The campaign against proposition 38, the school voucher initiative, launched their phone banking drive at the California Teachers Association in Burlingame last night. Teachers, school administrators, and members of the public sat in booths and made cold calls to voters in an effort to educate them about the proposition and urge them to vote no. The drive will continue on weeknights until the election.
"This is a symbol of the grassroots side of our campaign," said Mike Myslinski, campaign coordinator. "People are volunteering their time to protect public education and to stop this attack on neighborhood schools. That, in itself, is significant."
The school vouchers initiative would give $4000 as a voucher to parents who want to withdraw their children from public schools and place them in private schools. If it is adopted by voters, four years later all private school children would be eligible for the voucher. The main message of the phone-bankers is the initiative abandons neighborhood schools, costs taxpayers billions of dollars and provides no accountability to state educational standards.
Proponents of the initiative say it would bring about better education by giving parents a choice-increased competition with private schools might improve the performance of public schools, proponents say.
The reason why the phone banking effort against the proposition works, say organizers, is that it allows one -on-one conversation about the initiative.
Ann Shadwick, a librarian at San Francisco State University and a CTA board member, said she participated in the drive because it is the most effective way to get the message out. "I think it's really important. As much as I don't like phone banks, it's the one-on-one conversation that makes a difference. We ask teachers and members of other associations, our own staff in the building to do this. It seems like someone on the board should be setting an example," she said.
Shadwick was not having too much difficulty with the voters she was reaching- she was working off a list of college professors. "All of them said they would be voting 'no,'" she said.
Jeanny Hu, a CTA employee, was having a bit more difficulty at 5:30 p.m. "A lot of people don't want to talk," she said. "I guess it's normal now. People are having dinner." But despite the difficulty Hu was still committed to the cause.
"I feel it's a need-public school. I'm a mother too. It's a really important issue here," she said. "It will segregate the rich and the poor. I think the public school needs more money."
In addition to the phone-banking drive, the campaign is also running television ads in specific target areas, including San Mateo. One of the ads features Governor Davis speaking against the proposition. They are also speaking to local community organizations, the media, and are urging people to write letters to the editor. The campaign expects to raise more than $10 million, according to Myslinski. "This is the beginning of our strong push," Myslinski said. The Daily Journal was unable to reach proponents for the proposition, which is being led by Silicon Valley venture capitalist, Tim Draper, about their campaign efforts to push through Proposition 38 this election year.