Tomorrow will be no ordinary Sunday for over 10,100 Californians. These unlucky thousands, all public school teachers and administrators, will know for certain if they are going to be laid off as their school districts brace for budget cuts.
California, as deep as its money problems go, has for years performed this horrendous disservice to its K-12 educators. March firings have become an unhappy anniversary for schools, and new teachers or those who teach art, P.E. and music often get the boot first. Teachers receiving pink slips may be rehired next school term as school enrollment demands, but can you imagine the disheartening effect getting fired, then maybe rehired, then certainly fired again, has on already underpaid and overworked teachers?
The most substantial solution for underfunded education is to repeal Proposition 13, the 1978 referendum that put all public education funding in the hands of state and property tax revenue. These taxes are capped, meaning that no matter the value of a piece of real estate, the homeowner will never pay more than 1 percent on its value. Great for homeowners, horrible for schools.
It’s time Californians seriously thought about what saving money on their taxes is doing to teachers and children, especially underprivileged kids who live in poorer areas. In most well-to-do parts of the state, private donations keep the area’s public schools functioning at an above average level. I come from one such area, Santa Clara County, where most public schools are phenomenal. Not the same story for L.A. County, or Oakland, where the average median income is $68,400, $12,000 less than the lowest average income in all of Santa Clara.
How can we expect talented, enthusiastic and dedicated people to teach when teachers now feel frustrated, underappreciated, and all but forgotten? Since teachers will find out tomorrow if they are indeed jobless next year, how can they stay motivated for the three months left in this school year?
Above all, children will suffer. They’re already learning in overcrowded classrooms. In the long run, attracting good teachers will become increasingly difficult for school districts and the quality of education will continue to drop (California has been ranked in the bottom five states as far as education goes for over a decade).
California’s citizens and politicians need a serious attitude adjustment when it comes to education. If teachers got the support and salaries they deserve, we’d all be a lot smarter.