California’s budget crisis and the worst recession in 70 years has led to tremendous and devastating cutbacks in education funding.
“We are pushing back against this attack on public education because our students will feel these cuts for many, many years. The potential lay off of so many educators will hurt our communities and California’s future.”
According to a release from CTA:
“California’s public schools, colleges and universities are facing more than $11 billion in state budget cuts. These cuts are going to impact an entire generation of kids and alter public education for years to come.
March 13 is the deadline for school districts to issue preliminary pink slips to California’s teachers. Last year, more than 10,000 teachers got pink slips and nearly 5,000 lost their jobs. And this year could be much worse.”
I have seen notices that there will be protests in Woodland, in Sacramento by a coalition of different teaching organizations from across the metro area, and while I have not seen the notice, I understand there will be a protest in Davis as well.
We have had a long and lengthy discussion of the prospect of teachers taking paycuts in Davis. Across the state, the California Teachers Association has given orders to local teachers unions not to take paycuts even if it means saving the jobs of teachers. While I believe that to be a mistake, I also think we can get too hung up on that.
There is a bigger and much more tragic problem. We have cut $11 billion in spending to public schools, community colleges, and the CSU and UC system. That is an incredible blow for education.
We do have a budget crisis. It is very severe. And we had to take drastic measures in order to prevent catastrophe at the statewide level a few weeks ago.
But let us not pretend everything is okay. Education is more than simply a budget item. It is an investment in the future of society. Our children are the next generation of leaders, business people, doctors, teachers, lawyers, policymakers, etc. When we cut from investments in the future to save our present fiscal condition, we are mortgaging the future to subsidize our own wasteful and at times irresponsible behavior.
We do not get a second chance to get these children a first-rate education. Even before this current economic crisis, California was falling behind the rest of the nation in education funding and most importantly educational scores.
In Friday’s Sacramento Bee, there was an article on the Davis Schools Foundation and their drive to stave off teacher layoffs. They have suggested that donor fatigue may be setting in.
That does not surprise me. I have very mixed feelings myself. Last year, I enthusiastically supported the movement to save 114 teaching positions. The community came together and raised $1.7 million. And then we went far further than that.
Just one year after approving Measure Q, a parcel tax, we approved Measure W. Because of Measure W, the district has an additional $2.4 million that would have been enough were it not for the state’s budget quagmire.
In the process of supporting Measure W however, I vowed that this would be all I asked the community to give. Some in the community were understandably reluctant to give even that. But come election time, the community came through and gave an additional $2.4 million. As far as I am concerned, the community has done its job, it has supported education. It has supported vital programs such as elementary school science, music, and art. It has supported a reduction in class sizes. It has supported the offering of a seventh period for some high school students. It has supported library services and counseling services.
The community has stepped up to the plate and supported education. If the rest of California were willing and able to do the same, we could reduce much of that 18,000 number.
The Sacramento Bee interviewed Alan Anderson, DSF President whom the Vanguard had on its radio show last year promoting the dollar-a-day effort.
“We’re going to have to do something in a short period of time again. We’re going to have to unveil (our campaign) and run like crazy.”
“The foundation will have to convince donors that their dollars will be put to good use. Anderson said he’s already heard from parents who are ready to give again, and others who say they can’t do it because of financial problems.”
However it is not just the economy, this year is going to be a tougher sell as Mr. Anderson acknowledges:
“It’s not just the economy. No one wants to be in a repeat situation.
Board President Gina Daleiden is also skeptical about a new fundraising effort after what we did last year and believing that our problems were mostly solved.
“I don’t think we can expect a massive fundraising effort on the scale we had last year.”
For those concerned that the community will be asked to help balance the budget again, read what Superintendent James Hammond said. He was listening loud and clear last fall.
“We can’t keep coming to the community to balance our budget problems year after year. We have to take ownership of our fiscal position and create a solvent budget that preserves programs for the children.”
From my standpoint, the community has already stepped up. They stepped up in 2007 with the passage of Measure Q. They stepped up last spring with $1.7 million in the dollar-a-day campaign. And they stepped up again this fall by approving an additional $120 parcel tax on top of the $200 for Measure Q.
What I would like to see is the teachers step up and support our community by making it possible that we do not have to cut education programs this year. Yes we are asking the teachers to sacrifice. But many in this community have sacrificed themselves to enable Davis to retain all of its teachers last year.
We are in a crisis in education in this state. We all need to join together and get through this. $11 billion in cuts to education is unacceptable. That is money we are stealing from our future generations. That needs to stop. There is a reason the voters approved Proposition 98.
I was willing to support the budget because things would get so much worse without its passage. But the bigger issue is enough is enough. We need to get control of spending that is out of control such as on imprisoning non-violent offenders and clogging out court system with such cases.
That is just the beginning. We cannot longer borrow from our future to finance the present and the past.
—David M. Greenwald reporting