Wednesday, January 27, 2010

State of California Schools: O'Connell

From Secretary O'Connell's State of the Schools address on Tues.

Now, I have just talked about things we have done and are doing. Yet, all of this amazing work has been accomplished under the dark cloud of a state budget disaster that has left our schools reeling. In just the last two budget years, $18 billion was cut from our schools. The Governor's current budget proposal would cut K-12 public education by another $2.4 billion, including cuts to the Class Size Reduction program, which I authored more than a decade ago. We already have seen class sizes increase across the state. School transportation and summer school programs have been canceled, and critical music, art, career technical education opportunities, and sports programs have been either scaled back or eliminated.
Thankfully, the $2.9 billion in federal stimulus funds from the Obama Administration threw a lifeline to our schools last year. The funds helped us avert even deeper cuts in services and personnel, make needed repairs to facilities, and advance high-quality preschool to help students and their families. Of course, this is one-time federal funding and if we do not find a way in California to appropriately invest in public education, we risk having to force our schools to further reduce instructional time, pack more kids into already crowded classrooms, permanently close libraries, lay off school nurses, and eliminate school transportation and sports programs, and make other draconian choices.
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