Yes, education is important. But when education takes up 50% of the state budget, how can you not consider cuts to education to help make up our severe budget shortfall? If cuts were made across the board, education would be cut by half the amount of our deficit--far more than the couple billion dollars the governor is proposing.
From the point of view of an accountant, education's getting off easy.
This article from the major Sacramento newspaper gives some details:
California schools could eliminate a week of instruction and increase class sizes next year under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's new plan for solving the state's budget crisis.
Vowing to give schools maximum flexibility to cut costs, the proposal unveiled Wednesday also would allow districts to eliminate one of two science courses required for high school graduation.
Schwarzenegger's plan would provide no teacher salary increases, eliminate a program providing subsidies to overhaul low-performing schools, and suspend participation in a program encouraging teachers to obtain national certification.
Several commenters on that article have suggested some classes that could be cut. I'd like to expand on that.
First off, while I support athletics, they are not the primary purpose of our K-12 schools. If we have to prioritize, athletics needs to go. "But they make so much money for the school!" some will say. Not at my school. Our student government kicks in about $80,000/year just to keep our athletic programs afloat. The rest of the money that the school and the district spend on those programs--spend it elsewhere. If there are programs that do, in fact, make money, keep them. Sorry, golf team.
Another place to cut is AVID. My school has at least one AVID class per grade. Cut them out. It's a valuable program, but if I had to prioritize, I'd put AVID well below our content-specific courses--including electives.
When I was in school, student council was an extra-curricular activity. Meetings took place after school. At the school at which I teach currently, student government is a class that elected officers take. That's 180 hours of student government every year! And students can take it every year, if they get elected! Cut it. Make it extra-curricular. It should be anyway.
With just these few suggestions I've cut a full 5-period teacher and lots of coaches, officials, transportation, etc., and haven't really hurt academics.
And that's just at my school. Imagine what I could cut at the district office, which has grown ever larger while our student population has dropped about 20%!