For a long time we’ve been hearing that the Los Angeles Unified School District is in dire straits, facing a $400 million plus budget deficit and forced to lay off as many as 5000 teachers for the next school year. Okay, with the current budget woes in Sacramento that’s understandable, nearly every school district in California is in financial trouble with no end in sight. Seems our lawmakers are content to watch our k-12 educational system continue to crash and burn.
As of 2009 our educational system ranked 49th in the nation among states where the adult population has at least a high school education and 46th in the area of per student spending. Believe it or not we actually made some gains in this area last year and moved up to 43rd. In 2006 we were 35th and in 2001 we were 27th. Pretty dismal when you consider that in 1969 we ranked number 2 in the nation! Since then we’ve been in a forty year free fall, indicative of the states deteriorating educational status in recent decades.
A study done by the Rand corporation in 2005 stated that “there have been signs in the last few decades that the system has slipped badly relative to its own past performance and that of other states’ school systems.”California’s schools compare favorably to those in other states in some respects. But overall, the comparisons are unfavorable to California. And in many instances, the results support the impression that California’s relative standing in the nation has declined oner the last three decades and continues to decline.” The eduction system of the pre-seventies that all Californians were so proud of no longer exists.
Okay so back to LAUSD. So just a few weeks ago LAUSD is in real trouble right. Then two weeks ago a new superintendent takes over and announces that he will do everything in his power to resurrect the ailing district and went on to set some lofty performance goals. All well and good, but then this week the new super, John Deasy, announced that he is adding 9 new administrative positions to his management team that he says will be essential to reaching his performance goals, goals that include doubling the percent of students who can read at grade level by third grade and improving the high school graduation rate from 54 to 70% over the next three years. Good Luck!
Each of the new administrative positions announced come with a six figure salary! So in a district already strapped for cash, Deasy is adding what could amount to nearly two million dollars to the payroll! Five of the positions have already been approved by the school board and payroll for those jobs is nearly a million dollars! Deasy calls this a cost cutting move, you heard me right, cost cutting move that he claims will actually save the district $25,000 because the move also involves eliminating some jobs and reassignment of some employees. Where have I heard this before?
On the bright side, LAUSD is in the hole for over $400 million and in just two weeks on the job the new super has come up with an ingenious plan to save $25000. Incredible! So let’s see $25000 every two weeks times 26… Wow, at that rate he can save the district a whopping $600,000. a year! Like that’s really going to solve LAUSD’s $400 million budget crisis! Teachers and union leaders are concerned and they should be. This is criminal.
I’m sorry, but this is certainly not the time for any district to be adding administrative positions. Deasy claims the nine positions will not impact the budget as two of the new jobs are being funded through grants from a non profit organization and the others will be paid using grants available from the state for intervention and after school enrichment programs. Somehow I don’t think hiring more talking heads is what those grants were intended for. I don’t care what Deasy chooses to calls it, or how he tries to disguise it, as far as I’m concerned he is misusing funds intended for students.
Students would be better served if the money from private sources and state grants went directly onto campuses or into classrooms. If Deasy can manipulate these grants to hire administrators why can’t he use the funds to retain some teachers instead. Oh,that’s right, I forgot, the more chiefs, the better the teaching nation. Makes me wonder what all the chiefs will do when classrooms reach overload and there are not enough Indians or Indian aides left to teach all the kids. Will the chiefs be in the classroom teaching then? I think not. Actually we all know that will never happen. Besides there are many administrators that have never taught. Teachers teach. Use the state grant money as it was intended to be used, for the students after school intervention and enrichment programs.
A tough road lies ahead for the California K-12 education system. Some hard decisions need to be made. What it all comes down to is we can do things the Deasy way which does not directly benefit students or teachers and makes absolutely no sense or we can do things the right way. I think the correct choice is obvious, dont you?