Saturday, March 01, 2008

California Education Budget Update by Senator Perata

by Don Perata
President pro Tem
California State Senate - from California Progress Report


Feb, 28, 2008 - Once again Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is talking about improving education without acknowledging that his budget cuts would devastate California’s classrooms and leave the state nearly last in the nation in educational support.

He balances his budget on the back of education taking $4 billion from a system that is already ranked 47th in the country in per-pupil spending.

Cutting $4 billion would mean:

• Laying off 57,000 teachers, or 20 percent of the state’s teaching workforce. Or,
• Eliminating four weeks of the school year. Or,

• Increasing class sizes by 23 percent, making them about one-quarter bigger.

Those are some of the awful choices we face, under the Governor’s budget plan.

But, rather than searching for solutions to his short-sighted, cuts-only approach, the Governor is holding press conferences on what federal funding might do for the state’s worst-performing schools.

It’s abominable that 97 California school districts failed to meet test score requirements set by the federal No Child Left Behind law. Unfortunately, the Governor’s budget cuts could very well send more school districts into the same territory.

The Governor touts education excellence on one hand while he undercuts it with the other.

It’s outrageous, and Californians shouldn’t stand for it.

Senate Democrats are committed to putting classrooms first. Schools must succeed if California wants a competent workforce and a strong economy. California cannot remain a land of opportunity and prosperity without a strong public school system.

We have tough decisions to make, as we contemplate how to cover an $8 billion deficit in next year’s budget. But whatever we do, let’s not sacrifice our future.

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