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Three Op-Eds on Fixing SDUSD

May 17, 2011

First up: Richard Barrera whose oped is titled: We Must Reinvest in the CA Dream.

“A generation ago, California led the nation in investing in public education, from preschool through K-12, and continuing through our community colleges, our California State Universityand our University of California systems. Many of us owe the quality of our lives to this investment by an earlier generation of Californians, and we take great pride in knowing that a world connected by the Internet, with a vision of a clean, green and just future, is possible because of this investment.

But over the last three years, state leaders have turned their backs on our parents’ investment by devastating public education with $18 billion in cuts and the potential for billions more next year. If these cuts from Sacramento continue, it will mean disaster for our local schools – overcrowded classrooms, dirty and unsafe campuses, and a dumbed-down curriculum that neglects science, music and the arts.”

Next up: Scott Barnett whose oped is titled: Pass Up Raises, Slash Costs, Save Teacher Jobs.

“This year, San Diego Unified School District will spend $1.13 billion to educate 115,000 students, operate 200 educational facilities and pay 15,000 teachers and employees. These hardworking employees do an amazing job of educating our kids. Increased student academic performance, while still far short of where our kids should be, demonstrates that hard work is paying off.

Next year, state education cuts will require the district to reduce expenditures by $115 million. Additional cuts may be needed as the state grapples with a projected $15 billion deficit.

As a parent of two daughters who attend SDUSD schools, I understand firsthand how state budget cuts are having devastating impacts on our children’s education.

In order to balance the proposed budget, the school board recently issued layoff notices to more than 2,000 certificated and classified employees, 900 of them teachers. This action will result in exploding class sizes, a dangerously low level of nurses and counselors, devastation of the arts, reduction of school police and security, and the elimination of most librarians.”

Last up: Stephen Rosen whose oped is titled: Employees Should Sacrifice to be Fair to Kids.

“There seems to be no public disagreement that the San Diego Unified School District is operating in crisis mode, trying to balance a $1.13 billion operating budget with continuing annual decreases in revenue. With a conservative $115 million annual deficit projected for the 2011-12 school year (and another large amount projected for 2012-13), what San Diego Unified needs is a way out of this mess.

The back story: The school district has been hoping that our state legislators will do what they haven’t been able to do in years and come to a consensus on better education funding. District officials are also downplaying the impact of the contracts they negotiated with district unions. While we should hold the state accountable for defaulting on providing the funding specified by Proposition 98 and demand that our Legislature prioritize education spending, we have run out of time.

The problem: Hope is not a strategy. Current labor-negotiated contracts along with annual increases in health and operating costs are devouring the district’s operating budget. Taxpayers struggling with a limping economy have shown they are not inclined to agree to any state and local tax increases. Despite rigorous lobbying efforts for both state and local tax increases and reinstatement of Proposition 98 funds, neither have happened.”

Obviously, I have strong opinions about all of these proposals and Barrera’s oped is by far the most sensible to me.  We have one of the lowest funding per pupil ratios of any state in the country, we are 47th by this chart.  This is just sad, California is a great state, beautiful, interesting and the weather is awesome.  Prop 13 has literally devastated public education in this state, maybe we should think about repealing that.

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