Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Ana Kasparian - LA Politics in Education Examiner

March 11, 10:50 AM · Employee layoffs are infecting the Los Angeles Unified School District in the same rapidness the Bubonic plague claimed lives in the 1330s. Maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but the public school system in LA is in terrible shape. Naturally, the first to feel the effects of a faltering economy is public education, where budget cuts have lead to thousands of layoff notices in LA alone.

The LA Board of Education specifically issued 9,000 letters on Tuesday, letting 2,000 permanent elementary school teachers know that their jobs are in serious danger. Close to 3,500 probationary teachers will most likely loose their jobs as well. The rest of the notices have been sent to non-teaching school personnel, such as counselors and administrators.

But before this incredible number of layoffs actually takes place, the LA Board of Education must review and approve the terminations in June. In other words, 9,000 LAUSD employees have to sit and wait till June to find out whether or not they’re employed.

According to The Los Angeles Times, the bad news comes in response to an increasing state and national fiscal crisis. The LA School District is facing a $700-million deficit over the next 18 months. The state’s money troubles and teacher cuts will unquestionably compromise the education of students in the second largest school district in the country. There will be larger class sizes, fewer classes offered, and cuts in art and music programs.

President Barack Obama addressed the country’s quality of public education today while talking to the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Obama declares that "Despite resources that are unmatched anywhere in the world, we've let our grades slip, our schools crumble, our teacher quality fall short, and other nations outpace us. What's at stake is nothing less than the American dream."

Obama’s plan for education reform includes merit pay for effective and well qualified teachers, as well as eliminating restrictions on non-union independent schools. But these plans may not be right for the LAUSD since charter schools have already drained money from traditional public education. In fact, the LA School District has the largest number of charter schools in the nation because the state of California does not have a charter cap. This might serve as an example to Obama, who seems to endorse more charter schools in the country.

When it comes to merit pay, union members argue that it would not be effective since it would put teachers against one anothers.

The real problem with public education was not address by Obama. Although he will provide $31 billion toward California's education system in the new stimulus plan, public school systems are still hit hardest with teacher layoffs, and it’s impossible to expect the quality of education to flourish. Increasing class sizes and eliminating art and music programs also calls for disaster.

While America’s failing car companies and banks received millions in government bailouts this year, it boggles my mind as to why the federal sector isn’t willing to give the schools systems a bailout as well. Jobs are being lost, and as Obama mentioned, the American dream is being compromised.

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