1,836 Teachers Expected to be Laid off in Orange County School Districts

While school districts shuffle the numbers and figure out their final counts, it stands that 1,836 teachers will receive pink slips in Orange County School Districts. The OC Register has the numbers by the districts…

Anaheim Elementary: 75 temporary teachers
Anaheim Union High: 99
Brea Olinda Unified: 25 full-time, temporary and probationary teachers
Buena Park: 20
Capistrano Unified: 270 teachers
Centralia Elementary: 20 teachers, 40 to 50 non-classroom staff
Cypress: 20
Fullerton Elementary: 65 temporary teachers
Irvine Unified: 251 temporary and part-time teachers
Orange Unified: 200
Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified: Up to 125 non-classroom staff
Saddleback Unified: 168 teachers, 25 other staff and administrators
Santa Ana Unified: 570
Tustin Unified: 38.4
Savanna: Up to 15

There has been a huge focus on the impact the budget shortfall has on the Education budget, but the questions should be, what else is this going to effect in Orange County? I have to admit, my knowledge of local politics is sorely lacking and I have vowed to learn about the issues. On to my rant…

Public education is the budget battlefield not only because it’s the state’s largest single public program and consumes about 35 percent of the general fund, but because the state’s 6 million public-school students are a microcosm of its social and economic trends, their schools are beset by poor high-school graduation rates and academic test scores, and the state is near the bottom among states in per-pupil spending.

All of those factors generate ceaseless circular debate in academic, political and civic circles over whether schools need more money and, if so, how that money should be raised and spent. Early last year, a 1,700-page series of studies overseen by Stanford University concluded that while the schools need billions of dollars more, just spending more money without, as one study leader put it, “systemic and fundamental reform,” would be useless.

At the time, Schwarzenegger and other Capitol figures proclaimed that 2008 would be the “year of education” in which long-range policy and financial decisions would be made, but as the state’s fiscal situation deteriorated, the battle shifted to whether school money should be reduced to close the deficit.

“This has been the year of education evisceration,” Jack O’Connell, the state superintendent of schools, said as local superintendents rallied Monday before heading into the Capitol for one-on-one lobbying. Their targets were mostly Republicans who have joined Schwarzenegger in resisting new taxes to balance the budget — even as the governor edges away from that position by saying he wants to close tax loopholes to give schools more money.

“We don’t have a spending problem,” O’Connell — a potential candidate for governor in 2010 — told the superintendents, intentionally parodying the Republicans’ refrain. “The problem is with our priorities.” He called Schwarzenegger’s proposed school cuts an “abdication of a responsibility to set the values and set the priorities” and added, “This budget must be stopped.”

The Oakland Tribune

So, it seems like the same problems we’ve encountered before. More money for schools may not mean a better education for our children and the battle about whether this is a “spending” problem or a “taxation” problem. I do agree however that it is a “priorities” problem.

Education directly effects California’s ability to thrive and provide an educated workforce for the businesses we want to keep in Orange County and other Counties around the State. If we don’t have that educated workforce, no amount of tax breaks will help.

Many are blaming educations shortcomings (and the budget deficit) on immigration but no one seems to be willing to admit the biggest shortcoming that has allowed the issue to get so out of hand.

Focusing on the education budget for a moment, the governor proposes slashing $4 billion and the Legislative Analyst proposes a reduction of $800 million from the coming budget. These budgetary reductions would impair facility expansion and student-to-teacher ratio, reduce bus transportation and be detrimental to student development.

A Plan B alternative to the governor and Legislative Analyst school budget proposals is in order. A major cost factor in the conduct of school operations relates to the vast number of children of illegal immigrants in our classroom and the special-training dictates for many of those students being taught in their native language — some 82 languages in San Diego County, 112 languages in Los Angeles County.

The state must insist that the federal government deport the illegal immigrants and their noncitizen student children — as required by federal immigration laws. That would significantly reduce the need for facility expansion, the teacher-to-student ratio would improve and the cost for teaching in foreign languages would be virtually eliminated. More important, the education of American citizens would be enhanced.

So, do you really want our schools to become a battle ground for immigration? The question should be, why are we not enforcing the laws we have to prohibit the hiring of illegal immigrants? The blind eye that we turn to allow Southern California companies the use of “cheap” yet illegal labor costs us much more than the supposed return. Rarely does the savings that the Corporations or small businesses receive from employing such cheap labor come back to our communities and in fact, it costs each California household $1,183 extra per year because of the services that are given to illegal immigrants (And these are 2004 numbers).

All I hear from Republicans is that we should crack down on immigration and build a wall. But as long as there are jobs available, jobs that pay more than those in Mexico do and offer more opportunity to the children of those who cross the border, there will always been an incentive to keep coming across our borders, no matter how high the wall is. We all fail to see that immigrants come to this Country for something that we all want for our children, opportunity.

If the jobs stop being available then there might actually be a down turn in immigration. What if we took the money we are spending to build a wall and instead used it to invest in helping Mexico build an infrastructure and lift itself out of third world status. By doing this, we would be solving many problems at once. But this wouldn’t benefit the companies that have shipped good jobs for Americans across the boarder and bringing Mexico out of poverty would only hurt our continuing need for cheaper and cheaper workers.

It’s complicated and I don’t know as much as I should about the issue, but it really has to come down to our priorities as a State. The cycle we’ve created by enabling cheap labor to drive our economic engine lowers the need for an educated labor force and crowds our budget with costs for people who shouldn’t be here (And, I do believe that it is our moral obligation to care for the people who are here, regardless of why. These are our neighbors, these are the people who do work for us that we would rather not do, these are the people we do rely upon on a daily basis but want to pretend that they are not here unless it affects our livestyles and our choices directly).

So, why are we not enforcing these laws that we already have and why is ths not part of the discussion?