I'm baaaaaaack.

Hoarding All the Glitter Since 2001.

07 May 2011

Doomsday May Revise

...and a whole week of fun times before it!

Having taught in financial climates adequate (2001 with a lot of II/USP money), bad (2002-3), worse (2004-5) and gruesome, yet predictably more gruesome each year (2005 - on), I am surprised that this year's May Revise may actually present a budget so bad that some school districts will get over the whole "find a way through" nonsense.

Actually, I am kind of hopeful that they will: that some districts will have the courage to say no, to refuse to present the state with a budget, to call for system-wide strikes and basically demand that California fund its responsibilities.  Let's face it: the state is used to grumbling and lawsuits followed by massive cuts and somehow limping through.

We need to draw the line.  It is not okay that some districts are back to 31:1 AM/PM Kindergarten with one teacher, no aides and no supplies.  It is not okay that basic aid districts will still manage to keep their "essentials" - art and music and labs and computers - while I eagerly await the day that the solution to the plumbing problem in the boys' room near my classroom is not "keep the door open all the time".

It is not okay that I can look forward to an ever-increasing class of kids who have not had adequate nutrition, medical care or preschool.  It is not okay that that half of those kids will have experienced major trauma, five will be homeless and four will have diagnosed learning differences.  It is not okay that I will be expected to ameliorate all of the above while buying all materials beyond pencils and integrating technology using two computers that are 15 years old and cannot load the local newspaper, let alone Google Maps.

I do not anticipate that SFUSD will be one of these districts, given that Beyond the Talk is a lot of talk about systems and MAPs and Redesigns and Overcoming the Historic Power of Demographics.  The District can't even get itself behind the symbolic action of, say, having its top brass take some solidarity pay cuts.  So I don't think we can expect any actual challenging of institutional racism.  I'm sure there will be some good rhetoric around how California won't fund SFUSD, leaving it with no choice but to sacrifice its neediest.

Unfortunately, the buck doesn't stop with California.  We need to have the moral courage to take responsibility for the actions we take - or that we fail to take.  What SFUSD chooses to do is not constrained by the choices it claims to have.  If this is a state of emergency, then the conditions demand extraordinary action.

Hard-working teachers putting that extraordinary effort in every day can look forward to a meaningless Day of the Teacher resolution and a rather more concrete pink slip.

That says a lot about how Beyond the Talk we're really willing to go.

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