By Angela Penny
July 28, 2012
Gov. Jerry Brown is making a ‘hail Mary’ pass to save California’s public schools from $6 billion in budget cuts with Proposition 30, a measure on the November ballot that will temporarily increases taxes for the state’s highest earners.
“These institutions are at the breaking point,” Brown wrote in an email supporting the “campaign to protect schools and public safety” that was sent to his supporters. “In the last four years alone, schools have been hit with $20 billion in cuts and a loss of more than 30,000 educators.”
Sascha Rice, a filmmaker and the granddaughter of Edmund G. “Pat” Brown — Jerry’s father — says people forget that the Golden State was built on a policy of “fair taxation.”
Her documentary, “California State of Mind: The Legacy of Pat Brown,” airs on PBS stations through May 2013.
Pat Brown governed the state from 1958 to 1966.
As a young man, Pat Brown couldn’t afford to go to college. He put together the “Master Plan for Higher Education” in 1960, which dramatically increased access to higher education across the state. The documentary notes that in 2009, at the time it was produced, students protested budget cuts by holding mock funerals for “The Master Plan.”
The documentary is a loving and thoroughly researched tribute to her grandparents, key figures in California history.
“He would be heartbroken,” Rice’s mother, Kathleen Brown, says in the documentary, regarding the severe cuts affecting public education in California today.
In the film, Jerry Brown recounts putting student activist Mario Savio on the phone with his father to try and negotiate a nonviolent resolution to the Free Speech Riots of 1964.
These were the first protests of this kind. Students wanted the freedom to distribute political pamphlets on campus.
The demonstrations intensified and were one of the key issues Ronald Reagan focused on to get elected to the office of governor in 1967.
“He demanded a legislative investigation of alleged Communism and sexual misconduct at the University of California at Berkeley,” Gary K. Clabaugh wrote in 2004 in the journal “Educational Horizons.”
Once elected, Reagan called for an end to free tuition and systematically attacked public funding for higher education in California, according to Clabaugh.
“Get them out of there. Throw them out. They are spoiled and don’t deserve the education they are getting. They don’t have a right to take advantage of our system of education,” Reagan once said, according to a 2004 article in the UC Berkeley News.
“Reagan effectively turned Americans against the idea that government is here to do things for the people,” Rice said.
Jerry Brown’s recent email blast was paid for by the “Yes on Prop. 30” campaign, a coalition of businesses, labor, law enforcement and teachers, according to its website.
“In a time when the smart money has written off the state, this excellent and timely documentary recalls the prosperous past and gives us a bit of hope for the problems confronting the late governor’s son, Jerry Brown,” Bill Boyarsky, a columnist for LA Observed, wrote.