February 15, 2008

CTA President Reacts to Education Budget Cut

By Amanda Martinez
New America Media

LOS ANGELES — “The budget should not be balanced on the backs of students,” said David Sanchez, president of the California Teachers Association (CTA), in response to the governor’s proposed budget cut of 4.8 billion dollars over the next 18 months.

“We are already at the bottom of the bottom,” explained Sanchez as he pointed to a recent report by Education Week-ly, which gave California a D+ on school funding. The report card shows California’s ranking at 37 among the states, illustrating that Louisiana, even post-Katrina, gives more money per student for education.

Equally frightening is the possibility of a mid-year cut totaling 400 million dollars, which would be distressing to schools that have already planned their school years around expected funds.

Sanchez told ethnic media reporters at a news briefing hosted by New America Media that some school districts are already reacting to budget cuts, and have begun plans for teacher layoffs. These lay-offs could be in effect as early as March 15 and up to 110,000 teachers could lose their jobs.

“Every year teachers are being asked to do more with less,” said Sanchez who remembered spending up to $1,000 dollars out of pocket for his own classroom supplies while teaching as a kindergarten teacher. He went on to add these financial strains will likely result in less qualified teachers teaching in larger classrooms.

Sanchez believes the consequences of our current school finance condition combined with the high standards of No Child Left Behind (California has the highest standards in the country) will destroy extracurricular programs and resources for students, such as arts, music, and physical education.

“You have to test the hell out of kids [students] and with so many extracurricular classes gone the joy of teaching and learning is gone.”

Together these two political issues could bring down the California public school system but the CTA has plans to ensure quality education for students. Along with working on the reauthorization of NCLB, the CTA has decided that their top priority will be to preserve Proposition 98, which guarantees a minimum amount of funding that must be given to schools.

They are also confident that the Quality Education Investment Act — a law which provides 2.7 billion over seven years to 488 of California’s lowest performing schools — will help keep our most vulnerable schools secure for now.

Legislators have until the end of the month to respond to the governor’s budget cut, but it is likely that final revisions to the budget will not be made until late summer.

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