Monday, April 14, 2008

Beyond Bake Sales

The Los Angeles Unified School District is facing an horrendous budget short-fall, perhaps as much as $150 million this year and around $350 million over the next two years. Layoff notices have already been mailed to all provisional teachers, and certificated employees (teachers, counselors, librarians) and classified employees (cafeteria workers, bus drivers, maintenance workers) are waiting for the same ugly piece of mail. This scenario is playing out in all the districts across the state.

The reason? California's budget crisis. Far less money will be sent to the public schools this year and for the forseeable future because our Republican governor and his Republican counterparts in the state legislature refuse to consider tax increases to raise the necessary money to run the state and the public school system. All of them ran on the promise never to raise taxes and, by God, they intend to keep those promises.

Steve Lopez, columnist for the Los Angeles Times, found himself covering the problems facing LAUSD in a very personal way: his daughter is attending a public school in Los Angeles. His first column (published April 9, 2008) detailed a parent-school meeting he attended at which the leaders of the parents' group had to beg the parents for money so that certain key personnel could be retained.

The response to Mr. Lopez's column was dramatic and he detailed that response in next column, published in yesterday's edition.

And what about schools where parents can't come up with the dough, as they can at my school and Lane's?

"Our fundraising was not as fruitful," said Cynthia Santos-Decure, whose son is a student in Long Beach. "We will lose our computer instructor, librarian and only have a nurse one or two days a week. Those are just the preliminary cuts. . . . I ask myself, what's next?"

It's anybody's guess. What happened to the days when public education was not just valued, but was seen as a great equalizer in American society, offering a pathway to upward mobility for even the least fortunate students?


What, indeed.

Apparently the Governor and state legislators don't particularly care, which comes as no suprise to Californians who are watching all social service programs slashed to the bone. And that galls Mr. Lopez:

The truth is that political leaders love lying to us about what a civil society costs. They're even willing to trade our children's futures for their political futures, and California is now plummeting toward the bottom tiers in funding per pupil in the United States.

Though it might be hard for Sacramento's pols to understand, sometimes you've got to find the courage to tell yacht owners you're closing their tax loopholes, tell drivers there's a stiff price to pay for a break on the car tax, or do what Reagan and Wilson did, and raise taxes temporarily to avoid draconian cuts.


Yes, that's right: when Ronald Reagan was governor he actually raised taxes to cover a similar shortfall under a measure designed to be a temporary stop gap. It worked. State Republicans either have short memories or they're being intentionally stupid. Either/or, their rabid stance on taxes is killing our schools.

I'm not terribly surprised by the Republican recalcitrance. It's mirrored quite nicely on the national level, as federal funding for educational programs at the state level have also dropped to avoid having those nifty tax cuts for the rich rolled back.

Darrin James, a teacher in Santa Ana, said teachers could be laid off by the hundreds in his district.

"State and federal governments are trying to get out of the education business. They try to blame it on teachers, students, immigration, whatever they can think of. The truth is that the pillar of free education in the world, the United States, is failing its children."
[Emphasis added]

It sure looks that way.

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7 Comments:

Anonymous Gary Ruppert said...

Yes, that's right: when Ronald Reagan was governor he actually raised taxes to cover a similar shortfall under a measure designed to be a temporary stop gap. It worked.

The fact is, this is blood libel. Reagan would NEVER have raised taxes. You are making this up. We will not surrender to the liberal tax and spend machine.

5:24 AM  
Blogger Smitty Werbenmanjensen said...

Asking Ruppert to comment on facts is like asking a Jewish guy to comment on the flavor of a pork chop.

5:46 AM  
Anonymous billy b said...

Rupert, you are brain-dead.

Blood libel? That's asinine.

Leave these ladies alone, you moron.

5:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and Jesus wept.

6:39 AM  
Blogger Steven said...

'Intentionally stupid' There's a lot of that going around whenever Ronnie is mentioned! I love it!

And as a former instructor with the LAUSD, I have to wonder if the percentage of administrators losing jobs equals that of the educators? I have a feeling...

6:52 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Gary Ruppert said...

The fact is, this is blood libel. Reagan would NEVER have raised taxes. You are making this up. We will not surrender to the liberal tax and spend machine.


Diane said ...

State Republicans either have short memories or they're being intentionally stupid.

I rest my case.

Thanks for the support folks, but Ruth and I are hearty and healthy broads. We can take the heat from those lithic souls such as Gary.

Steven, it's my understanding that all departments are being asked for 20-25% cuts. My info came from someone in the risk management department, one of the more successful departments in the administration.

I guess when you're talking $150 million, nobody's job is particularly sacrosanct.

3:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The truth is, schools are being starved, along with the rest of all programs begun for the purpose of improving the General Welfare.

In other words, our government is being transformed into socialism for the wealthy and NOTHING for the rest of us.

Schools in particular are being destroyed so that Amurrikkan childrens can be stupid, uninformed and even more easily malliable than their parents.

This will adequately prepare people for being RFID chipped and relegated to slavery.

Enjoy! Glad I'll be dead before it gets really shitty.

8:43 AM  

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