Is it too late for US education? When will government work for the common good?

February 24, 2010

in General Interest

I received an email today from John Stockton Superintendent Acalanes UHSD titled “Eliminating the Competitive Edge”. It’s about more budget cuts in our schools. It’s also reflective of the broad failure of US society to provide effectively for its citizens. It demonstrates a failure of the “government” we collectively elected to develop more prosperous and better futures. Add in health care, and more and I can just count myself as extremely lucky for where I live.

“We educate every student to excel and contribute in a global society.” The Acalanes Union High School mission statement could soon become a dream, instead of a viable mission. With the announced reduction of $254 per student for the 2010-2011 school year and further cuts likely to come, AUHSD students will lose their competitive edge when applying for college, university and technical schools.

The district will receive less funding next year by the state than it did five years ago. During the same period, expenses and state mandates have increased. Class sizes have increased and will continue to do so. Elective programs have been cut. On February 3, 56.9 full-time teaching positions were selected for release at the end of this school year. The Acalanes Union High School District must reduce its 2010-2011 budget by $4.8 million.

Consequently, AUHSD will no longer be offering students a seven-period school day. There will not be state and local funding available to support these class sections. Additionally, six-period day course options must be reduced.

While some people may see this as a return to a basic education structure of several decades past, many view this as the decimation of one of the most respected high school districts in the nation. Although it is natural for most of us to have cherished memories of our high school years, it is clear that a 20th Century education does not meet today’s needs. The mastery of complex academic standards with fewer and fewer resources is simply not possible.

At the request of parent and community leaders, the Governing Board of the Acalanes Union District approved a resolution to submit the Emergency Education Act of 2010 (Measure A) for community consideration. Measure A has a life span of five years at $112 per parcel. This May 4 vote will determine whether the district will need to finalize its program cuts by the mandated May 15 deadline and be forced to provide AUHSD students with a less-competitive high school education.

Both my kids attend or attended Campolindo High School one of the best High Schools in California. I always vote for any bond issue that improves schools and education. However, that only benefits where I live, it doesn’t help to engender better learning skills for all. There’s much wrong with public education, yet making environments less creative, limiting depth of learning, at a time in a childs life when they can gain the most makes little sense to me. I’d predict this measure will pass in our area. It’s simple maths… Add $112 to my property tax and it keeps house values up in the local area. The same approaches in other areas won’t pass and where schools are already terrible even less likely to pass. That creates an even more unbalanced society.

Solving problems like this on the local level is not the long-term answer. Sacramento and Washington – BIG FAIL.

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