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October 18, 2005 > A proposition primer

A proposition primer

Eight propositions face Californians when they visit the polls next month. The following is a brief synopsis of Propositions 73 - 75. In our next issue, TCV will review Proositions 76 - 80. All information has been edited for brevity. Full discussion and comments can be found at www.smartvoter.com which has links to a variety of websites that fully discuss these propositions.

Proposition 73, if passed, requires notification of a parent or legal guardian of an unemancipated, pregnant minor at least 48 hours before performing an abortion on the minor. (Constitutional Amendment)

Background from Legislative Analyst:

In 1953, a state law was enacted that allowed minors to receive, without parental consent or notification, the same types of medical care for a pregnancy that are available to an adult. Based on this law and later legal developments related to abortion, minors were able to obtain abortions without parental consent or notification.

In 1987, the Legislature amended this law to require minors to either obtain the consent of a parent or a court before obtaining an abortion. However, due to legal challenges, the law was never implemented, and the California Supreme Court ultimately struck it down in 1997. Consequently, minors in the state currently receive abortion services to the same extent as adults. This includes minors in various state health care programs, such as the Medi-Cal health care program for low-income individuals.

Pro Argument:
In California, a daughter under 18 can't get an aspirin from the school nurse, get a fl u shot, or have a tooth pulled without a parent knowing. However, surgical or chemical abortions can be secretly performed on minor girls-even 13 years old or younger-without parents' knowledge. Parents are then not prepared to help young daughters with any of the serious physical, emotional, or psychological complications which may result from an abortion or to protect their daughters from further sexual exploitation and pregnancies.

Investigations have shown that secret abortions on minors in California are rarely reported to child protective services although these pregnancies are evidence of statutory rape and sexual abuse. This leaves these girls vulnerable to further sexual abuse, rapes, pregnancies, abortions, and sexually transmitted diseases.

If she chooses, a minor may petition juvenile court to permit an abortion without notifying a parent. She can request a lawyer to help her. If the evidence shows she is mature enough to decide for herself or that notifying a parent is not in her best interests, the judge will grant her petition. The proceedings must be confidential, prompt, and free. She may also seek help from juvenile court if she is being coerced by anyone to consent to an abortion.

Con Argument:
Parents rightfully want to be involved in their teenagers' lives and all parents want what is best for their children. But good family communication can't be imposed by government.

This law puts those vulnerable teenagers - those who most need protection - in harm's way, or forces them to go to court. Think about it: the girl is already terrified, she's pregnant, her family is abusive or worse. She's not going to be marching up to a judge in a crowded courthouse. She doesn't need a judge, she needs a counselor.

The real answer to teen pregnancy is prevention, and strong, caring families - not new laws that endanger our daughters.

But if - for whatever reason - our daughters can't or they won't come to us, we must make sure they get safe, professional medical attention and quality counseling from caring doctors and nurses.


Proposition 74, if passed, increases the probationary period for public school teachers from two to five years and modifies the process by which school boards can dismiss a permanent certificated employee. (Initiative Statute)

Background from Legislative Analyst:

From 1927 to 1982, California had a three-year probationary period. Over this time, probationary employees typically had at least limited legal rights to challenge dismissal decisions. The most recent major change to the state's probationary policies occurred in 1983 when the probationary period was shortened from three to two years. In addition, certain legal protections then afforded to probationary employees were removed. These policies remain in effect today.

Most of the employees of K-12 school districts are referred to as "certificated" employees. These consist mainly of teachers but also include instructional specialists, counselors, and librarians. All of these employees must have some type of license (or certificate) prior to being employed by a district to show basic qualifications in their job area.
Under current state law, certificated employees serve a probationary period during their first two years of service with a school district. During the probationary period, state law currently requires certificated employees to be evaluated at least once a year. At the end of the employees' first or second year, school districts may choose not to rehire them without offering specific reasons. If not rehired, probationary employees do not have the right to challenge the decision. At the start of their third year, certificated employees are considered permanent (or tenured).

Under current state law, permanent certificated employees may be dismissed for unsatisfactory performance as well as a variety of other reasons (such as dishonesty and unprofessional conduct). Most permanent employees must be evaluated at least once every two years. If, however, they receive an unsatisfactory evaluation, they must be assessed annually until they achieve a satisfactory evaluation or are dismissed. Regardless of the reason for a dismissal, the dismissal process (also set forth in state law) consists of about a dozen stages. The process begins with a school district specifying reasons for dismissal and providing a 30-day notice of its intent to dismiss. If requested by the employee, the process includes a formal administrative hearing and the right to appeal to a Superior Court and then a Court of Appeal. Before being dismissed for unsatisfactory performance, the school district must first provide employees a 90-day period to allow them an opportunity to improve their performance.

Pro Argument:
Fighting the rules, regulations, and bureaucracy that protects unfit teachers squanders money that should be going to the classroom! Today, even problem teachers are virtually guaranteed "employment for life."

Prop. 74 Is About Making Sure Our Students Have the Best Possible Teachers:
¥Requires teachers to perform well for five years instead of just two before they become eligible for permanent "guaranteed" employment.
¥With a five-year waiting period, teachers have more opportunity to demonstrate expertise and that they deserve tenure. ¥Principals have more time to evaluate teachers.
¥Makes it easier to remove a tenured teacher after two consecutive unsatisfactory evaluations.
¥Improves the quality of our teachers by rewarding the best teachers and weeding out problem teachers.

Con Argument:
Proposition 74 is deceptive, unnecessary, and unfair. It won't improve student achievement and it won't help reform public education in any meaningful way. Furthermore, it will cost school districts tens of millions of dollars to implement.

Proposition 74 doesn't reduce class size or provide new textbooks, computers, or other urgently needed learning materials. It doesn't improve teacher training or campus safety. Nor does it increase educational funding or fix one leaking school roof.

Proposition 74 is deceptive because it misleads people about how teacher employment really works. California teachers are not guaranteed a job for life, which means they don't have tenure. All teachers receive after a two-year probationary period is the right to a hearing before they are dismissed.

Proposition 74 is unfair to teachers because it takes away their right to a hearing before they are fired. We give criminals the right to due process, and our teachers deserve those fundamental rights, as well.
Over the next 10 years, we will need 100,000 new teachers. Proposition 74 hurts our ability to recruit and retain quality teachers while doing absolutely nothing to improve either teacher performance or student achievement. Proposition 74 hurts young teachers most. It will discourage young people from entering the teaching profession at this critical time.

This unnecessary anti-teacher initiative was put on the ballot for only one reason -to punish teachers for speaking out against the governor's poor record on education and criticizing him for breaking his promise to fully fund our schools.

Proposition 75, if passed, requires unions to obtain annual written consent from members to use a portion of their annual dues for political activity. (Initiative Statute)

Background from Legislative Analyst:
Groups of government employees-like employees in the private sector-can choose to have a union represent them in negotiations with their employers over salaries, benefits, and other conditions of employment. Individual government employees may choose whether or not to join the union that represents their group of employees. A union's negotiations affect all employees in the group-both members and nonmembers of the union. As a result, members of the group-whether they join a union or not-typically pay a certain level of dues and/or fees to a union for these bargaining and representation services.

A union of government employees may engage in other types of activities unrelated to bargaining and representation. For instance, public employee unions may decide to charge additional dues for various political purposes, including supporting and opposing political candidates and issues. Any fees collected from a nonmember of a union cannot be used for these types of political purposes if the nonmember objects. Each year, unions must publicly report what share of their expenditures was for political purposes.

Pro:
There's a fundamental unfairness in California:
¥ Hundreds of thousands of public employee union members are forced to contribute their hard earned money to political candidates or issues they may oppose.
¥ Powerful and politically connected union leaders-a small handful of people-can make unilateral decisions with these "forced contributions" to fund political campaigns without their members' consent. The workers have no choice-money is automatically deducted from their dues.
¥Firefighters, police officers, teachers, and other public employees work hard for the people of California and we owe them a huge debt for the work they do on our behalf. That's why it's only fair that public employees give their permission before their hard earned dollars are taken and given to politicians and political campaigns.
¥Many public employee union members don't support the political agenda of the union bosses and it's not right that they are forced to contribute to political candidates and campaigns they oppose:
¥ Campaign finance records document that several public employee unions have spent more than $2 million to qualify a ballot measure that would raise property taxes by billions of dollars-rolling back Proposition 13 protections.
¥ Many members of these unions may oppose this, but the union leaders just take the money and spend it even though individual union members may disagree. That's not right and it's not fair.

Con:
Prop. 75 is unnecessary and unfair. Its hidden agenda is to weaken public employees and strengthen the political influence of big corporations. Prop. 75 does not protect the rights of teachers, nurses, police, and firefighters. Instead it's designed to reduce their ability to respond when politicians would harm education, health care, and public safety.
In 1998, voters rejected a similar proposition and union members voted 'No' overwhelmingly.

Prop. 75 only restricts public employees. It does not restrict corporations-even though corporations spend shareholders' money on politics. The nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics says corporations already outspend
unions in politics nationally by 24 to 1. Prop. 75 will make this imbalance even worse.

No public employee in California can be forced to become a member of a union. Non-members pay fees to the union
for collective bargaining services, but the U.S. Supreme Court has consistently ruled that unions cannot use these fees for political purposes. The union must send financial statements to the worker to ensure that no unauthorized fees are used for politics. Today, 25% of state employees contribute no money to their union's political activities. Union members already have the right to democratically vote their leaders into and out of office and to establish their own internal rules concerning political contributions. Prop. 75 takes away union members' right to make their own decisions and substitutes a government-imposed bureaucratic process.

Prop. 75 requires members who want to participate to sign a government-imposed personal disclosure form that could be circulated in the workplace. This form, with information about individual employees and their political contributions, could be accessed by a state agency-an invasion of individual privacy which could raise the possibility of intimidation and retaliation against employees on the job.

Proposition 76, if passed, creates an additional state spending limit, grants the governor substantial new power to unilaterally reduce state spending and revise key provisions relating to Proposition 98, school and community college funding and transportation funding authorized by Proposition 42. (Constitutional Amendment)

 
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