Thursday, March 12, 2009

8800 for LA: What's Your Number?

The LAUSD Board voted to send out notices of possible lay-offs to 8,800 teachers & staff throughout the District on Monday. The Burbank District will be sending out 128 such notices. Do you know how many your district will be sending out? Even if your children are not yet of school-age, I urge you to keep an eye on what's going on in your district.

California's legislators have decided to throw out our babies' education with the bathwater. The truly ironic part, as stated in one of the above links, is that those schools that no longer meet the 20 students to 1 teacher ratio required of CA elementary schools because of the lay-offs will have to pay a fine; yet more money and resources being taken away from our children.

I consider myself one of the lucky ones because we no longer reside in the LAUSD boundaries, but in Burbank. However, I am concerned if one (or more) of Riley's teachers will be there next year, particularly her music teacher and her speech therapist. This Friday, I will be wearing pink to show my support.

The final CA budget means that we will be spending less per pupil than any other state in the union. This in the state that houses the 2nd largest district in the nation.

I know, it's not about the money solely - it's about what the money can buy. I grew up in California, and my schools had school plays, yearbooks, art classes, music classes, typing classes, civics classes. Because we don't test on these things, more and more of them are disappearing. And then we wonder why our kids drop out of high school at alarming rates.

Those "extra-curriculurs" open the world to our kids.

Now, we have parents running across town taking the kids to take their art and music classes, to get tutoring because our teachers don't have enough time per pupil, to SAT workshops (none of which I can do as the sole income provider for my daughters). And with more than 70% of us parents working full-time, we're not spending as much time with our kids. Yet when we are with our kids, we're supposed to be available to help with homework, take them to buy supplies for their latest school project ($87 at Michael's just a few days ago), and don't forget to feed them a healthy dinner. And eat dinner together. Because chances are, when dinner's over, your child will be off doing their timed reading, or the parent needs to go back to work to make up for the time they were out volunteering at their child's school to make sure the school sees them as an "involved parent."

It's completely out of control. In my children's scholastic career thus far, I've dealt with well-meaning but ineffective teachers and end up spending all of my time with my kids teaching them what they should've been learning in school, and every GREAT teacher they've had has been taken away for reasons out of my control. I've cried in a vice-principal's office because my children didn't have a place to go after school (which also prompted a letter to the President of the school board with a cc to the First Lady of California - and lo and behold, my children got in the after-school program). I've been to Board meetings, I'm now serving on a PTA Board. I've researched charter schools, magnet schools, and have sometimes even uttered "home school" to myself - even though as a single mother, I would never be able to stay home with my children.

I know I don't have all the answers. I just wish more people would admit they don't, either. And admit that taking money and teachers away from our schools will not solve a thing.

Originally posted on LA Moms.

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