The Season of Pink Slips and School Budgets

Post by SEN

Spring approaches. Here in California, the cherry trees in the valley of orchards have already blossomed and died back, ready to set the fruit. My fourth grade class is moving onto the Spring curricular areas: rocks and minerals, local California Indian tribes, and study of the personal narrative composition.

The personal narrative, memoir of a specific event, is enjoyed by most of my students, as much as the difficult task of composing can be. Why not? Even at nine years old, they have plenty of memories of ‘the first time’, a fearful moment, and happy events. During the daily ‘teacher reads a good book out loud after lunch’, I’m reading passages from Fireflies, a great book to introduce the style of a good narrative.

As for me, my latest personal narrative doesn’t yet have an ending. On Monday we had a Cupertino Education Association union meeting. Of course, we wore red to stand by fellow union members in the infamous Wisconsin. Members signed up for a night of phone banking to get local voters to pass the extension of the local expiring parcel tax. It is one of the few ways to keep the schools from falling victim to the state’s school budget cutbacks necessary to balance the state budget.

Remember passage of parcel taxes still depends on 2/3 of the voters saying yes, and I shouldn’t say the district won’t fall victim even if the parcel tax extension passes. One hundred seventeen (117) district staff and teachers have received March 15 letters, notifying them that they are on the list of layoffs at the end of the school year.

The CEA lawyer has said to be sure to request a hearing about your position on the list, i.e., seniority. Some personnel are set aside on a separate layoff list, e.g., speech therapists and those with a single subject math credential. Layoffs depend on the service category each teacher belongs to. There may be an error.

All decisions depend on the passage of a state budget. The legislature still has not agreed on spending cuts, much less a special election in June to extend several taxes before they sunset.  Unlike some other states, notably Wisconsin, it is agreed by all that both spending cuts and tax extensions are in the mix.  How much is debated daily.

In Tuesday’s San Francisco Chronicle, March 15, 2011, the battle seems to focus on the five GOP state senators who have sat in on the governor’s ongoing talks to forge a budget deal. The five senators are pushing for spending cuts– regulation reforms, a cap on state spending, and changes to public employee pensions. They can’t get past blaming public employee unions for all problems, and that means me.

So, you see, my personal narrative about ‘times of anxiety’ has repeated every year for the past four years. I listen to arguments on the car radio that are far away from helping me help students learn; spend time on the phone urging for parcel taxes to save the district’s budget because the state’s legislators can’t resolve a budget deal; and at the same time keep on track in the classroom, making sure the curriculum is covered and standards are met. I received a pink slip.

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2 Responses to “The Season of Pink Slips and School Budgets”

  1. Robert says:

    Please vote NO on Cupertino Measure C

    We all have to tighten our belts. Why should the schools be any different?

  2. CJN says:

    Sometimes a stoical stance is necessary. Or you may be lucky to have one hole in your belt left to tighten. Almost all schools in California have already poked new holes in their belts. Some need to look to the public who consistently respond to surveys with willingness to support their local schools which Cupertino’s Measure C requests.