California Educator

February 2012

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ACTION California ranks: 45 IN STUDENTS PER SCHOOL NURSE (2010) 2,187 STUDENTS PER SCHOOL NURSE 47 IN PER-PUPIL FUNDING (2012) IN CLASS SIZE (2009—10) [LATEST DATA AVAILABLE] 19.8 STUDENTS PER TEACHER 48 50 IN STUDENTS PER COUNSELOR (2009—10) 810 STUDENTS PER COUNSELOR Governor's 'grim' budget proposal shows need for new revenues ALREADY REELING FROM more than $20 billion in cuts, California's public schools could suffer another $4.8 billion in "triggered cuts" if voters reject Gov. Jerry Brown's planned November initiative to raise income taxes on the state's wealthiest citizens and temporarily boost sales and use taxes by one-half cent. The governor unveiled his proposed 2012-13 budget at the state Capitol Jan. 5 and warned that the spending levels in the fiscal plan would be much lower without the income from the November initiative. With the new revenues, schools would avoid the additional cuts, and the state's chronic budget deficit of $9.2 billion would be completely eliminated by June 2013. That deficit had reached more than $33 billion when Gov. Brown came into office. The governor's ballot measure was cleared for signature gathering by Secretary of State Debra Bowen on Jan. 18. "Our schools and colleges have already been cut more than $20 billion in the last four years, and that doesn't include the latest round of millions in midyear cuts to colleges, universities, and home-to-school transpor- tation," says CTA President Dean E. Vogel. "We already rank 46th in per-pupil fund- ing — additional cuts will not help us move in the right direction. This is another stark reminder that a state with the ninth-largest economy in the world has lost its way. "California can do better, and CTA mem- bers are committed to working with parents, our communities, the governor and Legis- lature on a state budget that guarantees a better future for all of us." The governor told reporters that he regretted the fact that schools would suf- fer still more cuts should the ballot mea- sure fail, and the cuts would fall heavily on schools because education is such a large part of the state budget. While CTA is vitally concerned about the funding shortfalls that have harmed stu- dents and educators, it is also pointing to elements of the governor's budget that could Gov. Brown meets with representatives of the Burbank Teachers Association. Governor meets with educators THE SAME DAY Gov. Jerry Brown delivered the second State of the State address of his term, he paid an after-school visit to Bret Harte Elementary School to meet with representatives of the Burbank Teachers Association (BTA). Brown had contacted CTA the previous week, saying he was eager to meet with teachers for a candid dis- cussion on education issues and for reaction to his budget proposal. 32 California Educator / February 2012 The governor met with BTA building reps for an hour, discussing a number of subjects including budget cuts, test- ing, class size, and the critical need to pass his tax proposal to prevent deeper cuts to education and other services. He was receptive to many educator concerns, including the out-of-control impact of testing and test preparation. BTA President Lori Adams pressed the governor to do something about funding cuts and the current practice of school districts using almost-always-wrong three-year budget projections to make current decisions about cuts. "Districts operate out of fear," said Adams. "And they end up keeping resources we need now out of the classroom." Although the meeting was closed to the media, after- ward the governor was mobbed by a throng of TV cam- eras and reporters. He shared many of the BTA member concerns he had heard, proffering a district school test- ing schedule he'd been given as evidence that something needs to be done to cut back on the intrusion of standard- ized testing on regular instruction. CTA Board member Bonnie Shatun, who teaches first grade at Harte, praised the governor for really listening to teachers. "He was very engaged in what BTA members had to say about issues like class size, lack of materials, and an overemphasis on testing," she said. "He argued his own point of view where we dis- agree, but he clearly understands that the people in the classroom have a better understanding than bureaucrats of what's needed to improve student achievement." By Frank Wells CTA Photo by Frank Wells

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