Coastal voices: Cuts in school funding are an assault on our kids' education

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By Bob Berkowitz

andquot;Dear Mr. Berkowitz, I just learned that my favorite teacher is not coming back next year. I want you to know that she is the best teacher I ever had. I hated school before I got in her class, but she showed me that learning could be fun. She really cares about me. Please, please, please don't fire this teacher.andquot;

I never want to get one of these letters again, yet if the governor and state legislators get their way, I'll be getting a lot of these letters in just the next few months.

In order to cover their mismanagement of the budget, the legislature and governor want to take their mistakes out on our children. The governor has proposed making REAL cuts in the education budget that will affect every child in our public schools. These could result in our schools having to lay off some of the best and brightest teachers, closing more schools, and increasing the number of students in classes to unbelievable levels.

I urge you to help us protect our schools from this assault on our kids' education. The governor and legislature need to know you will not allow the next generation of adults to be denied an education that allows them to be competitive with the rest of the world. The governor and legislature need to know that we must retain the best and brightest teachers. The governor and legislature need to know that stealing dollars from public education robs our children of their future.

Unfortunately, the governor and legislature have not heard from you. They think that they can play andquot;slight of handandquot; with our children's education dollars and you won't notice. By the time you notice that education dollars have been stolen and good teachers have been fired, they can pass the blame on to the school board, or the superintendent, or the principal.

If we are going to save our public school system from being systematically dismantled by the governor and legislature, they need to hear from you.

Please e-mail the governor at gov.ca.gov and California Assemblywoman Patty Berg at democrats.assembly.ca.gov/members/a01/ and State Sen. Sam Aanestad at republican.sen.ca.gov/web/4.

Let them know that you did not put them in office to kill the public education system. Lip service and just saying that they support public education doesn't count. They need to know that you will hold them accountable for providing adequate funding for education.

If you and I fail to convince the governor and legislature to provide adequate funding for our schools and I get more letters like the one above, I'll be asking the parents of the child who sends the letter what they did to help me help their child. If you have children in school you need to act now, today, before it's too late.

Bob Berkowitz is a school board member of the Del Norte County/Unified School District and regional director of the California School Boards Association.

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