Full marks to Gov. Brown for signing AB114 into law last week! For those of you unfamiliar with the bill, AB114 suspends the rights of school districts to lay off teachers this August. Districts have been instructed to build their budgets based on the same funding levels as last year. If the state revenues come in lower than projected, districts can either choose to take out loans or they can try to negotiate unpaid furlough days with their employee groups, thereby reducing the school year by up to 12 days. AB114 would not reverse lay-offs already carried out this spring or prevent lay-offs next August.
Critics of AB114 claim that the California Teachers Association, which backed AB114, is simply protecting members' jobs. However, California now trails 48 other states in the ratio of students to teachers, resulting in some of the largest class sizes in the country. Gov. Brown values public education, understands the importance of class size reduction, and is determined to provide a one-year period of stability against the emotional upheaval of teacher lay-offs that has plagued our students for the last three years.
Fiscal responsibility is important, but protecting our students by keeping their class sizes low is just as important. Ironically, the people who are most vehemently opposed to AB 114 are the same people who selfishly argued against the extension of the temporary taxes that would have provided billions more in state funding for our schools. I give Gov. Brown a gold star.
Trevor Knaggs, President, Association of Pleasanton Teachers