School Beat: 2009-2010 School Year in Reviewby Lisa Schiff, 2010-06-03
Note: Starting next week School Beat will be on summer vacation until school starts again in mid-August.
The 2009-2010 school year is finally at an end. This has felt like a long one, mostly due, as it usually is, to the external pressures and challenges facing our schools. In the midst of the worst financial crisis in years and a political climate that is almost equally as turbulent, students, educators, families and other public education supporters have struggled with some success to keep our schools going and to push them higher on the list of priorities of things to be maintained, if not strengthened. With leaders like Governor Schwarzenegger, who continues his efforts to strip public schools of resources, and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who enthusiastically promotes standardized testing and competitive grant-based learning models, California’s K-12 system has been hit hard from all sides.
The recession and related budget crisis have been felt strongly throughout this year. After tense negotiations, our district ended up having only four furlough days for teachers and just under two hundred pink slips ultimately issued. Hopefully this will be reduced even more if the emergency funding for education jobs finally comes through Congress. Even with that, it’s a clear measure of just how bad things are that the loss of that many teachers and the reduction of even a few educational days can feel like an aversion of disaster.
Discussion of where to cut took up much of the year and can be tracked through various documents and timelines on the San Francisco Unified School District’s (SFUSD) budget page. The deficit action plan laid out a set of proposed cuts that were presented and discussed atcommunity meetings and were ultimately accepted by the Board of Education (BOE) as options Superintendent Carlos Garcia could put into place as needed.
Two positive outcomes around the budget also occurred this year. The first was a fantastic Town Hall meeting organized by some SFUSD parents in an effort to galvanize action around the perpetual underfunding of California’s schools in both boom and bust times. The Funding our Future event, attending by elected officials, and hundreds of parents and public school supporters is now evolving into a new effort, called Educate Our State, the specific goals of which will hopefully be unfolding soon, revealing tasks we can all join in on.
Read the entire post at Beyond the Chron