Concerned citizens are urged to contact their Assemblymember and Senator to support Gov. Brown's tax extension measure.
May 9, 2011 - Public school teachers, school employees and labor unions across California launched a weeklong “State of Emergency” campaign on Monday aimed at raising public awareness about the local effects of the state legislature’s failure to resolve a budget crisis that threatens deeper cuts in public school education.
The California Teachers Association, which consists of some 325,000 teachers, counselors, school librarians, nurses and support staff, launched the drive to pressure legislators to pass the state budget and temporarily extend certain sales, personal income and vehicle taxes that are scheduled to expire by June 30.
The CTA says that an extension would help prevent the authorization of billions of dollars in public expenditure cuts, including to K-12 education, which has already experienced $20 billion in cuts over the past three years and is threatend with larger class sizes and a shorter school year.
The CTA-led demonstration is scheduled to culminate in what organizers say will be the biggest event of the week-long protests—a rally in Pershing Squre in downtown Los Angeles. In Los Angeles on Monday, CTA members staged after-school protest demonstrations in several areas, including Simi Valley, and distributed leaflets in neighborhoods, urging people to support California Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to extend taxes or face devastating cuts to public services and education, Frank Wells, a CTA communications representative said.
The CTA is urging the public to use the association’s toll free number (1-888-268-4334) to call or email your local Assembly member and State senator to urge them to pass Brown’s tax extension measure. Brown has called for a special election in June that will enable California voters to decide whether or not to extend taxes to close the state's remaining $15.4 billion budget deficit, which would swell to $28 million during the next fiscal year.
Without a tax extension, the Los Angeles Unified School District would face $497.8 million in state cuts, which would be an average of $764 per student—or $22,920 per 30-student classroom, according to Parents For Great Education, a San Francisco Bay Area volunteer group of parents, teachers, administrators, unions and local businesses that raised $2.5 million in eight weeks last year to help restore 107 teachers’ jobs facing the ax because of budget cuts.
Some 7,300 teachers and classified staff at LAUSD had received layoff notices as of March 15, according to Parents For Great Education. They include eight teachers in Eagle Rock Elementary School and Magnet Center, which "feeds" students to Eagle Rock High School and suffered a nearly 65 percent cut in funds for instructional materials this year—down from $700,000 to $450,000, according to the school’s principal, José Posada.
Among the teachers at Eagle Rock Elementary who will find out if they still have a job or not by June 30 is Alicia Stanco, who teaches in the fifth-grade magnet program. Stanco was instrumental in helping her students win a “gold star” in the annual Science Olympiad held at Occidental College last February—a prestigious event in which some 100 public and private schools participated.
5th grade teacher Alicia Stanko with 4th grade magnet students Credit Vicki Gonzalez
This is the third year in a row that Stanco has got a pink slip, even though she is certified by both the California State Board of Education and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, whose standards of education are highly rigorous.
“Only 2 percent of teachers in LAUSD are nationally certified, which is above and beyond a regular credential,” said Eagle Rock Elementary Principal Posada. “It’s really odd that she [Stanco] has received a pink slip.” But layoffs are based on seniority and Posada said he is helpless to do anything about the matter other than to hope that the LAUSD can raise enough funds through donors to retain the teachers at his school and elsewhere.
“I find it very troubling that these wonderful and highly respected teachers and people have to go through this,” said Jason Fox, president of the Eagle Rock Elementary PTA. “I personally have been trying to fight by writing the legislature, the school board, and even President Obama in efforts to stop all these cuts and the pillaging of our children's education.”
Here is snapshot of the LAUSD as it compared in 2009-10 to some other school districts in the Los Angeles area, according to Ed-Data, the California Department of Education’s website:
LAUSD’s average annual expenditure per pupil is $10,654—much higher than what is spent on students per capita at:
Arcadia Unified ($7,788)
South Pasadena Unified ($7,803)
La Cañada Unified ($8,370)
San Marino Unified ($8,491)
Glendale Unified ($8,572)
Pasadena Unified ($10,435).
The state’s share of funding for LAUSD’s expenditure per pupil is $5,163, which, with the exception of Pasadena Unified, is higher than the rest of the comparable districts:
Arcadia Unified ($5,052)
South Pasadena Unified ($5,183)
La Cañada Unified ($5,046)
San Marino Unified ($5,008)
Glendale Unified ($5,035)
Pasadena Unified ($5,183).
LAUSD teachers who have a bachelors degree, plus two additional years of education, get an average annual salary of $63,553, which compares as follows with other districts:
Arcadia Unified ($76,213)
South Pasadena Unified ($71,968)
Glendale Unified ($65,170)
San Marino Unified ($64,881)
La Cañada Unified ($64,467)
Pasadena Unified (62,150)
Finally, LAUSD (as well as Glendale Unified and Pasadena Unified) can be distinguished from Arcadia Unified, La Cañada Unified, South Pasadena Unified and San Marino Unified, in one other respect: LAUSD, Glendale USD and Pasadena USD have failed to achieve the Average Yearly Progress (AYP), which is tied to annual growth in test scores and the state’s “No Child Left Behind” policy.