now a 2,700-student campus. It has breathed new life and vitality into the San Joaquin Valley and given thousands of high school students a sense of purpose. This first graduating class will showcase how the Merced campus will continue to embrace San Joaquin Valley students and others who might not otherwise attend a UC campus.

More over the flip…

For many years, the planning of the UC Merced campus has also given me a sense of purpose, because the Central Valley is my foundation and plays a significant role in the Golden State. I became a founding member and chairman of the UC Merced Foundation Board, because I knew the importance of having a campus in the Central Valley for the state. There were countless obstacles to get the campus up and running from fundraising to environmental regulations. There will other roadblocks in the future as the newest UC campus grows. But the campus will prevail, because UC Merced has gumption and drive. That is why First Lady Obama is speaking at the graduation ceremony.

I cannot overemphasize how important UC Merced is to the Central Valley. Economic and cultural lightening struck when the campus opened its doors. The resources of a world-class educational system located in Merced will help stimulate both the economic and cultural status of the region and the state.

There is nowhere but up for the UC Merced class of 2009 and the San Joaquin Valley. My hat is off to the graduates, their parents and the community.

States Move to Create Culture of Voter Engagement through Preregistration

By Erin Ferns

The rising levels of voter participation among the nation’s youth continue to be challenged by the current voter registration system, perpetuating the difficulty of fostering lifelong voters. Some states are proposing to take this challenge into their own hands by making voter registration accessible to citizens as young as 16. Already widely accessible at schools and departments of motor vehicles, the move would allow future voters in some states to automatically be enrolled on the voter rolls on their 18th birthdays, a change that advocates say could “close the registry gap between young voters and the rest of the population.”  

California and Rhode Island are among the states that have introduced legislation permitting 16- and 17-year-old citizens to register to vote in advance of their 18th birthdays. Rhode Island bills, SB 85 and HB 5005 show promise to pass the legislature – a prospect that is nothing new to the state, which has passed such bills three years in a row only to have them vetoed by the governor, according to research and advocacy group, Fair Vote.

“It’s good public policy to get young people involved as early as possible in the democratic process,” said Fair Vote Rhode Island Director Matt Sledge in Brown University’s Daily Herald last week. The preregistration bill, he said, would “close the registry gap between young voters and the rest of the population.”

Today, multiple states allow certain citizens under age 18 to preregister to vote, including Rhode Island and California. However, Hawaii and Florida are the only states to have enacted dedicated preregistration laws that permit all citizens as young as 16 to register to vote, which advocates argue is the best way to incorporate youth into the democratic process.

Institutionalizing preregistration not only makes it easier to conduct and participate in voter registration activities on high school campuses and DMVs since it captures more young people before they graduate, but it also helps “boost the effectiveness of civics education by tying it directly to civic participation through the opportunity to preregister,” according to a Fair Vote report. The report further notes that “uniform” preregistration laws, like those in Hawaii and Florida, help alleviate general voter registration ills by acting as a “cost-effective step toward greater standardization, which means a cleaner, more accurate data set. Pre-registration could also save money and minimize human error by allowing students to register year round at points of civic engagement and education…”

Advocates say California is a prime place to engage and enfranchise its diverse population, which is “especially apparent in high schools today.” According to a 2007 proposal for preregistration in California by the public policy group, New America Foundation, “if young people are not hooked into democratic institutions and practices while they’re in high school, it becomes more difficult to do so after they leave high school.”

The group emphasized that young people become more difficult to “contact or engage” directly after high school, resulting in a “‘disengagement cycle’ that becomes increasingly difficult to break. High school, in many cases, is the final opportunity to fully engage young people about participating in our democracy. Having common sense practices for engaging young people in high school is crucial. One of the most effective efforts is to lower the age for voter registration to sixteen.”

Although California has yet to pass a bill to lower the voter registration age to 16, there is still an effort underway. Last week, preregistration bill AB 30 was reported favorably out of committee last week. It is now pending in the Assembly committee on Appropriations.

California and Rhode Island also show that they are on the right track toward engaging young people by mandating schools to serve as voter registration agencies or to facilitate drives on campus, both effective ways to facilitate civic engagement through education. The next step is to combine those good laws with legislation to lower the “effective engagement age” in order to capture more future voters while helping standardize the voter registration system in general.

Rhode Island senator and sponsor of SB 85, Rhoda Perry agrees that preregistration would “get more people involved in the civic process,” the Brown Daily Herald reported. The only problem with the bill, she said, is that “the governor vetoes it.” There is hope for future voters in Rhode Island, however, as preregistration is increasing gaining support in the legislature, a change that Perry said may be just enough to override the governor’s veto.

To monitor youth voting bills in these states, visit www.electionlegislation.orgor subscribe to the weekly Election Legislation digest, featuring election bills in all 50 states, by emailing Erin Ferns at eferns [at] projectvote.org.