Saturday, August 30, 2008

California budget stalemate

The California budget remains a stalemate. The Senate’s first vote was 3 votes short. That is, no Republicans voted for the budget. Passing a budget in California requires a 2/3 vote which requires that some Republicans vote for a budget to pass.

The proposed budget includes new “temporary” taxes. Then, in addition it requires substantial borrowing. Now I am not opposed to borrowing in general. However, at present the state has been borrowing for three years. When state and local governments borrow, they have to pay interest.
At present the interest we are paying on the borrowing is greater than the budget of the California State University system. If more borrowing is made necessary then more interest will be paid.
California dramatically under funds its schools. We rank about 27th in per pupil expenditure of the 50 states. If you compare the states and compare cost of living in each state, Superintendent O’Connell says that California ranks 49th. out of the 50 states.
In 2003, then Governor Gray Davis gave more money to the schools. In 2007 Governor Schwarzennegger gave more money in the Quality Investment in Education act. But now, in this budget crisis, we are limiting our spending on schools. California is not making educational progress in significant part because we refuse to adequately fund our schools.
So, if in response to Republican strategy the current budget can only be passed by borrowing, then in a future year there will be less money, and their will also be money spent paying interest on the debt.
This does not move us forward. Borrowing on the budget may be an unwelcome necessity. However, it does not move in any way toward school budget improvement nor toward dealing with California’s educational crises.

A repost.
The Budget; education; and selling us a bridge to nowhere.

The California budget is a mess- at least a $15 Billion deficit. About half of California’s schools are in a mess: the Governor’s own report Students First reports that California’s students rank 48th. out of the states in 4th. grade reading on the NAEP, 47th. in 4th. grade math, and 43rd. in 4th. grade science. California ranks 48th. in 8th. grade reading on the NAEP, 45th. in 8th. grade math, and 42nd in 8th. grade science.
That is, our schools are in crisis, particularly our schools serving Black, Latino and economically disadvantaged students. And, after 20 years of “school reform,” there has been no real progress.
So what is proposed in the Governor’s budget? Well first they propose to cut $4.1 billion from the schools. This will increase class size, eliminate counselors and lead to teacher lay offs. The Governor would also will cut health care to some seniors, the disabled, and children.
While cutting and slashing, the Governor also proposes spending at an estimated 9 million additional dollars for a new video based test for new teachers (TPA or PACT). This new test has no relationship to the crisis in school achievement of California’s failing schools. It does, however, provide career advancement for test writers and professors at Stanford and elsewhere, provide them with coffee, donuts and catered food and travel money while they meet, and it keeps them from having to work with real teachers in real classrooms to deal with the problems students in real schools.
It is a bridge to nowhere. A boondoggle. The state might as well fund research on developing rain forests in the Iowa prairie. And, unless the California Assembly Budget Committee acts, it is a boondoggle that you and I will pay for.
It is a bridge to create a test that is not needed and will not improve teaching nor learning, but a few bureaucrats and three college professors want it. So, while we don’t have money for class size reduction, summer school, and safe schools, we have money for this. Excuse me- I thought that we had a budget crisis and a school crisis, but I haven’t heard of a test crisis.
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