Educators demand budget solution

March 10, 2008 8:02:12 PM PDT
California's budget problems prompted the biggest protest yet over the governor's $4 billion dollar cut to education.

So on Monday, Mr. Schwarzenegger issued an unusual challenge to legislative leaders -- he wants to lock them all in his office until they find a solution.

Education cuts are bad when school superintendents banding together, come to Sacramento and demand their money.

Protests against budget cuts to education are getting bigger and louder by the day. This time, heavy-weight superintendents from all over the state made their voices heard.

"We are not here to beg for money. We are not here to get on our knees. We are here to stand-up, and we are here to demand the money," said San Francisco Unified Schools Superintendent Carlos Garcia.

The $400 million dollars in cuts in the current year and $4.4 billion next year could have devastating effects.

The education community says schools will have to layoff teachers and support staff, stuff more kids in each classroom, eliminate elective courses and more.

"We have our own foreclosure problem with the possible closure of a second school in four years, the elimination of nearly every bussing route. We're going to have students walking three and a half miles," said Carmella Franco from the Whittier School District.

The superintendents point to an Education Week survey comparing 2005/2006 per pupil spending.

Adjusted for regional costs, the top three states spend more than $12,000 a year educating a student.

The national average is just below $9000. California ranks near the bottom, 46th at just above $7,000 dollars.

"I cannot promise this nation a citizenry that can perform on a global economy if we do not educate our children," said Los Angeles Schools superintendent David Brewer.

With a March 15th deadline to send out layoff notices to teachers looming, the Governor urged Legislative Leaders to come to the table now.

"To end the budget before March 15th, all we have to do is lock ourselves in the room for three days and not go outside and not go to the bathroom, and they will be getting upset because it will start smelling in the room a little bit, and then all of a sudden they will come to an agreement," said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) California.

Senate President Don Perata said late on Monday afternoon, he wants to deal with the budget in public hearings, not in closed "back-door" meetings.


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