Today's The Day YOU Need To Stand Up For Schools
Two days ago one of my good friends sent me a direct message on Twitter about 4700 proposed layoffs in the Los Angeles Unified School District. I'd already heard about them, but what struck me was that this friend has no school age kids, doesn't work in education or hang out with teachers, doesn't talk about education all that frequently, and isn't even a resident of the city-proper. (He lives out in the Valley.) But, even he was concerned about the impact a layoff of that size would have.
This year's proposed pink slip distribution "would virtually eliminate school nurses and librarians, increase all class sizes, including a high of up to 44 students in middle school, and boost counselor loads to 1,000 students each."
Imagine being a seventh grade teacher with 44 kids in the room. After a day with that many students you'd probably want to prescribe yourself some anti-depressants, or find a medication that has a memory erasing side effect.
I know there are folks saying teachers should be able to get the job done no matter how many kids are in the room.. These same people probably believe teachers should have 100 students each, and unless every single one scores proficient or advanced on the almighty standardized tests, the teacher should get fired. Folks who think like that aren't usually classroom teachers - or very smart. Besides, do I want my sons in a room with that many other students? Uh, not unless it's a college lecture class. And, on top of those layoffs, nearly 1000 custodians and another 570 administrators are expected to get the boot.
It was bad but it wasn't 9,000 layoffs. Thank God for that.
I tried to reassure my friend that the district threatens these sorts of layoffs every single year - last year they threatened to layoff almost 9,000 people. However, what usually happens is by May, LAUSD scrapes together enough money to keep most folks. Last year, federal stimulus money helped save a lot of jobs, including ones at my son's school. Unfortunately, the final 2009-2010 budget laid off 2500 people and cut $132 million dollars. It was bad but it wasn't 9,000 layoffs. Thank God for that.
We sure need God (or someone super rich) to intervene this year. With a $640 million budget deficit, it's not looking good for LAUSD to be able to rescind the latest round of layoff notices. Schools that are just scraping by now are going to look like a bomb got dropped on them. Last week the ACLU filed suit against the district seeking to prohibit balancing budgets by laying off teachers. Turns out the layoffs are disproportionately impacting schools in low income areas with populations that are predominantly children of color.
$17 billion has been cut from education in California in the last two years. The University of California system raised tuition 32%. Community colleges are cutting classes, firing professors and eliminating summer sessions. The pot is boiling over and a whole lot of folks have decided it's time to tell the State of California and our school districts that enough is enough. No more balancing budgets on the backs of our children.
Hundreds of education protests are slated to go down today across California. They're being called "Stand Up For Schools" rallies. Before-school protests, student and faculty walkouts at colleges and universities, and a huge rally in downtown are going to happen here. If you want to participate, you can search the Stand Up For Schools event listing. Something is happening all over the state so if you don't live in LA, you can still let your voice be heard.
Even if you're not in California, please support us. We're responsible for 13% of this entire country's GDP. We're in educational purgatory right now, but if we go to hell out here, eventually you will too. Actually, I know you're local schools are in similar straits. Budget cuts are hitting nationwide.
Funny... I haven't heard anything about cuts to defense budgets, have you?
Use the #standupforschools hashtag on Twitter. Tell your friends on Facebook why you're standing up for public schools. Let people know that the biggest cuts to public education since the freakin' Great Depression in the most populous state in the nation can't continue.
photo courtesy of Flickr user Editor B