Schools Chief Jack O'Connell Issues Statement on Budget Deal
SACRAMENTO — State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell issued the following statement today regarding the budget agreement struck by the Governor and the Legislative Leadership:
"I am glad to see that the Governor and Legislative leadership have reached an agreement that addresses our budget shortfall and resolves our cash-flow crisis, at least for this year. Sadly, the agreement includes $6.1 billion in cuts in Proposition 98 funding. This new massive reduction, which is added to the $11.6 billion in school funding cut just last February, will result in very real consequences for students. Larger class sizes, canceled summer school, a shorter school year, and no new textbooks are just a few of the painful results. I fully recognize that given the magnitude of our state fiscal crisis, the pain for schools could have been worse than that created by the agreement that was reached. I am pleased that the agreement did not include a suspension of Proposition 98 and that schools eventually will get the approximately $9.2 billion that is owed under the Prop. 98 guarantee.
"Nevertheless, the reductions that our schools must absorb now will heighten the challenge educators face in trying to increase student achievement and close the achievement gap, and I fear that the last decade of progress in statewide student test scores will be interrupted. I continue to have faith in the hard work of our teachers, administrators, school staff, parents, and students, and I sincerely hope that this fear is proven unfounded.
"I am pleased that the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) will remain as a condition of graduation for most students, but it is unfortunate that the agreement excludes the CAHSEE requirement for students with disabilities. Many thousands of students with disabilities have passed the Exit Exam, and many more will continue to take and pass this test. The Exit Exam requirement has pushed our system to help ensure that all students have the critical basic skills in English-language arts and math that are needed for productive work or college after high school. Eliminating this requirement for students with disabilities who are on a diploma track does nothing to help prepare these students for success after high school."