Superintendent Cortines recently announced his plans to balance the LAUSD budget for the 10-11 school year through massive layoffs (again) or a 12% pay cut by LAUSD teachers. It also includes 4 furlough days for this school year. Apparently, the bargaining units have to accept/reject/negotiate this offer by early December, since that is when the school board must submit a balanced budget to Sacramento.
We have to wonder why the District refuses to offer a clear look into their books so the units can make suggestions for cuts away from the classroom, instead of continuing the strategy of laying off teachers (and raising class sizes) to balance their budget. We wonder why this news was announced with such little time for meaningful negotiation. Perhaps it is part of the new trend to usher controversial proposals through with little time to allow for dissent.
Should teachers receive a wage reduction? If there is nowhere else to cut, then it must be considered. But the consequences of these cuts bode poorly for a district already reeling from years of cuts and mismanagement. Dual teacher households may reach the point where it makes more financial sense to keep a teacher at home for child rearing. Teachers with other viable work options will bolt, as did teachers last year who left en masse to charter schools, neighboring districts, and other jobs. Future teaching candidates will understandably not consider entering the teaching profession due to its lower wages that cannot possibly pay off their student loans in their lifetimes. In other words, the best and the brightest candidates will not become teachers. The quality of the teaching ranks will drop.
And schools? We will see more of what we see now, at this school. Lots of new faces, as teachers get shuffled around the district, students feeling abandoned and not cared for, a rise in discipline infractions as new teachers are still learning the culture of their new school and students take advantage of it, a HUGE gap in learning as people refuse to work in "the ghetto" and classes stay unfilled with rotating subs almost every month, schools not meeting their API and getting branded as failures, charters swooping in like vultures promising to be the solution to education's ills, and finally, a permanent fragmentation of a school district with good schools for certain students, and public ed schools for the most disenfranchised.
Gloomy outlook? We wish. We hope to be wrong about this. But as a school, and as educators, we predicted every step that would happen so far in this year of cuts and layoffs. The links in the sidebar also document the very real results of cuts in classrooms all over Los Angeles.
The Superintendent will say there is no other choice. He will refuse to discuss details of his programs or answer questions about how the school giveaway movement may have added to the deficit for next year. But the Super will have his way, because the School Board will fear he will quit, as he threatened to do last year, if his budget doesn't get passed. Where are the philanthropists when we need them? Oh that's right; they are helping the charters, with millions of dollars in assistance during this difficult time. But who will help us?
image from lh5.ggpht.com