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The Knotted Line

Evan Bissell, Author

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1978: Mine

1978: Proposition 13 passes in California, halting property tax increases and making it more difficult to raise taxes. Schools begin to lose large portions of funding as state schools begin decline from top in the nation to bottom. 

1964: Prop 14 (also in California) exempts most real estate transactions from anti-discrimination laws.

Actions for Self-Determination:
  • 1970: After the 1969 CUNY Open Admissions Strikes, during which 250 Black and Puerto Rican students took over the south campus of City College, the City University of New York meets one of their five demands by guaranteeing admission to every graduate of the city’s high schools. Black and Puerto Rican freshmen enrollment doubles in the first year of the policy. Other demands met: Black and Puerto Rican students are given permission to organize freshman orientation programs; the degree requirements for education majors at City College are changed to include Spanish and ethnic studies; and CUNY requires every college to establish departments or programs in Black or Puerto Rican studies.
  • 2006: 40,000 students in Southern California walk out of schools to protest anti-immigration laws. The march comes on the heels of the largest demonstration in Los Angeles against the same bill (HR 4437), which is later resurrected at the state level.
  • 2012: California voters and state legislature propose the Millionaires Tax to raise revenue for education and social services.
Discussion Questions:
  • Why or why aren't taxes central to a democracy?
  • What would increase your willingness to pay more taxes?
  • Does a democratic society have a responsibility to provide meaningful education to all its citizens? How should this be funded?
  • Voter initiatives can be seen as a form of direct democracy, yet they require large amounts of money to finance, advertise, write and create. How is a voter initiative counter-democratic? How is not? How would they have to be amended to be representative of all society?
  • Read through Warren Buffet's letter about property tax in California. What is his main argument? Do you agree or disagree?

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