What has happened to public education funding in California over the past five years has left all of us shaking our heads and asking how we can continue to provide the current high levels of instruction, support and programs when the state continues to reduce their fiscal commitment to our students.
I am tired of the eroding of public education funding in the State of California, the damage it is doing to the integrity of the opportunities we can provide for our students and the emotional damage it is causing the people within our organization.
The education budget for next year is in peril. Governor Brown has proposed two tax initiatives for the November ballot that, if not passed, will result in an additional cut to education funding in the amount of $2 billion -- a $10.1 million cut to .
The use of education as a political pawn to entice people to vote for tax increases is a tactic that puts student programs and instructional integrity at risk. In addition, it places our employees in a position of fearing for their jobs and or ability to meet their financial obligations as they are once again asked to consider voluntary deductions to their salaries.
There is no denying that the quality of living within a community is influenced by the quality and level of education of those who make up the populous. Why does our state continue to short fund this vital service? Why is California at the bottom in our nation in per pupil funding? Why do we have the highest class sizes and the fewest administrators? Why is it that the ninth largest economy in the world cannot, or chooses not, to fund the education of its children?
Recently, I was made aware of a high performing district in the state of Maryland. As I reviewed the statistics of the district, it became clear to me that this is a community that has made education a top priority.
I was amazed to find out the district has 50,000 students, an annual operating budget of $689 million and class sizes that start at 19 in kindergarten and max at 23 in high school. Compare that to our district of 29,000 students, a projected budget of $189 million dollars and class sizes of 22 -- possibly headed to 30 -- in kindergarten and rising to over 40 in high school.
Is it reasonable to conclude that the students in Maryland are receiving education services that ours are not?
I will defend what happens in our classrooms with my last breath, as I believe our teachers, administrators and support staff are doing amazing things in support of our students. However, compared to Maryland they simply do not have the resources.
Is this fair to our children? Why has one state made education the priority, yet ours has not? Don’t our children deserve more?
If you are angry and fed up with what is happening to education in California, please join me and do something that has the potential to help.We need to collectively let our lawmakers know that our children deserve a guarantee of the highest quality educational opportunities.
I understand that California has budget problems, but solutions and strategies employed to resolve these problems can no longer come from education. We cannot afford to watch passively as education funding is methodically reduced to a point that we lose more teachers, reduce more programs, and eliminate more services.
We are not on the right path and our lawmakers are making decisions that are not in the best interest of our students or our future economic health. We can no longer take a passive stance and allow education to fall victim to more cuts.
Please join me in writing letters and making phone calls to let those in Sacramento know that we are at a critical point, a true tipping point and that without immediate response, our education system in this state is in peril.
You can find a list of our local legislators by clicking here.
-- By Timothy Ritter, superintendent of the Temecula Valley Unified School District