On Tuesday, the LAUSD School B0ard will vote on how to drastically reduce its upcoming budget including laying off teachers and administrators. The proposed layoffs will result in class sizes for elementary school students increasing from 24 to 29. The superintendent of schools says these cuts are necessary in order to avoid a complete disastrous situation. The alternative to layoffs is for school staff to agree to a 12 percent pay cut. The teachers' union says given that they haven't had a raised in three years, a pay cut would essentially make teachers homeless!
Like the new movie starring Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin, "It's Complicated." Clearly, there are no easy solutions to the budget deficit and crisis that has plagued LAUSD and other urban school districts for decades. In California, this situation was made worse by the recent state budget cuts to public education. Asking teachers to take a 12 percent pay cut seems like a formula for failure. Although I doubt that the majority will become homeless, we should expect
performance rates to plummet. To the contrary, lay offs will mean that already crowded classrooms will become warehouses instead of instructional sites.
There must be a better solution, one that truly makes the needs of students the primary consideration. For some reason, public education keeps falling to the bottom of the priority list for local and national elected officials. As important as new roads are to any infrastructure, imagine what could be if some of the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on "shovel ready" projects as a part of the stimulus package would have been spent on training young teachers, equipping classrooms with the latest in technology, building new facilities and overall committing to ending the educational gap that continues to widen in this country.
LAUSD teachers plan to march in front of the Superintendent's office to protest the proposed cuts and to ask for additional funding from California legislators and the federal government. I hope their pleas don't fall on deaf ears as the education of this nation's next generation is "complicated," but not intractable.