Wednesday, September 28, 2016

California Comeback: For Teachers, Invisible Scars and Wary Hopes - LA Progressive

California Comeback: For Teachers, Invisible Scars and Wary Hopes - LA Progressive:

California Comeback: For Teachers, Invisible Scars and Wary Hopes


California Teaching Careers
Long Beach teacher Sherri Gonser
“Ihad known it was coming,” remembers Alan Underwood.
In the spring of 2008, Underwood was an eager and popular young assistant band director at a high school in Moreno Valley, a suburban enclave in Riverside County, but the first clouds of what would soon be called the Great Recession were gathering in far off New York — and were clearly visible to Underwood. The music teacher, only four years out of college, decided to check in at the Val Verde Unified School District offices for reassurance.
 “They’re like, ‘Hey, you have a job for as long as you want in the district,’’’ he says in a phone call.
By October, however, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had plunged 18 percent in a single week, and California’s nearly 300,000 public school teachers found themselves in the full fury of a financial storm that saw the state teetering on the precipice of a record $28.1 billion deficit. It would get far worse.
“It started to become a little bit clearer that things weren’t great,” Underwood dryly recalls. “I wore a pink shirt the day they were handing out the first round of pink slips. This was just the reality: They were going to have to cut somewhere, and they weren’t going to cut English and math teachers.”
Underwood was right. He, along with every music teacher in Val Verde Unified except for one was pink-slipped — three high school teachers, six middle school and 13 elementary school teachers. The entire elementary school music program was eliminated and middle school music electives were cut back to one.

Throw a dart at a California Department of Education map and it will be impossible to hit a school and not hear similar stories. Until 2008 most California teachers believed teaching was recession-proof when they chose to enter the profession.

Throw a dart at a California Department of Education map and it will be impossible to hit a school and not hear similar stories. Until 2008 most California teachers believed teaching was recession-proof when they chose to enter the profession.
But by 2012, the state’s general fund revenues had plummeted by more than $40 billion. That resulted in a debilitating 14 percent cut at the district level and, according to the Census Bureau’s Survey of Public Employment, 70,787 (or 7.9 percent) fewer people working in the state’s K-12 schools in 2011 than in 2006, including 38,703 fewer teachers.
And by the end of the 2011-12 school year, 2.6 million California children were attending schools in a record 188 districts that were on the point of collapse. Another $6 billion education shortfall in the 2012-13 budget loomed.
In November of 2012, however, California voters came to the rescue with Proposition 30, the temporary tax measure that dramatically pulled state public schools from the brink. The initiative, which raised the state sales tax rate by one-quarter cent through 2016, California Comeback: For Teachers, Invisible Scars and Wary Hopes - LA Progressive:


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