Wednesday, February 04, 2009

State of the Schools in California : O'Connell

State of Education Address, February 3, 2009 Excerpts
Superintendent O'Connell on the status of education in California.
Back to State of Education Address, February 3, 2009
Good morning. Thank you all for being here.
Today in California we face a defining moment for public education. We gather at a moment of great uncertainty. But I want you to know that I stand before you today hopeful. Hopeful for the future of our country, hopeful for California, and hopeful for our public schools, even at this difficult time.
Yes, these times are turbulent with no clear skies ahead. The national economic downturn and the budget shortfall facing our state are creating havoc in every one of California's schools and districts. Every teacher, every principal, and every superintendent I speak with wonders how we will make it through the next school year.
Friends, the state of public education is precarious. Beyond the immediate crisis, and even more alarming to me, is the long-term future of our common education system. If we continue down the road we are on our public schools and our state itself face certain, perhaps irreparable, damage.
Let's look at the immediate crisis: With more than half of the school year completed, our schools are faced with staggering, immediate budget cuts. The budget being negotiated may result in current-year reduction to education funding of $10 billion. These cuts are nothing short of breathtaking:
Hayward Unified plans to lay off as many as 170 teachers and increase class sizes from 20 to 32 students.
In Merced, as in many other school districts, school bus transportation is on the chopping block.
In Lake Elsinore, not only are veteran teachers being given incentives to retire, schools are putting duct tape over light switches to save on electricity.
And on and on all over this state.
And as painful as these midyear cuts are, we can expect worse over the next two years: Larger class sizes and fewer classroom aides. Outdated textbooks, longer bus rides or no buses at all. Less support for English learners and for our neediest schools. Fewer librarians, counselors and nurses. Districts are choosing between hiring a math teacher and buying math books. Most tragically, these cuts come at the same time that the need for investment in better schools and more support services has grown.
The number of homeless students in our schools increased nearly 19 percent in the 2006-07 school year, and we know that percentage is rapidly growing. Hunger is also on the increase. Our schools served 28 million more free school lunches in 2007-08 than the year before. Historically, subsidized school lunches have increased by 1 percent a year. Between September 2007 and September 2008, we saw an alarming 12 percent rise.
The students behind these percentages are the students who need more time in school, not less, more adults on staff who care, not fewer.
We know downturns like this hit the most vulnerable among us the hardest. It's the children in our schools struggling to learn the English language or those who come from poverty or who live with a learning disability that will be the first to feel the pain of cuts. Sadly, this comes after a long-term California focus on closing achievement gaps that is just now starting to show modest progress.
Let me be crystal clear, all of our progress as a high-expectation state is at risk unless we commit ourselves now to being innovative, flexible, and focused as never before. It is time for us to prioritize and to focus on only those things we know are working to close the achievement gap and help all students succeed.
Read the entire statement at www.cde.ca.gov

FAIR USE NOTICE: THIS SITE CONTAINS COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL THE USE OF WHICH HAS NOT ALWAYS BEEN SPECIFICALLY AUTHORIZED BY THE COPYRIGHT OWNER. WE ARE MAKING SUCH MATERIAL AVAILABLE IN OUR EFFORTS TO ADVANCE UNDERSTANDING OF ENVIRONMENTAL, POLITICAL, HUMAN RIGHTS, ECONOMIC, DEMOCRACY, SCIENTIFIC, AND SOCIAL JUSTICE ISSUES, ETC. WE BELIEVE THIS CONSTITUTES A 'FAIR USE' OF ANY SUCH COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL AS PROVIDED FOR IN SECTION 107 OF THE US COPYRIGHT LAW. IN ACCORDANCE WITH TITLE 17 U.S.C. SECTION 107, THE MATERIAL ON THIS SITE IS DISTRIBUTED WITHOUT PROFIT TO THOSE WHO HAVE EXPRESSED A PRIOR INTEREST IN RECEIVING THE INCLUDED INFORMATION FOR RESEARCH AND EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES. FOR MORE INFORMATION GO TO: HTTP://WWW.LAW.CORNELL.EDU/USCODE/17/107.SHTML. IF YOU WISH TO USE COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL FROM THIS SITE FOR PURPOSES OF YOUR OWN THAT GO BEYOND 'FAIR USE,' YOU MUST OBTAIN PERMISSION FROM THE COPYRIGHT OWNER.
Post a Comment
 
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.