FAIL, NO BAIL – No Bailout for Public Schools

The "Education " Governor?

The "Education " Governor?

As a mother of three children in the public school system in California, I am deeply concerned about their education come fall.  Our governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger who deemed himself pro education in his campaign will be slashing billions of dollars to our schools effecting each and every child in the public school system.  I understand we are perhaps in the midst of a modern day “depression” and he has declared the state of California to be in a “financial Armageddon” but what is a parent to do?  My children attend a school that is in the top 10% yet they have art 6 times a YEAR and music and once a week.  We currently are implementing class size reduction with our K-2 grades having 20 kids/class.  Come fall teachers will be fired and class sizes will morph to 30+ kids.  I suggested to one of our school board members that we should create an afterschool fee based program that will offer art, music and languages so our children can continue to receive the education they deserve.  If private school is not an option, should one homeschool?  Where is the bailout for our public schools, our children, our future?  Aren’t they more important than cars?

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7 Responses to FAIL, NO BAIL – No Bailout for Public Schools

  1. Dallas says:

    As reported in CNN money column,http://money.cnn.com/2008/12/22/autos/trucks_back/, more SUVs and trucks than cars were sold in December of 2008. This is a situation I find inconceivable, and reflects an unwillingness to change. If we are to demand new priorities in Washington and Sacramento, shouldn’t our choices at home reflect those values? We must actively participate in setting new priorities in our lives and in our schools.

  2. Judy C. says:

    This is indeed a very worrisome time in California as the state debt rises daily at an alarming rate. It is frustrating to watch, once again, the education system become one of the first casualties of slashed budgets. My question is – why is it that it is always Physical Education, Art, Music and Drama that are the first subjects to be slashed or dropped in schools? Your creative suggestion to address the shameful amount of music and art time is excellent but isn’t it sad that these invaluable subjects may have to be offered outside of school time?

  3. Namita K says:

    Supplementing art, music and drama classes outside of school has become the norm. In today’s competitive world where so much emphasis is paid to how well you do something rather than just doing an activity for fun; the combination of school cut backs and a competitive society is creating a generation of stressed out kids. There is something to be said for learning Art, Drama and Music in a classroom environment which fosters cooperation and creativity skills in children. Loose those and you loose overall.

  4. Sara says:

    Our public school district in Bellevue, Washington has had a schools foundation for about 30 years. At that time, our local property tax revenues were divied up state-wide, greatly decreasing the amount of funding for our neighborhood schools. Today individual and corporate donations contribute about $1.5 million annually to fund programs promoting academic rigor, student support and assistance for teachers pursuing their National Board Certification credential.

    While only a stop-gap measure in addressing the problem of chronic underfunding of education in the state of Washington (we are like 43rd in the nation in terms of class size and teacher compensation), Foundation funding leverages a great deal in terms of providing a buttoned-down academic program to 16,500 students each and every year, despite the grevous lack of public funding.

    There are numerous school foundations sprouting up all over the country – as the private sector now has to take matters into its own hands to ensure adequate public education. The Los Altos Educational Foundation in CA is another good example.

    I like a district-wide approach better than an after-school fee based program because it is more egalitarian: all the kids benefit from a robust program – including the 20% of district studentsin Bellevue qualifying for “free and reduced lunch.”

  5. I think that parents have often had to supplement to provide meaningful extracurricular activities, as witnessed by the endless array of private music lessons, “club” sports teams, youth drama programs, etc. I think your suggestion of an afternoon fee-based program is a good one as is the concept of creating a school foundation and getting local private industry involved.

    Schools are now being asked to do much, much more than when we attended. It used to be basic academics, lunch, and recess, with a few extras thrown in. Now schools are required to offer before/after school care options; integrate special needs into the curriculum; include life skills classes; teach to the test; etc. No wonder art and music get dropped!

  6. Melissa says:

    Desperate times require creative – and collaborative -thinking. In Washington State, public education is facing its worst budget crisis in 25 years. The last time our District faced such extreme pressure (25 years ago)a Schools Foundation was established.

    Schools foundations, as Sara pointed out, have been so instrumental to keeping valuable programs available to all students.

    The art program is run by parent “Art Docents” in our district. The schools foundation bought the curriculum and materials and parent volunteers (often having significant art training or art history backgrounds)lead the classes. The time commitment of the parent is minimal so even a working parent with the interest and desire can do it. And the children still get regular, quality art classes.

    There are supplemental, paid classes available after school as well for those wanting more.

    We are investigating bringing our high school students to work with elementary and middle school students, offering more individual support for new musicians, organizing after school acitivities and tutoring in other subjects.

    We have middle school teachers who offer organized running and games a couple of days/week after school for kids who want to do it.

    If Districts can somehow keep and support teachers who have this kind of commitment, I believe the school communities can work with school administrators to find other ways to offer supplemental programs, as both previous bloggers pointed out.

  7. Jeannie says:

    A few years ago I had a conversation with an experienced, retired inner city public school principal and former school superintendent. I asked him if he had $5 million dollars to use to improve the educational experience for students, what would he do the the funds. His reply was no matter what the needs, the $5 million would be best spent on an arts center or program (music, fine arts, etc.) for all students, as art has the ability to unify and touch people in ways they will have for their lives.

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