By Sherry Posnick-Goodwin
Val Verde Teachers Association member Steve Brockman with student Micah Hebert, who worries that freshman football will soon disappear.
The state budget's $11.5 billion cut to schools and colleges is the largest single budget cut ever made to public education in California. More than 27,000 educators in the state have received pink slips so far this year.
Analysts may be able to put a dollar figure on cuts to education, but it's more difficult to figure out the cost to students and society when education is not fully funded. The things we cannot pay for now may be things that will cost us down the line.
The first disbursement of federal stimulus money for education was sent to states last month. But even federal funds will not be enough — and won't arrive in time — to stave off widespread teacher and education support professional layoffs and cuts to programs. And the next round of cuts is coming on top of a year when cuts ran deep.
There are more than 9 million reasons to vote yes on Propositions 1A-1F — California's students. If these propositions fail, it will mean another $23 billion budget hole. And that means more layoffs and more cuts to schools.
The following stories look at the impact of both past and future budget cuts — describing firsthand how they are affecting students in public schools. The stories tell what it's like to be in an overcrowded classroom; to go without basic school supplies; to need counselors who aren't there; and to lose beneficial programs like music, art and sports.
"California public schools and community colleges have been cut by more than $11 billion over the past two years," says CTA President David A. Sanchez. "With approximately 27,000 teachers receiving layoff notices in March, this means more overcrowded classrooms and further elimination of critical programs. We must work together to save our schools. We can't let things get worse."
The students profiled in the following stories come from urban, rural and suburban areas and represent a wide variety of ages, grade levels and ethnic backgrounds. Many of them asked the same questions while being interviewed: "Doesn't the government want us to get a good education?" "Why are they cutting things like art, sports and music that make students want to stay in school and graduate?"
There were no easy answers to their questions. But students were told that the results of the special election should provide some answers, and that CTA indeed cares about them and is pleased to share their stories and viewpoints.