Solution to cali ed crisis

The $1.4 billion of proposed cuts to California?s higher education have already prompted tuition increases in the UC, CSU, and community college systems, alongside mass layoffs and program cuts.
Brown?s budget proposal freezes funding levels for kindergarten through high school (K-12). The unions and media have widely reported this as ?sparing? K-12 education, but the actual situation in schools shows that nothing has been ?spared.? Instead of desperately needed increases, Brown?s proposal will conditionally keep funding at current levels for the 2011-2012 school year. Due to increased attendance, a funding freeze results in lower amounts of spending per pupil.

California is already ranked 47th in the nation in per pupil spending. If a set of regressive taxes are not approved by the voters, then billions will be cut from the already reeling education system. Perhaps most importantly, California?s schools will continue to decline even if ?spared,? as prior cuts continue to have their effect.

Over the past three years $18 billion has been cut from California?s K-12 system. This has resulted in thousands of layoffs, increased class sizes, shortened school years, and either reduced or eliminated music and art programs.
According to State Superintendent Torlakson, 58 percent of schools have cut educational materials, 48 percent have cut nursing and counseling staff, 35 percent have increased class sizes, and nearly half have reduced employee pay. Even with all these reductions, 174 out of 1,077 school districts will be insolvent within three years at the current level of funding.

Unsurprisingly, these cuts have affected the districts covering low-income families the hardest. As state funding has dried up, schools have had to rely on local taxes or fundraising to maintain their programs and class sizes. As reported in the San Jose Mercury News, parents in the Cupertino Union School District managed to raise $2.5 million to keep student-teacher ratios at 20-1 for their youngest students. In districts where the community has not cobbled together enough to pick up the state?s slack, the ratio is routinely over 30-1.
Beyond suffering more cuts, schools serving low-income communities have a higher proportion of inexperienced teachers, according to statistics gathered by the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning (CFTL). Due to collective bargaining agreements with the teachers? unions, the last teachers hired are the first to be fired. During the current crisis, this has meant that in addition to suffering more cuts, poorer schools have had higher turnover rates as their low-seniority teachers are fired in greater numbers.

This concentration of layoffs in poor communities reached an extreme pitch last year when over half the teachers at three middle schools in the Los Angeles area were laid off, sparking a case brought against the Los Angeles Unified School District by the American Civil Liberties Union. In one school, Liechty, a full 72 percent of the teachers received layoff notices.