Mr. Mayor, Please Do Your Homework
From Issue: Volume XXII - Number 15
By Taylor Ramsey
The new Long Beach Mayor, Robert Garcia, is a great success story. We learned a tremendous amount about the new mayor during his campaign and I believe he can be an inspiration to many of us.
That said, I was worried he would win as I do not seem to agree with him on many subjects. The mayor provided concrete evidence that my worries were just during his speech on Friday, July 18, at Long Beach State regarding his plan for education. The mayor’s intentions are good but his policies are wrong and fail to take facts and history into account.
I feel like I am reading quotes by President Obama or our state legislators when reading the mayor’s quotes on education.“Providing preschool and doubling the number of student internships are important parts of Long Beach’s education and economic future.” He also said, “Making preschool accessible to all children is not just about education but also the city’s economy.”
Assisting students with internships seems like a good idea to me. However, history, and the facts gained from history, show that providing universal preschool will do almost nothing to help students prepare for school or assist the economy of Long Beach.
The real facts were presented in my column titled “Free Preschool for All” in the Beachcomber on March 7, 2014 (check the archives on-line). In my opinion, the strongest factor to help students succeed is strong parental involvement. Parents, no matter their economic situation, education level or the color of their skin can make all the difference for a child.
Could it be Mayor Garcia is using preschool as a path to providing free child care for those who cannot afford it? The mayor was also quoted in the same speech, “They can go get another job and provide for that family if they have some type of child care, particularly early in that youngster’s life.” Yep, he does want free childcare.
Here is another idea presented by the mayor in his speech that requires all taxpayers to pony up even more money that, again, makes no sense in my opinion. He wishes the city and the community to find a way to provide more affordable housing for teachers and college faculty/staff.
The mayor said, “The key thing here is this is not just a benefit to the faculty, this is a benefit to the city. If we were to build affordable housing in Long Beach for faculty, we would transform that neighborhood overnight.”
Think about his wishes and then ponder these numbers. My research shows for the years 2008-2012 the median income of the wage earner in Long Beach is $52,900. If you go to www.lbschools.net you will see that a full credentialed teacher’s pay begins at $51,306 not to mention full benefits which many of us, like me, do not receive.
If we set the benefits aside, the two numbers are almost identical. You may want to contact Mayor Garcia and ask him why you should help a teacher buy a house when you are probably working like a dog to keep a roof over your own family.
A common theme in my writings is that I believe personal responsibility for one’s lot in life is up to each of us, not government agencies. My neighbors (taxpayers) are not responsible for me making the decision to have a child. They should not be required to provide child care or preschool for my child. My neighbors and I should not be forced to provide an educated adult assistance in buying a home.
The mayor is set on creating a group of citizens who expect and require the government to take care of their needs. In establishing policies such as free preschool, child care and assistance in buying or renting a home there will be more of those in Long Beach who make personal decisions based on free “stuff” provided by government and forgo the work and perseverance required to take care of their own needs. Creating dependence is bad policy.
The mayor’s ideas will turn that forecasted surplus of $3.1 million into another deficit. Mr. Mayor, do all you can to provide the city services taxpayers expect. Do all you can to support schools by providing good facilities, learning materials and competent staff. Do all you can to provide a positive business environment so risk takers can thrive and create jobs.
Mr. Mayor, please do your homework. History does demonstrate that the policies you wish to move forward will hurt in the long run despite how good it feels or well intentioned you are.