Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Calif. to Slash Ed Spending by $1,000 per Student

The Contra Costa Times ( http://bit.ly/e6KJhQ) is calling it the Calendar of Doom, California's countdown to complete budget collapse. The Legislature has reduced the state’s $26 billion deficit by $11.2 billion, leaving a $15 billion hole that still needs to be filled. Gov. Brown’s tax extension plan failed to garner enough Republican support to even make it onto the June ballot. Brown is now calling for an “all cuts” budget that would shorten the school year, jack up university tuition and gut child, senior, disabled and health services.

According to the Times, lawmakers are unlikely to approve such devastating cuts. However, legislative gridlock could trigger unprecedented education cuts as high as $1,000 per student. California already has one of the lowest per pupil spending levels in the nation, averaging around $7,000 per student. Most districts do not have the means to cope with cuts of this magnitude. A budget meltdown could result in another 19,000 teachers being laid off, according to the CTA’s recent “State of Emergency” declaration. California schools are already moving toward 35-40 students per class in some high schools and will get even more crowded with the impending cuts.

Meanwhile, Brown is holding true to his promise not to raise taxes without voter approval, a chicken shit piece of politicking that protects his own vast wealth and that of his class allies, while making it seem like his hands are tied. The only way to close the budget gap is to raise taxes. Simply increasing taxes to Reagan-era levels would probably be sufficient, while increasing taxes 1-5% on only those who earn more than $500,000 per year would give us a budget surplus. Ironically, even Reagan and Bush Senior raised taxes, despite promises not to.

The teachers unions pumped millions into Brown’s campaign hoping that he would serve their interests. He immediately paid them back by installing their lobbyist on the school board and offering disingenuous (and undeliverable) promises to hold education spending steady at last year’s depressing levels. But what has this done for teachers and their students? In order for Brown to truly be seen as a friend of education, he must not only find a way to restore the $21 billion slashed from education over the last 3 years, he must bring California’s per pupil spending up out of the third world levels in which it has stagnated for the past 25 years AND reduce the poverty affecting so many of California’s children. Anything short of this makes him just another hack politician, pandering to the ruling elite and throwing crumbs to the unions.

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