To improve student performance we shorten the school year?

How are we going to pay all these bills?

A few months ago our daughter who lives in the East bay mentioned their local school district shortening the school year. I did not follow up on that comment until  reading a report from CA Watch Blog today. Is shortening the school year from 180 to 175 days really going to help our children and grandchildren compete in the global arena?

Today’s CA Watch Blog addresses this plan to reduce school classroom instruction at the following links. http://www.californiawatch.org/watchblog/california-and-utah-only-states-2-actively-shorten-school-year-175
http://californiawatch.org/k-12/majority-states-largest-districts-shrink-school-calendar-amid-budget-crisis

“California ranks next to last in states where the adult population has at least a high school education, according to a report released by the California Faculty Association at Cal State Los Angeles. Ranking 49th out of 50 states is an indication of the state’s deteriorating educational status in recent decades, according to “California at the Edge of a Cliff,” by Thomas G. Mortenson.

It is hypocritical for the governor to utter the words ‘we need job creation’ out of one side of his mouth while he cuts higher education funding from the other side of his mouth because you can’t create jobs when you are cutting the very institution that educates people to do those jobs,” said Lillian Taiz, president of the faculty association.Grappling with a $14.8 billion budget deficit, Schwarzenegger has proposed a combination of sales tax increases, borrowing and major budget cuts, including billions of dollars cut from the state’s education budget. His latest budget proposal would cut the school year by five class days.” Source: http://www.wavenewspapers.com/news/regional/37673589.html

I just read that the city of East St. Louis is facing the same financial challenges as elsewhere in the nation. “City officials wanted police and fire unions to accept a furlough program that would have required employees to take two unpaid days in each twice monthly pay period. If accepted, emergency responders would have seen a pay cut of about 20 percent for the rest of the year. (East St. Louis Mayor Alvin Parks) said the two sides couldn’t reach an agreement. On Friday, he stared at a standing-room only crowd and told his emergency response chiefs words they didn’t want to hear: “Tell your workers to start packing their things.”The news spurred shouts from the crowd. “The blood is on your hands,” yelled Michael Hubbard, an East St. Louis police officer. Hubbard said he will be the lone patrolman for East St. Louis’ midnight shift when the cuts go into effect. “This is devastating,” Hubbard told a reporter after the meeting.” Source.
http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/illinois/article_dfb230c2-9bf3-11df-9731-0017a4a78c22.html

While I cannot locate a more recent document the Jan 2005 Rand corporation provided the following assessment of our state’s education performance against the other states.
“California student achievement on national standardized tests is near the bottom of the 50 states, ranking above only Louisiana and Mississippi. California’s low scores cannot be accounted for by a high percentage of minority students, who generally have lower scores because many come from low-income families and sometimes must learn English as a second language. Controlling for students’ background, California’s scores are the lowest of any state.”

So to address the lack of a state budget we furlough teachers and send the kids home?

The next revolution in America is right around the corner. Unless we can negotiate changes in our contract agreements with organized labor, we simply cannot sustain costly pension and health care benefits that were negotiated by prior administrations.

While those of us in CA remember governor Schwarzenegger as a heroic action figure, that was all scripted in Hollywood. As governor in the real world he cannot throw a Hail Mary pass to save the state. That was confirmed by his recent remark that we may not have a budget until the new governor takes office.

Send the kids home but continue to press on with a high speed rail system while we sit on the doorsteps of bankruptcy is amazing.


About Larry Gilbert