California's education outlook: huge classes, shorter school years, less learrning
- California's education outlook: huge classes, shorter school years, less
By Sharon Noguchi snoguchi@...
Posted: 12/03/2010 05:50:27 PM PST
Updated: 12/06/2010 09:09:53 AM PST
After the Legislature opens a special session today to discuss how to
close a $6 billion hole in the current state budget, schools are likely to
endure another big midyear blow. And then comes the really bad news: the
need to reconcile a projected $19.5 billion shortfall for 2011-12, partly by
Here's the likely result: "Schools will become more and more like prisons
and less and less like schools," said David Plank, a professor of education
at Stanford University. "You'll have huge classes, restive young people and
Sound drastic? So is the budget crisis.
Soon after he is sworn in next month, Governor-elect Jerry Brown will have
to present a budget for 2011-12, a year that likely will be worse than any
that California schools have endured in modern history. The deficit is so
huge that educators and officials either can't think about it or can't
That denial stems partly from successive years of cutbacks, when schools
made do and Sacramento staved off disaster with accounting tricks, a bond,
temporary tax increases and Uncle Sam's stimulus funds. Now, even as state
tax revenues continue to plunge, those options are exhausted.
Part of the problem, educators say, stems from Californians' mantra about
education that sounds like a Target slogan: Expect more, pay less.
California already spends nearly the least per-student in the nation on K-12
education, and has among the largest class sizes, and the fewest counselors,
librarians and administrators per student. How much worse could it get?
Possibilities that school officials are raising include:
A school year, already trimmed by five days in some districts, shortened by
Layoffs of counselors, librarians, athletic directors, coaches -- and an
end to after-school athletics.
Dozens of districts declaring insolvency.
The state schools system going into federal receivership.
Besides the $6 billion hole in this year's state budget and a 2011-12 state
shortfall pegged at $19.5 billion by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's
Office, schools are staring at even more: $1.7 billion the state deferred
from this fiscal year to next. The potential end of billions of dollars in
federal stimulus funds. A $2 billion drop in what the state guarantees
education through the voter-approved Proposition 98.
Edgar Cabral, a policy analyst for the LAO, calls the outlook "dire." Some
districts, he said, may go insolvent.
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