Thursday, January 21, 2010

Associated Press: UCLA report details recession's impact on schools

An Associated Press story reports:
Widespread teacher layoffs, larger class sizes and increased economic hardship for children are among the impacts California's budget crisis and the recession have had on public schools and students, according to a report released Thursday.

Researchers at UCLA's Institute for Democracy, Education and Access interviewed 87 elementary, middle and high principals across California to gauge the impact of the recession and budget cuts on student welfare and school learning environments.

Before the recession began, California K-12 public schools, which were among the nation's best in the 1960s, already ranked near the bottom nationally in many measures of academic achievement and school quality.


  1. Do you think it is time to start a campaign...

    on the state level how much do we spend per pupil (8.5k in 2005) vs. how much do we spend on prison inmates(47K) ...invest in our future!

    We need to get out there and be heard!!!!

    need some way to make more informed cuts in state and city budgets so schools can get more support.

    more info

  2. The least we should do is organize some sort of protest...we can't just sit back and watch it happen

  3. Is everyone freaking out about this like me? We are very hopeful to have our child in public k this fall, but I am really feeling ill right about now. Can anyone shed light on the realities of what is to come this fall? And, yes, I am very ready to protest.

  4. Very scary. Volunteering every week in my daughters K class (at a "trophy school"), it is all too clear that 22 kids and one teacher is more than enough. How it is in a school with even more kids with challenging backgrounds I can only imagine. The span of ages and abilities is HUGE, and I can suddenly see how some kids can graduate without reading. It is simply not possible for one teacher to give some of them the constant attention they would need to begin to catch up. Are they really going to up the number to 30!!??

  5. 11:20, the district's attitude towards announcing class size increases and teacher layoffs is typically to inflate the initial proposals so they have some room for play, but I think it's safe to assume that if they are projecting 30, they are very ready to raise classes to maybe 26 or 28 (a guess). As you note, even a 22-to-1 ratio doesn't leave much time for individual student attention, and even moderate increases will be felt hard.

    Realize also that proposals like freezing teacher pay, requiring furlough days, and these yearly layoff threats make teaching less and less attractive as a career option. We claim to want the "best" teachers for our kids, but what sane person wants to put themselves at such high risk for job instability, no matter how dedicated they are to education? I want my kids to have a strong, professional teacher, not someone who had few other employment options and possibly an over-developed martyr complex.

    School districts listen to parents, it is crucial that parents step up and let Garcia and the Board know that taking more away from our schools in unacceptable, and we need to do it quickly. Garcia wants to have the cuts determined by the end of February, that's coming up very quickly. Please don't wait for the already planned March 4 demonstrations to make yourselves heard, by then it will be too late.

    More than ever, teachers and parents need to be partners in demanding that our children's needs be met with sane and fair budget solutions. Progressive taxation is the only real way out of this that makes any sense to me.

  6. If you have been reading Rachel Norton's blog and the local papers, you will have noticed that raising classes even to 40, as well as cutting many programs, will not bridge the budget gap.

    The bottom line is that we cannot sustain a rapidly growing population with so many low income/low taxpayers and at the same time, outsource high paying jobs to other states and countries.

    Massachusetts seems to have figured that out, but we in San Francisco and California have not.

  7. sorry:

    low taxpayers should read
    low paying taxpayers

  8. It's true, everyone loves to bash Prop 13, and yet not many have the courage to call attention to the fact that millions and millions of illegal immigrants and their children have put a HUGE burden on our schools in CA.

    We ask how the funding has changed since 1978. Do we ask how the population has changed?

  9. So I think that Massachusetts' US Senate race is of limited interest here (although I must add - Massachusetts already has a state insurance program, so their voters' intentions may not be quite what you believe them to be).

    It is true, though, that we need to decide if public schooling - free, equitable education for all - is something we support and for which we are willing to pay. If not, then we can let the system fail. Otherwise, some third rails and sacred cows will need to become less electrifying or venerated.

    Since the outcomes for Americans who are poorly-educated typically stress the taxpayer further through incarceration and social services (not to mention less taxable income) and cost much more than K-12 education, I would argue that robust education funding is a conservative value, not just a progressive one.

  10. "Americans who are poorly-educated typically stress the taxpayer further through incarceration and social services (not to mention less taxable income) and cost much more than K-12 education, I would argue that robust education funding is a conservative value, not just a progressive one."

    True. Well, it is a conservative value of the GOP, as in Teddy Roosevelt, or something like that.
    Perhaps not the GOP of the last thirty years.

    You might be interested to know that this is the view that Canada holds. But Canada also has a very different immigration policy than the US.

    In Canada, if you are caught driving without a license or insurance, you are immediately arrested. I know. I once bought a car and taped the license plates to the back window while I drove the car home. I was pulled over and barely managed to avoid being arrested, even though the car was in fact licensed and insured. (I'm a Canadian and American citizen.)

    There is no such term as "undocumented." You can't get a driver's license there unless you have a legitimate visa, are a resident or a citizen.

    The Canadian government also took the special measure of blocking all travel visas from Mexico in July of 2009. Immigration authorities felt that requests for political assylum from Mexico turned out to not be legitimate much more frequently than other countries.

    Here is the official Canadian statement:

    "Refugee claims from Mexico have almost tripled since 2005, making it the number one source country for claims. In 2008, more than 9,400 claims filed in Canada came from Mexican nationals, representing 25 per cent of all claims received. Of the Mexican claims reviewed and finalized in 2008 by the Immigration and Refugee Board, an independent administrative tribunal, only 11 per cent were accepted.

    “In addition to creating significant delays and spiraling new costs in our refugee program, the sheer volume of these claims is undermining our ability to help people fleeing real persecution,” said Minister Kenney. “All too often, people who really need Canada’s protection find themselves in a long line, waiting for months and sometimes years to have their claims heard. This is unacceptable."

  11. Go Canada! They must think we're really dumb. I'm serious. I think their policies make a lot of sense.

  12. You're missing the point that it's the state that's underfunding our school district, so protesting to Garcia and the SFUSD board of ed is futile. They're just as eager to protest cuts as we parents are.

  13. Protesting to Garcia and the BoE is smart, because while the state must take the blame for the funding, SFUSD decides what to fund and what to cut.

    There are choices to be made, and stakeholders outside of 555 Franklin should make their opinions very clear.

  14. "Keep the cuts away from the classroom" is an important message.

    And don't forget to demand that the $3.2 million National Urban Alliance professional development contract be canceled, and resolve never again to vote for the board members who voted for it! That's Fewer, Kim, Maufas and Yee.

  15. parents and educators need to mobilize against K-14 cuts (13,14 = community colleges)

    from the community college union website -

    The Governor's proposed 2010-11 budget for California proposes massive cuts in all levels of State funding that would further dismantle public education and social services. Contrary to the promise he made in his State of the State message to "protect the state's educational system" in the 2010/11 state budget, the cold, hard numbers behind his proposal would slash all of the state's public education systems, including the community colleges.

    Here are some "lowlights" of Governor Schwarzenegger's proposal for education:

    Cuts $2.4 billion from Prop 98 funding for K-14: $892 million in 2009/10 and $1.54 billion in 2010/11. This would be accomplished by changing the sales tax on gasoline to an excise tax, which would remove it from General Fund revenues—and remove it permanently away from the Prop 98 guarantee.
    Democratic state legislators such as Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg are calling for "full funding for education" for the coming fiscal year. Our role in the process must be to struggle and fight to make Senator Steinberg's words a reality by the time the budget is finally adopted sometime this summer—or later.

    Spring 2010 Offensive: Mark these Dates

    March 4 - Local actions at Bay Area colleges against tuition hikes and cuts to education. There will be actions at CCSF during the day and a mass rally in support of K-14, high education, and public services at Civic Center from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. that evening.

    March 22 - major show of force in Sacramento

    Late April - May 2010 - State budget talks will be at a critical juncture, and there is the possibility of another major mobilization in Sacramento involving all levels of education and other public employees.