Today we face a critical juncture in the lives of our children. As the state of California, like nearly every other state in our great nation, grapples with the fiscal challenges of an ominous budget, concerned parents such as me are staring into the bleak future of Public Education.
Why is our Public Education system being allowed to continue to suffer, year after year while our representatives on every level of government continue to fly the banner of a strong education with the expectations of higher test scores, improvements in student achievement and advancement, yet with less and less support? Yet despite the harsh realities threatening our learning environments, it is continued support that so many of our wonderfully talented teachers provide our students and parents across the LAUSD.
This Spring brought about not just the end of Winter but the beginning of what is becoming a stressful, demoralizing and exhaustive annual ritual—RIF Season. As a concerned parent, I acknowledge the difficult decisions the School Board faces to alleviate a bloated $390 million budget deficit; however, with these inevitable cuts careful consideration should be exercised with regards to how the available budget should be invested in the future of our students, our children particularly through the retention and rescinding of certificated RIF’d staff.
We are so lucky to have so many teachers and staff who engage our children, challenge and inspire them through their innovative instruction. Our teachers are always encouraging their students to think critically of their curriculum and to face problems head on with the will to resolve. These skills that they are guiding our daughters and sons and their peers to develop and hone are essential not only to their successes as student but as a growing young women and men ready to face and overcome life’s many challenges.
The overwhelming majority of teachers are spectacular at what they do. Whether it’s tending the garden, analyzing literature, enjoying new ways to consume mathematics, nursing caterpillars on their journey through metamorphosis, test scores, talent shows, discipline, science projects, angry parents, prepositional phrases, electromagnets, persuasive essays, graphed equations, loose teeth, bloody noses, hurt feelings and all...our teachers are cherished by all students who interact with them. So many of our teachers have the innate ability to fine tune each of their pupils to excel and create in ways that few others can while fully engaging her parents as much as her students.
As both a committed supporter of and product of our public schools, it is the apparent lack of consideration of the merits and measurable impact that our teachers have on our students that continues to frustrate parents like myself.
Seniority alone should not be the driving mechanism in the selection of those instructors who shall remain at the service of preparing our children to be successful in this global economy. Rather, it is the effectiveness and the visible results and not tenure and test scores alone that should have a significant influence on the difficult decision of which instructors should be spared and be given continued investment.
Despite the continued decrease in per-pupil expenditures (where according to data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and Professor Lori Taylor, Texas A&M University EdSource 9/10, during 2007-2008, the State of California ranked 43rd in the nation in per-pupil expenditures of $8,853, well below the national average of $10,297 after adjustments based on the average salary costs in each state), so many of our talented instructors provide a significant return on investment for the LAUSD and would be an immeasurable resource for our young scholars.
It is with my sincerest hope that the LAUSD School Board, the
United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) and Governor Brown and the State of
California can seek out better alternatives than the continued compromising of
our children's education and our future. I hope they can be more creative, like
their talented teachers and staff, with their solutions to this ever widening
problem of funding for education. As parents we need to stand up, speak out and
persuade our Board Members, our Superintendent , State Representatives and Governor Brown to seek a better way out than continued cuts in the quality and duration of our school year.
We are required, as responsible parents, to seek out an end to the continued fleecing of our children's education. The Teachers Union and the LAUSD School Board should use the LAUSD, the nation's 2nd largest school district, as a model of how we can demonstrate to the city, state and the world for that matter the priority we have in Education.
With the continued tightening of our belts, the laying off of
staff, the further shortening of the academic calendar and a saddening dropout
rate I would hope that the LAUSD would finally get on the map with stories
other than their continued construction of the nation's most expensive schools:
$578M for the RFK Community Schools , $378M for the Edward R. Roybal Learning Center (formerly the infamous Belmont Learning Center) and $232M
for the Ramon C. Cortines School for Visual and Performing Arts.
With the responsibilities that our teachers and staff carry it is a shame that they are not more fairly compensated for their roles in the lives of our children and in the future our communities. Our teachers and staff should be held with the highest regard, respected and valued for the critical role they play in our children's development and the future of our nation and this should start with the rescinding of the thousands of Reduction In Force notifications issued to so many of our colleagues, neighbors and friends for the benefit of all of our children, and for the benefit of our diverse community.
EDUCATION IS TOO BIG TO FAIL!