Eugene Weekly : Viewpoint : 5.12.11

Why You Benefit
From educating my little tax deductions
By Mary DeMocker

Chosen sides in Eugenes school tax fight? Theres no neutrality option, sorry. In the “yes” corner: parents, education advocates and kids. In the “no” corner: Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the national right-wing Tea Party-affiliate whose Eugene chapter named themselves ã get ready ã Citizens for Jobs and Schools.

The stakes? A “yes” retains 100 teachers, preventing the addition of four to seven kids per class, and restores lost instructional days. A “no” (or non-vote) allows the deepest cuts and ã importantly ã furthers AFPs agenda. AFP has declared our local measure a priority for their foot soldiers to defeat. Why? Funded by the mega-rich Koch brothers, AFP isnt only against new taxes; they want education privatized, and hope Measure 20-182s defeat helps open the door for trampling public schools. AFP wants unregulated free enterprise, and works to destroy unions, health care programs, NPR, NEA, consumer and environmental laws, and public education. If that alone isnt enough for you to crayon “yes!” across your ballot, here are 12 reasons why supporting Measure 20-182 benefits you.

« Bored kids probably wont TP your house on furlough days. If theyre in school and have good opportunities, theyll be busy heading toward their own prosperity.

« My kids will pay your Social Security. Dream away about shuffleboard, RV-ing, Medicare ã all at my kids expense because you helped them get decent educations, which will help them find jobs.

« Eugenes school violence risk will be lowered. Researchers advocated anti-bullying and violence prevention programs after the nation was shaken by several school shootings ã including here at Thurston. Dr. Scott Poland, an internationally recognized expert on school violence prevention, states, “We need to build connections between students and all adults and, very importantly, their schools … [and] take care of [students] social and emotional welfare. We need to build relationships with every student. Its not just Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. Theres a fourth •R ã Relationship.” How can teachers “build relationships” with so danged many children? Eugenes impending closure of six schools will dismantle several communities, making it even more critical to hold the line on overcrowding. Students will be safer. Period.

« Your neighbors will yell less. Families are distressed by closings and cuts. Michelle Obamas quote speaks for most moms: “Im only as happy as my most unhappy child.” Reasonable classes make families happier, and that means better neighborhoods.

« Your town wont go down the toilet. One hundred laid-off teachers can contribute to a downward spiral in burdened social services, decreased revenue and depressed housing prices. Measure 20-182 tells potential investors and business relocation prospects that Eugene is still committed to world-class schools. Economic consultants ECONorthwest found that this tax will be “a large net benefit to the Lane County economy,” creating or retaining 250 jobs.

« You can feel less embarrassed about Oregon. Only Missouri has fewer instructional days ã two ã than Oregon. Without this tax, Eugene has three fewer weeks than most states. Teachers must cover the same material regardless of how many instructional days theyre given. Fewer days means “teaching to the test” more than ever.

« Your town will remain autonomous. A “yes” vote tells out-of-state conservatives to stay out of our local politics ã and our schools.

« Youll be distinguished from barbarians, defined as people “without culture or education.” Barbarians miss basic concepts. For example, individuals neednt haul water from the Willamette because we worked together to create EWEB. Weve also created libraries, roads, parks, fire stations and Medicare. AFP calls this socialism. Most of us call it civilization.

« Youll be a public education champion. AFP is targeting 20-182 to advance its national anti-public education agenda. The rationale? If liberal Eugene submits to AFP attacks, America might surrender to privatization. Instead, hand public education a victory.

« you’re less likely to catch diseases. Without 20-182, therell be 31-plus elementary students per class, nine more sneezers, coughers and nose-pickers than in 2008. High school classes? Up to 57. Smaller classes means fewer epidemics.

« Youll avoid the worse evil. Yes, this measure is imperfect, but its the only fix left. It buys us time. Opponents offer absolutely nothing to prevent those devastating cuts for 2011-12.

« Youll feel good. Kids will feel good. Studies show people feel better when they perform or even witness kindness. Our kids are watching to see how much their needs matter. Wouldnt it feel good to support them now, and model one generation helping the next?

Mary DeMocker has two children in 4J schools. She can be reached at