Contact: Mike Myslinski at 650-552-5324
California’s teachers are coping with a little-reported blow from the mortgage crisis as an estimated 312,000 children in the state are uprooted – a trend forcing many kids to change cities and schools at a critical time in their academic lives, according to a revealing story in the November issue of the CTA magazine, the California Educator.
The investigative story, titled “The New Poor: Teaching in Tough Economic Times,” is posted on the CTA website at www.cta.org. It cites a study by First Focus, a bipartisan advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., that says California’s nearly 312,000 children impacted by the mortgage crisis – out of 2 million nationwide – are more than in any other state. This edition also takes a hard look at how the state budget crisis has already hurt public schools, at a time when state lawmakers are considering billions of dollars in additional cuts.
The impacts on learning for students who lose homes and move frequently are widespread. Studies show transient third-grade students to be nearly twice as likely to perform below grade level in math as those who do not change schools. Chances of graduating from high school can be reduced by 50 percent or more, while frequent movers were 77 percent more likely to have more behavior problems or become violent.
Even as some teachers face losing their homes, educators are helping students cope. In Modesto, teachers explain to traumatized young students that it’s not their fault their friends have vanished, and console them in one bilingual class by reading a book titled Cambios (“Changes”) about families forced to move by hardships. “More families are sharing one house and more families are living in garages,” says first-grade Modesto teacher Hope Franco-Carreno. In Eastern Contra Costa County in the Bay Area, hard-hit by foreclosures, one high school teacher and her students operate a successful thrift shop where kids can get free used clothes. In Riverside County, members of the Corona-Norco Teachers Association hold group counseling sessions for students whose parents are struggling to make ends meet as the economy tanks.
In the issue’s story “Budget Cuts Inflict Pain On Classrooms,” examples of the devastating impact of $3.5 billion in cuts abound. One San Jose high school keeps a new library with 12,000 books padlocked because the district cut the librarian position. One Sacramento County high school closed its career center – it is now a storage room. For a statewide list of school cuts, go to www.cta.org/issues/current/Budget+Cuts+Impact.htm.