California should reverse proposed cuts to education

May 30, 2008 — by Brittany Judoprasetijo

For as long as many people can remember, California has been suffering a gaping budget crisis. With each year building up more debt, Gov. Schwarzenegger estimates that this year’s deficit has grown to $16 billion. The governor has proposed cuts to different areas to help alleviate the strain. Parents of students enrolled in the University of California school system are gearing up for increased tuitions for the 08-09 school year.

With the majority of the state budget focused on K-12 education, it is no surprise that Schwarzenegger wants to cut spending for school districts by $4.4 billion. Cuts will target everything from community colleges to teacher salaries.

These cuts, however, are not the answer to the budget crisis.

In fact, rather than budget cuts, education should receive more funding. Even the Governor’s Committee on Education Excellence claims that California needs even more resources to ensure all students in California receive a quality education.

Schools in California receive over 60 percent of their funding from the state and use this money for textbooks, teachers’ salaries and employee benefits.

Education is the most important investment a government can make. The saying “knowledge is power” speaks true to the past, present and future. Education lays the foundation each person needs to make smart decisions and ultimately contribute to society and the economy.

According to the California Budget Project (BBP), the governor’s proposed budget cuts will affect 239,030 students in Santa Clara County public schools. As a result of cuts to child development programs, there will be 670 fewer children in the county enrolled in child care and preschool.

This is bad not only for preschool and child care program businesses, but for young toddlers as well. Research has shown that children who attend preschool tend to have a better academic foundation than those who don’t. These children also have a higher rate of success and independence in life. With fewer children in preschool, the state is practically raising children to become future unsuccessful citizens.

Although the Los Gatos-Saratoga Union High School District will not be as affected by the budget cuts as much as other districts because of its Basic Aid status, it will nevertheless feel strain. Class sizes will expand, increasing the ever-high student-teacher ratio. With Honors and AP classes overflowing with students, the school plans to counter this by increasing the number of advanced English classes for the 08-09 school year. This, however, is not a trend every school can follow. There is an average of 20 students per teacher in California as compared to the national average of 14, making the state second in terms of highest student-teacher ratio, according to the CBP.

Many schools are trying to decrease their spending and increase their number of teachers by laying off janitors, not replacing retiring teachers and having librarians and other school administrators teach.

This side effect will negatively influence students’ education. It will be even harder for students to learn from less-qualified instructors who haven’t taught for long periods of time. Not all students will or can study more independently so having unqualified instructors will produce more unsuccessful students.

If there is one thing the governor wants to cut funding from, it should be for special education programs. In 05-06 these programs account for 18.6 percent of school funding in the state, while only 10.8 percent of students are enrolled in these programs. This means that there is more special education funding than there are special education students.

If the right actions aren’t taken, the state of California will face an even larger debt than it currently has. Instead of cutting education, the governor should increase funding in order to ensure every student in California has quality education. At the same time though, the government needs to fund school programs more wisely.

Rather than relying so heavily on personal income taxes, the state should use property taxes as a more stable means of funding. The economy fluctuates almost predictably every five years, with incomes following the same pattern. Using income taxes so heavily results in unstable amounts of money for the state each year.

More money should go to areas that require more assistance and less to the ones that do not need as much. In this massive budget crisis and receding economy, every dollar the governor chooses to spend counts—for both the lives of present and future adult citizens.

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