SACRAMENTO – State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell issued the following statement in response to the release of Governor Schwarzenegger’s May Revision:
“The two budget proposals the Governor released today offer a choice between devastating and horrific cuts to public schools. I am heartsick at the prospect that public schools in California are being asked to absorb between $800 million and $1.4 billion in the final month of the traditional school year, and then an additional $1.6 billion to $4.2 billion in the next school year. If approved, these proposed cuts would be added to the $11.6 billion in cuts to schools approved last February.
“Cuts of this magnitude will have immediate negative impacts in every school in our state. Class sizes will increase. Fewer of the 27,886 teachers who received pink slips will be retained. The ratio of students to school counselors and school nurses will widen further. Arts, music, and career technical education will be slashed. The pain of these cuts will be felt in thousands of other ways, large and small, in classrooms around our state. I am gravely concerned that these devastating cuts will interrupt our progress in improving student achievement. I am also worried that cuts this deep to California’s public schools will jeopardize our maintenance-of-effort commitment to U.S. Department of Education and put our federal stimulus money at risk.
“This is exactly the wrong conversation we should be having at this time. In order to protect the economic viability of our state, it is more critical than ever that we help all students meet their full potential, close the achievement gap, and ensure that all California students are prepared to compete in the global economy. We should be talking about doing what it takes to educate a workforce with 21st century skills.
“In order to do this we must fix the structural problems in our state budgeting process. We must consider fundamental change. I have proposed and continue to support SCA 6 by Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), which helps communities raise funds for local schools by lowering to 55 percent the threshold for approval of local parcel taxes. I also continue to call for a majority vote budget to resolve the gridlock that has plagued Sacramento for too many years. We must all be open to thinking differently and put the long-term needs of California citizens above special interest groups and politicians.”
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