50% = Whole lotta nothing

FRIDAY 5-09-08…There are some things in the news that simply will not compute in my mind. Perhaps there are those of you out there that can offer little tidbits that can straighten me out. For example, the budget for the state of California mandates nearly half of the state’s budget for education K through 12.

In spite of this mammoth amount, we are told by the California Teacher’s Association that California ranks 46th on the list of per pupil spending. In order to get us closer to the top of the list, we would have to earmark more than half of the 102 billion dollar state budget for education.

Governor Schwarzenegger has called for a ten percent reduction across the board in state spending, and as a result, schools here in the north state are in the process sending out layoff notices, school closures, program and class size cuts. Notice, though, where the cuts are aimed. Janitors, librarians, classroom teachers, part timers, classified and unclassified employees. Programs targeted for cuts include sports, music, art. Notice the absence of superintendents, principals, vice principals and other administrative types?

It was a letter to the editor in the Sacramento BEE from a teacher which fired up my thought-processes. The letter reads in part “As a math teacher in the San Juan Unified School District, let me be the first to congratulate our superintendent on his big opportunity and pay increase.

“The teachers of the district earlier this year were offered 3 percent cost of living increase, which as been pulled off the table. The San Juan Board President continues to insult teachers as the superintendent leaves, by commending him for raising test scores. Funny – all those times I gave up my lunch to tutor kids, and spent hours in the evenings planning lessons, I thought that I was the one who was helping kids raise their test scores. I guess I was mistaken.”

It seems to me, as a casual observer, that a private auditing firm should be called in to completely audit the state’s total K-12 budget, and make the results of that audit available to the public. I have a sneaking feeling such an audit will panic the upper echelon administrative bureaucrats and cause a firestorm among the populace. Firestorms cause cleansing…and fresh regrowth. Perhaps that’s what’s needed.

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