My son’s kindergarten teacher was fired today. This woman is a kindergarten teacher down to her very soul. In addition to helping my son’s class learn how to read and add and subtract, she’s helping mold them into critical thinkers who care about the world around them. In the winter, she helped the kids create an all inclusive holiday with its own original song. In the Spring, the kids asked to do a service project to raise money for the homeless so they made packs of granola, bracelets, and painted refrigerator magnets to sell at back-to-school night. Every month, the students have a publishing party to celebrate completing a book they’ve written. My son brought home his published works yesterday and he carried them around all afternoon and this morning. I’ve never seen him more proud of anything.
And it’s possible that next year this dedicated and wonderful teacher won’t be there. For the past three years she has received a pink slip and this year it was not rescinded.
This is one example in one school of what is happening in public education in our state. Because of state budget cuts, instructional days in LAUSD will be cut 5 days next year, the fourth time instructional time has been cut in 4 years. And 1,300 UTLA members will lose their jobs – that’s teachers, counselors, and school nurses. School funding in California is near the lowest in the country. West Virginia spends more money per pupil than California.
Cutting 5 more days to student learning seems disastrous. Yesterday, I spoke with John Rogers, an associate professor at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, about the impact of these cuts on student achievement.
Research shows that kids benefit from increasing the number of instructional days. Decreasing days impacts low income kids especially hard because they don’t have the resources to fill those educational gaps, Rogers said.
Kids have less time in the classroom, summer school is all but non-existent, and great teachers are losing their jobs. Don’t get me started on class size. Our children are suffering and this is unacceptable. What has to happen for California parents to stand up and say that we have had enough?
“It’s critical for parents to speak out and raise concerns about our state not investing the same way that other states are,” Rogers said.
There is no easy solution, but one thing parents can do in the short term is help get the Governor’s ballot initiative passed. It calls for an increase in income taxes for California residents earning $250,000 or above by 1 to 3 percent and also increases sales tax by 1/4 cent. If it passes, all the instructional days that LAUSD lost this year (and the last 4 years) will be reinstated. If the measure is not passed it would mean $5.5 billion in cuts to public education, according to the LA Times.
The California education advocacy group Educate Our State is calling for Californians to sign a petition asking the state to come up with a better solution than hoping the measure will pass . School districts are trying to balance their budgets without knowing if the money will come through.
And my son’s teacher is trying to put on a happy face for her students these last few days of school without knowing if she will have a job next year.
Yvonne Condes is the Editor and co-Founder of MomsLA, a Community of the Top Mom Bloggers in Los Angeles.