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ACSA President Charles Weis:

"California's Lawmakers Have Got To Do More Than Continually Hold Out a Hat for Federal Grant Funding"

November 20, 2009

Charles Weis, president of the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) and the leaders of the California Schools Boards Association, California Teachers Association, California School Employees Association and California State PTA joined on Tuesday to blast the $17 billion in statewide budget cuts to public schools over the past two years. Acting as The Education Coalition of California, they released a report chronicling the impact of the cuts from the perspective of students, teachers and administrators. Although education only represents 40 percent of the state budget, California public schools have been subjected to 60 percent of the cuts.

“We strive to create a public school system where students can learn in classrooms that are free of overcrowding, with up-to-date textbooks and state-of-the-art technology, and in schools with updated facilities,” ACSA president Charles Weis explained. “But with these historic cuts to public education, our state’s leaders are denying students the basic resources they need to succeed.”

“Our students are expected to compete in a world that is rapidly changing, with advancements in science and technology reshaping the future. In their future, today's students will be taking on jobs that don’t yet exist. Today’s students will be using technologies that haven’t been invented. And today's students will be solving problems that we don’t even know are problems yet,” Weis continued.

“Teachers stand with their school community colleagues in wanting to remind the public of the damage being done to the academic future of our students by massive cuts,” said David A. Sanchez, president of the CTA. “It's not business as usual in our classrooms any more. American Education Week is a time to stand up for our public schools and to draw the line against further cuts.”

“Parents are stepping up as never before to help out our schools. They're volunteering in classrooms, serving on committees and joining PTAs in rising numbers. But they can't make up for ongoing budget cuts,” added Jo Loss, president of the California State PTA, which has nearly 1 million members throughout the state. “These cuts undermine all our talk about rising expectations, widening opportunity and closing the achievement gap. Arts instruction, class-size reduction and other programs that are crucial to these goals are being wiped out. It's time to find the leadership and courage to honor our promises to California's children.”

Weis added “There has been extraordinary focus in the media about lawmakers’ recent attempts to ensure California schools are more likely to receive Race to the Top funding. California’s state lawmakers have got to do more than continually hold out a hat for federal grant funding and instead focus on long-term funding solutions for our schools and students.”

Below are a few excerpts from the report:

“…On the first day of school, my seat in math was in the far corner and I couldn’t read the board. With the increased class sizes, it takes longer to go through a math lecture since the teacher has to answer more questions.  Instead of being able to go over homework quickly and teach the lesson slowly, we spend half of class answering questions, leaving only 20 minutes for the new lesson. In my AP European history my teacher has asked for donations for supplies…”

— Stephany Young, 15, Student, Walnut High School, Walnut, CA

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“Our math classes are packed to the brim. Our neediest students are in "Algebra A," a course for freshmen who need a two-year Algebra program. When I started teaching 10 years ago, these were the first programs targeted for 20:1.Now those classes are staffed at 34:1…”

— Alison Signorotti, Teacher, Amador County Unified School District

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“We have eliminated 80% of our library services…”

— Steve Mitrovich, Superintendent, Pacheco Union School District, Anderson, CA

Source:   Association of California School Administrators