Contact: Robin Swanson (916) 204-6890
As cuts to California’s students continue to be rolled out a dizzying pace, some may have trouble keeping up with the staggering total of cuts to education, which has now reached an unimaginable $17.4 billion.
Governor Schwarzenegger’s May Revision proposal includes an additional $1.6 billion in cuts for 2008-09 and $4.2 billion in cuts for 2009-10, for a total of $5.8 billion in additional cuts. These devastating cuts come on top of the $11.6 billion in cuts already enacted.
That means that California’s students, who already live in a state that ranks 47th in the nation in per-pupil spending, will be subjected to cuts totaling nearly $3,000 per student, wiping out programs that help student achievement and robbing an entire generation of the quality education they deserve. (Not to mention moving California toward the dubious ranking of dead- last in the nation in per-pupil funding.)
The devastation of these cuts is not only lost jobs right now, but deep, lasting damage to the ability of our children and the state to compete and succeed in the future. Although education only represents 40 percent of the state budget, our schools have been subjected to 60 percent of the cuts. As a result of the unprecedented cuts to our schools, class size reduction programs have been virtually eliminated, while arts, music, sports, advanced placement, special needs and other essential programs are on the chopping block.
Progress in student achievement made in recent years, including improved Academic Performance Index (API) scores, will be impossible to maintain in the midst of devastating program cuts. In 2008, California schools continued the steady academic progress that has been achieved since the inception of the state’s accountability system 10 years ago. The percentage of schools at or above the API target of 800 was up from 2007 at all school levels – up 3.3 percentage points for elementary schools, up 5.7 percentage points for middle schools, and up 2.8 percentage points for high schools. The historic cuts being enacted by the Governor and the Legislature will undoubtedly reverse these positive trends.
The Education Coalition remains committed to finding long-term solutions to the chronic underfunding of our public schools, and to addressing the needs of all students. Increased revenues must be part of the solution, including majority-vote fee increases and local revenue raising authority. In addition to looking at program reductions, the Legislature needs to review and reduce tax expenditures including the new tax breaks that were approved just this past year.
We strive to create a public school system where students can thrive in small class sizes with up-to-date textbooks and state-of-the-art technology, in schools with updated facilities. We want them to work with educators who have access to ongoing training and mentoring to ensure that they are able to do the best job possible of motivating our students to learn. We hope to create a prevailing and contagious outlook that all students deserve a chance to succeed, with the financial resources to make it happen.
The Education Coalition represents more than 2.5 million teachers, parents, administrators, school board members, school employees and other education advocates in California. For more information, please visit our website at: www.protectourstudents.org.