(Tim Boyle/Getty)

A study of California’s 30 largest school districts finds the recession has taken a hard hit on public education. Teacher layoffs, fewer counselors, increased demand for free and reduced-price meals has stressed California’s schools according to the report by an education non-profit. Forum discusses the findings and how schools can compensate.

Guests:
Louis Freedberg, executive director of EdSource, an independent non-profit research and reporting organization
Bruce Fuller, professor of education and public policy at U.C. Berkeley
Ann Hughes, 4th grade teacher at Hillcrest Elementary School in San Francisco.
Jonathan Raymond, superintendent of Sacramento Unified School District

  • PrintDrachmas

    The straw that broke the camel’s back was and is the real estate bubble in California. If home prices had been lower, workers such as teachers and counselors would have been cheaper. Everyone is dealing with the repercussions of speculators taking over the political system and the Federal Reserve (meaning Alan Greenspan), to the detriment of people who work and save.

    • Much like the our recent foreclosure crisis had individuals who did not consider the impact of their actions on others as much as they should have & also lacked transparency, the Board of Directors for Civicorps Elementary are voting Tonight whether or not to close the school after having given those enrolled notice of the vote only last Thursday & no earlier indication this was a possibility (in fact, they even canceled earlier community meetings) Please learn more &/or sign our online petition at

      http://tinyurl.com/SaveCivicorps

  • If you are concerned about the state of public schools in California, please go to: http://www.educateourstate.org 
    We can no longer fundraise our way out of this crisis.  

  • Kenoli Oleari

    There is a ballot initiative in West Contra Costa to raise money for school but it only focuses on “core curriculum,” reading and science.  No money for music, art, counseling and other core needs for students.  We would never pay for a bridge that didn’t meet basic safety standards; why aren’t we treating out children as well?  What is the story here?  I get the sense that many legislators, especial Republican legislators don’t think a good education is important.  

    During the dictatorship, Portugal took on a policy against educating their population.  Today Portugal continues to suffer because it doesn’t have an educated population able to support meaningful economic development.  Ireland went through some similar economic challenges as Portugal but was able to pull itself out because it had an educated population.

    –Kenoli Oleari, El Sobrante

    • Good points! Civicorps Elementary agrees art, music & counseling are important also & have ensured they’re a part of the school; however, the Board of Directors has shirked it’s responsibility to the school by announcing last Thursday that they would vote Tonight whether or not to close the school (with no other notice, even previously canceling community meetings so we were taken completely by surprise when it’s too late to apply anywhere else!) Please learn more &/or sign our petition at

      http://tinyurl.com/SaveCivicorps

  • Guest

    I would like to hear actual numbers as far as where the revenues come from, how it is spent and how the proposed tax increases will be spent. 

    • Reina G.

      I would too. Once again this feels like ballot budgeting and once again we must fund education, which I don’t mind doing, but where’s the money we have already approved?

  • Roy-in-Boise

    Schools all over America are in a fiscal crisis. Certainly many states do undervalue education. Equally important it should be noted is that for the majority of students the education they receive in K-12 is all that they ever formally receive in many areas including citizenship skills. This leads us to ask the next question: Where do low information voters come from?

  • Blairtaffuri

    I am about to begin a teacher credential program. Ill be receiving my credential in around two years from now. Do you foresee this crisis changing within.that time or becoming worse?

  • Dayna

    As we head into the Presidential election, I am shocked that issues like education are not more at the forefront.  California is suffering from the untenable cuts, year after year – but so is the rest of the nation.  As a parent of 3 kids who attend public schools in the south bay, I don’t understand why more Americans aren’t standing up to say enough is enough.  Why are we more concerned about budget deficits than we are deficits in education our population?  For sure, we should ‘live within our means’, etc., but we are going to pay BIG TIME for generations to come, if we short-change this current generation of a decent education.  Our economy, our standing in the world, crime, you name it – so much of a society builds upon solid public schools.  

    Sadly, there will be a few lucky areas that will find enough parents or local businesses to help mitigate some of these cuts thru fundraising.  BUT, it’s never going to be sufficient AND the poorest communities will continue to suffer even more.  

    I agree with a caller who asked the question why some of our most profitable companies aren’t doing more to support education.  These very corporations will need well-educated workers in the years to come, and that starts by investing now.  

    This is a time for us to prioritize education….whether you’re a company that could afford to donate more or a parent who’s sending your kid to public school (who could honestly afford to donate more to your school during fundraising drives) or a retired person who has gotten your kids raised and would rather not pay taxes that go towards education.  This is a time for all of us to realize that education is not a privilege – it’s a right and our entire nation will suffer if we don’t make that distinction.  This is also a time for we as Californians, especially in the Silicon Valley area, to lead the nation in finding creative solutions that help us achieve a ‘bigger bang’ for our limited bucks, leveraging technology and other intelligent solutions.  

  • Deepak

    What does your guests think of too much after school tutoring kids are going through. This is how it is in Asia and unfortunately we are following that way here in the US now. Kids are “spoon fed” by private tutors after school, and this takes away critical thinking ability of kids. 

  • Lee Thé

    California taxpayers–Democrat and Republican alike–remain resistant to the constant begging for more money by the school system. The implication from your guests is that we’re selfish and short-sighted.

    Two possible causes have not been discussed in this program. (1) American citizens of both parties don’t like seeing their tax dollars diverted into supporting the families of citizens of other countries who are here illegally–regardless of whether the children are citizens or not. Such people currently represent more than one out of three California students. (2) Our school districts are grotesquely top-heavy with non-teaching staff. Finland achieves far higher test results with a sixth the non-teaching staff–and pays teachers more. Students enjoy being in school more as well.
     

  • Juliemell

    One suggestion for getting parents’ fundraising dollars to the programs they want the money to address: create a foundation to control the money, and have the schools write grants for the funds. A great example of this is the WISE foundation in Petaluma. Check it out. It’s a great way to keep art, music and computers in the schools.

  • Catherine Lee

    Get involved in education solution!  Concerned citizens needed to participate:

    Free event registration at EventBrite.

    Keep Community in Community Colleges

    Saturday, May 12, 2012 from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM- San Francisco, CA (City College Mission Campus)

    Event Details:

    City College of San Francisco invites students, educators and workers from across California’s 112 community colleges to a statewide conference/coalition-building event. Together, we will address the Student Success Act’s dismantling of CCCs, the destructive waves of budget cuts and tuition increases, and what we can do – as the world’s largest higher education body – to fight back.

    The conference will include:

    – An overview of the Student Success Act and its connection to privatization.

    – Discussion on the formation of a student union.

    – Action planning to determine how we can work together to keep the community in community colleges!

    To anyone interested in preserving the accessibility of California Community Colleges, please join us!

    Called for by the AS Council of CCSF Ocean Campus.

  • What I hoped to share on-air:

    I’m a mom of three kids in
    the SFUSD, and am a long time public schools volunteer and advocate, at my
    school, with the pta, and as a board member of Parents for Public Schools – San
    Francisco. I am also a co-founder of Educate Our State, a parent-led, statewide
    campaign to unite the voices of Californians in support of high-quality K-12
    public education.  This crisis is not
    news to me, or to most parents, as we have seen cuts for years and years that are
    impossible to combat.  A few years ago
    some moms in San Francisco hosted a townhall to shine a light on the cuts we
    were seeing in the SFUSD, and Michael Krasny was our moderator.  That night 1000+ people were there to see every politician representing san
    Francisco at the state and local level pointed the finger at someone else, and
    we realized that parents had to stand up and raise our voices in support of
    public schools.  Until all Californians
    realize that Public Schools are the backbone of a successful workforce, secure fiscal
    climate for the state, and indeed the future of our society, we will not be
    able to solve this crisis.  3 years later
    we have 40,000 supporters from all over the state. 

    At educate our state we believe in: Superior Educators, Logical,
    Sufficient and Stable Education Funding and Engaging and Stimulating Instruction and Curriculum.

    Please go to http://www.educateourstate.org
    for more information and to join us in this fight.

    • Thank you for sharing your comments & resource despite not getting on air! Civicorps Elementary was also unable to fit into the allotted time & is trying to get word out that our Board of Directors only told us last Thursday they are going to vote Tonight whether or not to shut the school down! Please learn more &/or sign our petition at

      http://tinyurl.com/SaveCivicorps

  • John

    We hire union workers at $45k per year and expect greatness. Why would the best work for so little and under union structure? They don’t! We attract what we set the bate for; modest achievers seeking income security and summers off. Double the salaries and watch everything change.

  • Susy

    I am a parent in Oakland. And, as you said, we have fulfilled our social contract. Yet, this district, as many others, use much of the money sent from Sacramento to pay it’s over-bloated staff and in particular outside consultants, instead of sending much of the the limited funds to the schools and classrooms.Further the economical divide is fostering division in the parenting community who are just trying to find the best education they can afford, and sending them to corporate schooling whether it is charters or home-schooling.SH

  • Susy

    I am a parent in Oakland. And, as you said, we have fulfilled our social contract. Yet, this district, as many others, use much of the money sent from Sacramento to pay it’s over-bloated staff and in particular outside consultants, instead of sending much of the the limited funds to the schools and classrooms.Further the economical divide is fostering division in the parenting community who are just trying to find the best education they can afford, and sending them to corporate schooling whether it is charters or home-schooling.SH

  • Shovland

    I am a parent in Oakland. And, as you said, we have fulfilled our social contract. Yet, this district, as many others, use much of the money sent from Sacramento to pay it’s over-bloated staff and in particular outside consultants, instead of sending much of the the limited funds to the schools and classrooms.Further the economical divide is fostering division in the parenting community who are just trying to find the best education they can afford, and sending them to corporate schooling whether it is charters or home-schooling.SH

  • BZ

    When my daughter started school in San Jose, I sent her to a private
    school for one year. When my mother convinced me to put her in public school,
    they tested her & wanted her to skip 2 grades. That’s the difference in
    what they learn!  Today I’d put her in a
    charter school where they can fire an ineffective teacher for less than $250,000.
    That’s what it takes to fire a bad union teacher. Rent the movie The Lottery.

    • BC

      And yet, strong union states outperform weak/non union states.  And yet, traditional public schools on the whole outperform charter schools.  So, because your daughter is smart and you saw a movie, we should change over to a worse system.  Right?

      • BZ

        No, fool.  We should be able to fire a bad teacher. And when schools are forced to lay off teachers, they should be able to fire the worthless teacher rather than firing the newest teacher.

  • Paul Vetter

    A group of Oakland parents, teachers, and students are bicycling from Oakland to Sacramento this Saturday (May 12) to raise awareness and protest continued cuts to K-12 education spending by California.  Depending on how you look at it, California is something like 45th in the nation in spending per public school student, and we spend 25% less than the national average.  It’s been year after year of cuts and deferred spending to try to balance budgets, but K-12 education never gets the deferred spending restored.  We’re becoming a national embarrassment.  Please check out:
    http://rideforareason.dojiggy.com

  • Michael Y. Simon

    Great report, Michael.  It isn’t easy though to find a link to the study, though.  Can you post this?

  • guest

    Bruce Fuller is not a professor of Public Policy. He is appointed only in the School of Education, and his continued use of the title is misleading.

    • Thank you for helping ensure transparency & accountability, which seem to be two key elements to some of the problems our education system is facing in general. Civicorps Elementary School is greatly suffering from a lack of these, as epitomized by the Board of Directors announcement last Thursday they will vote tonight whether or not to close the school! Please learn more &/or sign our petition at

      http://tinyurl.com/SaveCivicorps

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