Funding for education has been decimated by the current state leadership. At a time when lawmakers mouth the importance of improved test scores and quality education, they are firing young teachers and increasing class sizes!
Locally, school district leaders are choosing to "balance the budget" on the backs of students, teachers, and support staff by laying off school site employees. In our county, 10 percent of the Del Norte Unified School District teaching positions have been eliminated in the past three years. At the same time, administrative costs have increased with only a few reductions in days and no reductions in administrative positions.
The district will contend that many of the decreases in teaching
positions are due to reduced enrollment, yet teacher cuts go far beyond
the loss of revenue caused by changes in enrollment. Furthermore, if
declining enrollment has caused teacher layoffs, why haven't we seen a
reduction in administration? Shouldn't enrollment numbers be used to
determine administrative staffing also?
We can think statewide, but we must act locally. It is time for our
local educational leaders to demonstrate true leadership by cutting
administrative costs and eliminating medical benefits for school board
Teacher layoffs mean larger classes. This should be evident in the
increases already seen. Imagine teaching a class of 35 or more
sixth-graders! What really happens? It's simple. More time is spent
disciplining students, administering tests, planning and grading; less
time is devoted to individual instruction, enrichment activities, or
important interpersonal interactions.
The future will be measured by today. It is time our School Board
members, school superintendent, deputy superintendent, assistant
superintendent, director of human resources, director of special
education, principals and assistant principals make sacrifices
equivalent to those already made by front-line workers.
It is time to use our $3.1 million dollar reserve (approximately 7.5
percent above the state's requirement) to stop laying off teachers!
Along with parents and family, it is time to demonstrate that teachers
are the most important people in students' lives.
Mike Mealue of Crescent City is president of the Del Norte Teachers