Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Asian Pacific Community:
The 2010 Census data documents what many of us know and see in our communities. The Asian Pacific American population is among the fastest-growing and most ethnically diverse racial groups in the U.S., and our numbers have never been larger.
As a third-generation Japanese American whose ancestors first came to America before the 1900s, I have come to fully appreciate my family’s struggle and the contributions that they made. One example is my Great Uncle George Shima, known as the “Potato King” for giving away potatoes from his Stockton farm after the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco. He also fought against the 1924 Asian Exclusion Act and advocated for the civil rights of Japanese Americans.
We all have stories as immigrants, some as refugees and second-language learners, and we share the common experience of being perceived either as the enemy, invisible or the “model minority.”
Today, I feel that our story must include the fight for public education, which I believe has become one of the civil rights issues of today. There are two propositions on the November ballot — Propositions 30 and 32 — that will greatly influence the future of public education.
Funding for California’s public schools and universities has eroded since the passage of Proposition 13 over 40 years ago. The once high-quality and stellar public education system that was known all over the world now ranks near the bottom of the nation in state funding provided to our schools. California schools also have the largest class sizes in the nation, plus the fewest librarians and school counselors. The tuition for our colleges and universities has skyrocketed.
Public schools are very important because they open their doors to everyone, and it doesn’t matter what you look like, how much money your parents make, or where you are from. A YES on Proposition 30 will bring $8 billion to $10 billion annually into public education.
As a speech therapist in the Los Angeles Unified School District and the treasurer of UTLA (United Teachers Los Angeles), the second-largest teachers’ union in the nation, I am passionate about the fight for a quality public education for every child and youth. I believe that this is the American dream that we want for all of our children, grandchildren and future generations, an education that leads to a productive working life.
Living in this democratic country gives us the privilege of participating in the direction that we want for this country. One of the ways we can do this is by becoming citizens and voting on Nov. 6. We can also encourage our family and friends to vote.
A YES on Proposition 30 brings money into public education from kindergarten to the college level. It is paid for by adjusting the tax rate so that those in the highest tax brackets pay their fair share of taxes and the rest of us contribute a quarter of one percent in sales tax.
A NO on Proposition 32 means that the voices of educators, firefighters, nurses, policemen and other public workers will not be silenced from having a political voice. The measure claims to be about stopping special interests, but it is a misleading measure that gives more power to Super PACs, corporate special interests and billionaires even though they already outspend unions 15 to 1.
This means that Asian Pacific Islander community organizations that support and fight for the everyday people in our communities will be suppressed too. We cannot let that happen.
Please join with me in lifting your voice in voting YES on Proposition 30, NO on Proposition 32 and supporting the Obama/Biden ticket, which puts us on the path toward a better future for this country, one that is more equal, and democratic.
Arlene Inouye, UTLA Treasurer
The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.