California shortchanges the future of its students
"Beware the ides of March." Thus the Soothsayer warned Julius Caesar of the 15th of March, a day that ended with Caesar's death. Perhaps it is fitting that California chose this iconic day to murder education just as Brutus murdered Caesar.
For years, March 15 has been a day of distress for teachers statewide, many of whom will receive the dreaded "pink slip." This small, pretty piece of pale pink paper leaves teachers unemployed and scrambling for any position that the recession may be kind enough to grant them.
Last year, a total of 22,000 hard-working, college-graduated, California-certified teachers were given pink slips. Teachers, with their lofty aspirations and dedication to help mold a conscientious and well-educated society, were kicked to the curb due to budget cuts.
With each new budget proposal, approximately 85 percent of trigger cuts fall on education. Why is it that we sit placidly and allow this to happen?
By the time your child graduates from high school, he or she will have spent, on average, 2,200 days sitting in a classroom. We are taught that education is the cornerstone of spiritual and practical freedom; we are taught that it will guarantee success; we are taught that it is imperative to building a nation. And yet, ironically, the emphasis placed upon education does not match the financial support given to it.
Cuts must be made. The U.S. government, and particularly the California government, have made that clear. When comparing the amount of dollars spent per student to the other 50 states, California is ranked embarrassingly at 47th.
Michelle Yang, an eighth-grader at Marysville Charter Academy for the Arts, said, "Most of California's cities are rated as some of the worst in the nation, unemployment-wise, and I think that's partly due to a lack in educational opportunities."
Budget cuts are being felt from K-12 and even at state-funded colleges, which are being forced to raise their tuition. Many of my peers have been forced to re-evaluate their college decisions due to the rising costs.
Makayla Synak, a senior, was recently accepted to her top-choice college but is apprehensive of being unable to pay. "Budget cuts are always happening, just like the rising cost in college tuition," Makayla sighed. "It's terrible that California puts so little money in education."
The cutbacks in public education are dramatic and apparent, from the increasing class sizes to the losses in the arts. As more and more teachers await the inevitable pink slip, it's not surprising that their motivation dwindles and their ability to teach slumps. Would you want to work in an environment where you are overworked, underpaid, underappreciated?
Students feel the cuts, too. Senior Kalia Klein said, "When the students' favorite teacher is fired, it breeds the idea that the administration and the district don't care about the students or their education."
Parents, students and teachers demand to see a shift in priorities. California can't continue to settle for having the second-highest unemployment rate in the country (11.1 percent). It can't continue to shortchange our future; it can't put education on the back burner.
Education should be seen as an investment in the nation's future. It is crucial to economic recovery, as well as creating a sustainable, educated and analytical society.
Natalie Landau is a senior at Marysville Charter Academy for the Arts. Her column appears every six weeks in Education.