Dina Martin at 650-552-5491 or Rebecca Zoglman at 916-296-5271
SACRAMENTO – Several hundred educators from CTA chapters statewide are taking to the halls of the Capitol today to talk with their legislators about what years of budget cuts have done to their schools and communities and to ask for an on-time budget so Californians can move on toward a critical election in November.
“As educators, we know firsthand how budget cuts have hurt our students and their families,” said Dean E. Vogel, president of the 325,000-member California Teachers Association.
California has lost over 40,000 educators in the past four years and another 14,000 face being laid off next year. Tuition has increased more than 300 percent at state colleges and universities – pricing many students out of getting a higher education degree. Community College courses have been slashed and classrooms are overcrowded.
“California can and must do better when it comes to educating and caring for its students. That’s why we are urging our legislators to pass an on-time budget so we can all move ahead and focus on passing the much-needed Governor’s Tax Initiative in November,” Vogel said.
The funding initiative is expected to generate about $9 billion a year through a temporary tax increase on wealthy Californians and a temporary ¼ cent sales tax. Without the new revenues from the initiative, schools and community colleges will be cut by an additional $5 billion.
Chapter presidents representing large and small districts will report drastic budget cuts to their legislators during CTA’s annual Lobby Day.
“As a special education teacher, I am seeing the dramatic impact of budget cuts on our at-risk students,” said Yolanda Benito, president of the Imperial County Office of Education Teachers Association. “Two years ago we had 15 teachers at our site, last year we were down to nine, and this year we will have seven, yet we have the same number of students. I want to make sure our students have an adequate number of teachers, counselors and support services, and they are not getting it.”
In the Fremont Unified School District, budget cuts over the last three years have increased class size in grades K-12 from 20:1 to 28:1 and have completely eliminated 20:1 in 9th grade math and English.
“Our counseling staff has gone from 36 to 24, which means students will not be able to receive the guidance to plan their educational needs. We have lost student instruction days, parent conferences and Open House. We are losing teachers to other professions because they just can't take it anymore,” said Brannin Dorsey, president of the Fremont Unified District Teachers Association.
“We need people to come together and to invest in our future, our children's future, and California's future. Right now we are on a collision course with ignorance and poverty,” she said.
The loss of thousands of classified staff in schools has also had an impact on students.
“Our Education Support Professionals are doing more with less. Repairs can't be made as quickly as we'd like. Rooms aren't cleaned as often as they used to be. Transportation is being privatized. Safety issues arise constantly due to cuts. This has become the norm for our school, our students and members,” said Doreen McGuire-Grigg, president of the Lakeport Classified Education Association. Observing that today, May 22, is CTA ESP Day, McGuire-Grigg noted, “Through all of this, our ESP's continue to work hard to make their schools the best.”
Budget cuts in the Sacramento City Unified School District have resulted in lay-off notices to 345 teachers this year alone.
“The loss of teachers has meant we’ve got larger class sizes, no sports, no music, no drama, no journalism, no yearbook,” said Scott Smith, president of the Sacramento City Teachers Association. “These cuts have been devastating.”
Without new revenues, schools face billions more in proposed trigger cuts.
“Our schools and students will suffer from a cut that will equal closing schools for three weeks,” Vogel said. “This makes it all the more crucial that voters pass the governor’s tax measure in November to put California back on the road to recovery.”
The 325,000-member CTA is affiliated with the 3.2 million-member National Education Association.