Saturday, October 19, 2019

SCUSD Budget - Lets not be fooled-Again

The Sacramento Bee reported on Friday that SCUSD budget had again been disapproved by the County Office of Education.  
“County schools officials last month disapproved Sacramento City Unified’s adopted budget because the district — although making “considerable progress towards stabilizing the budget” — fell short of meeting its minimum reserve requirement by $27 million in 2021-22.” 
While accurate, this reporting fails to deal with several of the key issues in the  school budget.  First notice that last year we were consistently told that SCUSD was on the brink of bankruptcy. Over 100 teachers were laid  off. Several moved to other districts.  At the end of the year, the district had almost no deficit.  It has begun the year with at least 60 teacher positions not filled- most are filled by substitutes.  This increases school failure.   See here.
If you read the report, the district will meet its budget requirements and reserve requirements for this year and next.  – But- oh crisis !  They will not have enough in reserve in the third year. 
The action by the County Office of Education and Superintendent Gordon is a political attack.  Gordon has been singing this song since the Reagan Administration. SCOE reports criticize the teaches union but do not criticize the size and competence of the SCUSD administration. 
The policy positions urged by Gordon are classic claims of austerity.  An official claims to be objective and announces  a budget crisis and then  proposes cut back ( that is reduction in education opportunities) as the only solution. In reality, the economic crisis is half baked and the there are other solutions, such as having the giant corporations like Amazon pay their taxes.  Some, not all, of these solutions would require state legislation.  There will be an item on the ballot in 2020 to raise taxes to adequately fund the schools.
In the meantime, readers should be skeptical of pronouncements from SCOE and Gordon. They are engaged in a public campaign to blame teachers for the inadequate funding of our schools.  This is a persistent effort of promoting a viewpoint called neoliberalism. 
Here is a summary of the neoliberal viewpoint in finance.
In addition to an economic policy, neoliberalism is also a political project.

Important components of neoliberalism are the consideration of the market as a pre eminent process of decision making. Markets are privileged and regulations or rules on trade and commerce are opposed.  Advocates of neoliberalism promote cutting public expenditures such as schooling and health care and social services. The promote deregulation of markets such as eliminating the Glass- Steagall’s limits on banking and deregulation of any practice that produces profits for some. 

In many places they promote privatization of state owned enterprises through private investment, including energy companies, utilities, and similar companies.  

1.    The Rule of the Market which liberates “free” enterprise from any bonds (regulations) imposed by the government no matter how much social damage this causes. 
2.    Cutting Public Expenditures for social services such as education and health care. 
3.    Deregulation of any policies, practices or laws that could diminish profits, including environmental protection and worker safety. 
4.    Privatization of state owned enterprises, goods, and services through sales to private investors . such as charter schools. 
5.    Eliminating the Concept of “The Public Good” or “Community” and replacing it with “individual responsibility.” (Martinez & Garcia, 2000) 
6.    Assaults on labor unions. 

Based upon Gorlewski & Gorlewski, 2012

For a detailed discussion and data of how this works see


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