By Ted Godshalk
Recently our family visited the Sacramento area. Our fourth grader is studying California history and he benefited from the seeing Sutter’s Mill, the place along the American River where gold was first found, the Chaw-se Indian village, and other important sites. Driving into the city of Sacramento, the white dome of the Capitol was pointed out as the seat of government in our state. A child’s education, I believe, is always enhanced by many varied activities outside the classroom.
Back at Kimball School, fourth graders from National City investigate the indigenous people, the Missions, the Mexican period, the Californios, and independence and statehood. Recently, government studies was brought to a new and exhilarating level when two of the highest ranking elected state officials came to Old Town and held an important press conference.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell and State Treasurer Phil Angelides spoke before students, parents, educators, and administrators to highlight the broken promises and the misguided policies of Governor Schwarzenegger. From Fresno to San Jose to Los Angeles to National City, these two men have carried on a frank discussion with the people of this state on the method the Governor is proposing to meet the annual budget. Angelides and O’Connell told the audience that while California has adopted world class standards for educating our children, the per capita funding is ranked at 42nd out of 50 states. While the voters approved Proposition 48 in order to adequately pay for our children’s education, and the Governor promised to honor the voter’s wishes, he now proposes to slash this year’s increase by $2.3 billion and pass on $500 million in retirement costs to the school districts at a time when the state expects $5 billion in new revenues. These cuts represent $50,000 for a school the size of Kimball.
It’s a “back-door, back-room shell game” according to Treasurer Angelides. Schwarzenegger’s budget calls for $6 billion in new borrowing and allows for corporate loopholes at a time when children are asked to carry the burden.
At the press conference, young Gabi of the fifth grade asked Superintendent O’Connell why the Governor was not keeping his promise. She and other students expressed their fear that they would not have textbooks next year. Kimball School, for example, stands to lose $50,000 and this will result in cuts that would effect all students, from those in need of one-on-one help from an Impact teacher to help them improve their reading skills to those in art and music enrichment programs. O’Connell told Gabi that “it’s called integrity,” and Angelides added that the community needs to “roar like a lion” in reference to the school mascot.
If your child’s teacher or school principal came to you and said the promise to give your child or grandchild the best education possible would not be kept next year, and that your child or grandchild would spend the fifth grade struggling to read below grade level because the teachers have been let go, you would not stand for it. Angelides and O’Connell did National City a great service by coming to the distinguished school of Kimball and publicizing the Governor’s plans to reduce education funding. You can play a role in defeating this plan by writing to: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, State Capitol Building Sacramento, CA 95814, or by sending an e-mail through: http://www.govmail.ca.gov, and by signing the petitions at www.StandingUpforCalifornia.com. The history of California will record those who have integrity and those who do not. Tell the Governor what kind of leadership we expect.
Ted Godshalk can be reached at email@example.com