Tuesday, May 26, 2009

More Cuts To Education

You can't require 40-50% of the state budget be spent on education, and then not cut education when the state's in deep doo-doo. The question at that point isn't if education gets cut, but by how much.

So what are we looking at in California?

K-12 education makes up nearly 40 percent of the state budget, so it's virtually impossible for lawmakers to solve the $21 billion deficit without affecting schools. And that really means affecting the people who work in them, because salaries make up 80 to 90 percent of most district budgets.

Decisions on school staffing are made locally, the product of negotiations between each of the state's roughly 1,000 school districts and their local teachers unions...

Right now state law requires a school year of at least 180 days. Schwarzenegger's proposal calls for temporarily changing the law to allow districts to cut the school year to 173 days for the next three years. Each district and its union would decide whether to shorten the year.

"It's just to give them an option, it's not that we want to reduce instructional time," said Kathryn Gaither, the governor's undersecretary of education.

"We're just trying to figure out ways to help them manage this big chunk that's coming out of their budget."

Clearly, something must be done. Instead of dictating at the state level, the government is letting individual districts decide how to absorb the cuts.

But wait! Someone isn't happy.

The president of the California Teachers Association – the umbrella group over local teachers unions – said he won't tell locals whether to opt for a shorter year or more layoffs. David Sanchez said he opposes both.

"When you shorten the school year, you're making it less time for teaching and less time for students to learn," he said.

"I am against shortening the school year because the final impact is going to be on our students … not to mention our members losing out on salary and benefits. But I'm also against the other option of reductions of teachers across the state. No one should be out of a job at this time."

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is indicative of the problem that got us to this point in the first place. How does SeƱor Sanchez propose to solve this budget crisis? How would any liberal propose doing so? Raise taxes (including on those teachers he claims to want to protect).

Broken record.


maxutils said...

Sanchez's argument makes me embarrassed to be a teacher, but I agree with him as to the outcome. Public education is one of the few things that the state does that it should be doing, and it is arguably the most important one, since better education means both fewer people in prison and more responsible taxpayers --a resultant increase in revenue and decrease in expenditure.

So, the proper way to fund it is to determine how much education is optimal (# of days, student/teacher ratio, quality level of teacher vs. salary) and then figure out and collect enough revenue to cover that amount. It should NOT be determined by %0% of whatever we collect, 'cuz sometimes it's not enough, and sometimes it's too much and gets spent on things that we don't need.

So, what I want to hear from the Governor BEFORE we start negotiating, is why 173 days is the proper number for a school year now, or why class sizes should be increased, educationally speaking. If there's a sound reason for it, then I'm all for it. If not, suck it up, borrow the money to pay for it, and then, next time we have an economic boom, pay off the debt INSTEAD of either a) giving the extra to education, though they don't need it or b) finding somewhere else to spend it.

And yes, I recognize that Prop 98 makes that impossible. But, since the Governor overrides it every time we're short anyway, what difference does it make? Prop 98 was atrocious legislation, and the sooner it goes, the better.

Anonymous said...

I think you may loose your retirement.

Darren said...

I think you have a screw loose.

Anonymous said...

Your government is broke and you think your retirement is secure?

Darren said...

Relatively speaking, yes. My retirement, while guaranteed by the state's general fund, does not come out of the state's general fund.

Now, are you making your points seriously, or are you one of my trolls who's just trying to be manipulative? How you answer will dictate my response to you on this topic from here on out.

Anonymous said...

When most companies get into financial hardship, they cut benefits, like retirement.

If you think your retirement is solvent, that’s fine. Me? I’m buying gold.

Darren said...

A little gold never hurt anyone.

If you're interested in slightly more information about the California State Teachers Retirement System, type those words or simply "STRS" into the search engine at the top of my blog.

Anonymous said...

The other anonymous needs to go back to school to learn the difference between 'lose' and 'loose'.

Loose fiscal policies may cause him to lose his retirement.

Anonymous said...

I have no interest in a government sponsored retirement. That is socialism.

I am going to earn my retirement, thank you very much.

Darren said...


Had me fooled there for a moment. I thought you might be a normal person.

mmazenko said...

Budget cuts?

Cut all sports, activities, stipends, and janitorial jobs. Turn off the computers, cut the school week to four days, lop off senior year, and eliminate buses.

That should help.

maxutils said...

I'm actually glad that anonymous took that stand, not that this post had anything to do with retirement in the first place. Because, if anonymous believes that, he should make sure he doesn't get any sort of job that requires a near 16% contribution (employee/employer) to social security on the first 100 grand, which then 'earns' him a payment completely unlinked to his contributions from retirement until death. THAT would be socialism. I'll take my STRS, where I make my contributions from my paycheck to my investment fund, then retire at a percentage of my pay dependent on years worked. Idiot.

Then again, I revisited this post, and saw Sanchez's final line, "No one should be out of a job at this time," and I have to think again about how we are perceived based upon whom we (save it Darren, I know it's not you) elect to represent us.represent us.

W.R. Chandler said...

Even though I would take a pay cut, I have few problems with shortening the school year. Since test scores show that our students get stupider the longer they stay in our public schools, perhaps shortening the school year is the key to raising test scores? Huh? Huh?