LOS ANGELES – NBA player Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers raked in $23,034,375 for the 2009-2010 season. The average L.A.-credentialed teacher’s salary for the 2009-2010 year was $51,995.
Over the last year, California’s fiscal issues have gone from worse to horrific. And the above salaries speak volumes-if you think we don’t pay Bryant’s salary, think again-about where our money goes and what we value. Although Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has attempted to derail the disaster-bound California economic train, his solutions are wreaking havoc with California’s educational system.
Last June, Los Angeles schools faced a $640 million deficit. The district’s decision to finish school one week earlier, brought my daughter’s treasured first year to an abrupt end. Her kindergarten teacher did a heroic job of teaching a newly expanded class-up from 20 to 25-basic skills. Since my little girl starts first grade this fall, I can only imagine how her education will be affected by her school starting one week later. I pray that her new teacher will be able to squeeze in the necessary basics within the narrowed about of time.
In Fixing California’s Budget For Good, a guest contribution to the Los Angeles Times in August, Schwarzenegger makes it seem as if he had no other options in decreasing California’s $60 billion debt but to slash state-run programs and public school funding.
“The economic crisis has rocked governments and families around the world,” Schwarzenegger writes, “and forced us all to confront harsh realities that were ignored for far too long.” His explanation for imposing these “harsh realities” is that he is merely a cog in the burgeoning California budget wheel.
Not only are Governor Schwarzenegger’s budget cuts putting California schools behind other states, they are chiseling away at the education of an estimated 1.4 million students.
According to Jack Jennings, President of the Center on Education Policy in Washington, D.C., “California is the basket case of the country. Fiscally, it is in worse shape than any other state. This is not the first time that California is cutting back on education, but usually districts first cut back on maintenance, professional development, equipment, and try to protect the classroom.”
These drastic cuts are on the heels of the City of Bell debacle. If, in the unlikely chance, you are unaware of the state of Bell’s financial affairs, here’s a digest: Bell is a small town southeast of Los Angeles. The township’s major players managed to gather votes to pass a bill and end salary caps. Then top employees, including the city planner, the mayor and council members, managed to abscond with millions of dollars of state and federal grants by raising their own salaries.
The kicker is that even though the offending employees quit, they still get pensions based on their ridiculously inflated salaries. I say the burden should not fall on the poor people who were set afloat in this dismal economy, but with these brazen, elected thieves/officials.
Why not assess these greedy grant hogs a percentage of what they took in the first place? The offending money can then be returned to California schools.
Although this solution may only gather about $10 million, I’d sleep much better knowing the money went to education, rather than into the pockets of money-grabbing city and state officials.
That might begin to bring a little sense of justice to the overwhelming odds that your son, daughter, niece, nephew, cousin, brother or sister’s teacher will, most likely, be grossly underpaid this year.