Speak UP has joined a coalition campaigning for passage of Measure EE, which is expected to generate $500 million a year for all Los Angeles public schools, both district and charter. The coalition campaigning for Yes On EE includes Great Public Schools Now, Parent Revolution, United Teachers Los Angeles and SEIU Local 99, the union representing LAUSD bus drivers and cafeteria workers.
Speak UP parents began going door to door this week to encourage friends and neighbors to head to the polls June 4 to vote yes on Measure EE, which would charge 16 cents per square foot on commercial and residential property. If it passes, nearly 80% of these funds will come from commercial property owners.
"It's shameful that California, one of the wealthiest states in the nation, remains near the bottom in per pupil funding,” said Speak UP Founder and CEO Katie Braude. “Los Angeles voters now have a chance to begin to change that trajectory for more than half a million kids. Our kids deserve these funds, and if we want to have any chance of reducing class sizes and putting more resources in our kids' classrooms, Measure EE must pass. We plan to do everything we can to help make that happen."
Because the turnout is expected to be so low for this election — the experts are forecasting between 8% and 16% — every vote counts. And every vote is needed since the measure requires two-thirds approval for passage.
Mayor Eric Garcetti, who has thrown his support behind the measure, praised Speak UP and its coalition partners for their efforts.
“When it comes to Measure EE and fighting for our kids, we're all in the fight together,” Garcetti said. “I am grateful that Great Public Schools Now, Parent Revolution and Speak UP are working so hard to pass Measure EE and lower class sizes in every school.”
Garcetti also reminded Angelenos that mail-in voting is now open for the June 4 election. "We need change in 2020, and we need change right now,” he said. “We can immediately make a difference in the future of Los Angeles and the future of America…by voting yes on EE to lower class sizes for our kids and build a brighter American future.”
Also campaigning for Measure EE are the Los Angeles Democratic Party and organizations such as the California Community Foundation and InnerCity Struggle.
California is in the bottom tier of states when it comes to per pupil spending, and several states, including New York, spend more than twice what California does per student. According to a report from the California Budget & Policy Center, California has the largest K-12 class sizes of any state in the nation.
The LAUSD board recently voted to create an Independent Taxpayer Oversight Committee to ensure that funds from Measure EE are used for their intended purpose – to help kids in the classrooms. That was a key element that Speak UP urged the board to adopt and which contributed to the decision to actively campaign for Measure EE.
Elia Covarrubias is one of several Speak UP parents who began canvassing in support of Measure EE in her District 5 neighborhood in Southeast Los Angeles this week.
“LAUSD says they don’t have money for less students in classrooms, more nurses, more staff,” Covarrubias said. “This is important to me because right now, it’s affecting my son. He’s in special education and he’s not getting the services he should be getting. And what I’m [hearing] is, ‘There’s no funds.’”
Measure EE, she added, will create “a better future for all of our kids” and will enable “all of our students to have what they should be getting from school. Because they are first. They are the future. So it’s not only my son. It’s all kids.”