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December 17, 2010

Budget cuts are a continuing problem for schools across the country. Here, LA English teacher Mat Taylor discusses the problems the cuts have already caused.

Helpless(Originally posted at Remember Fremont)

Unfortunately for students, parents and teachers alike, the leader of LAUSD, Ramon Cortines is sadly out-of-touch, misinformed and dead wrong about 15th St Elementary School, as well as our schools in general.

With massive lay-offs of our custodians and plant managers, bathrooms and classrooms are not cleaned on anything approaching “a daily basis” at many, many of our schools, including my son’s, 15th St. ES. Restrooms had to be closed because they were so filthy and unsafe.  This led to the still open ones becoming that way. One of many anecdotes at 15th St. was of parents having to clean lunch benches so that their children could have a safe place to eat. My wife personally had to kill maggots that were underneath three benches where the kindergarten children eat!

LAUSD is ranked #23 out of 47 unified districts in LA County in health care compensation, while teacher pay is LAST.  To have Cortines call this “generous” and why  “so many new teachers want to work at LAUSD” is an insult to teachers and our communities.  Our parents deserve and want the best for our students, like compensation that attracts and retains the best teachers, and budgets that would create lower class sizes.

As far as administrative budget cuts, LAUSD still retains an 8:1 teacher to administrator ratio, as they have for many years.  Also, only 61% of the total LAUSD budget is spent on classroom instruction, the same figure for many years.  Budget cuts by Cortines and LAUSD  School Board have not altered those key numbers.

Parents and teachers alike view with suspicion District cuts of custodians and secretaries, and teacher pay cuts for this and last year, while fully funding administrative priorities, especially in a time of financial crisis.

The solution? Parents and teachers are coming together and educating ourselves. We will no longer tolerate inaccurate information from the District that leads to unsafe, dirty campuses, overcrowded classrooms and indiscriminate layoffs. When 95% of the budget is spent on the classroom and at schools, then we can talk about allowing such terrible and unjust cuts. Currently the cuts being made are crippling public education in Los Angeles and depriving my son and other great kids a proper education.

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