Public Comment

Commentary: Flunk the Budget

Friday April 11, 2008

The Governor’s proposed budget would have a devastating impact on California’s public education system, already noted for being 47th in the nation for per pupil spending. This budget does not consider the educational needs of our children or the protection that voters put in place with Proposition 98, which the Governor will have to set aside in order to slash education funding. He needs the support of two-thirds of the legislature to set aside Proposition 98. 

The current budget proposes to cut $4.4 BILLION from public education. Such a cut would come at a time when school district's budgets are already lean, (the BUSD cut $13 million over three years). In Berkeley alone, layoff notices have gone out to 55 certificated educators as a first step in the budget reductions of $3.7 million the BUSD would have to suffer under the Governor’s recommendation.  

The state PTA is mobilizing a statewide rally in Sacramento on April 24 to “Flunk the Budget”, and we hope to send five to ten buses of Berkeley parents and community members. Funds are needed to help pay for the buses the PTA Council will need to rent for this event. We would like to keep down the cost for those who are able to ride the busses to represent our community, and this is one way that those who are not able to make the trip can participate. Berkeley residents do so much to support our schools, through Measure A of 2006 continuing 20 years of BSEP funding, to incredible volunteerism in Berkeley’s classrooms. This is all the more reason that we must stand up to the Governor’s continued efforts to strip the most basic funding from California’s public schools. The Berkeley PTA Council is asking for your support, be it $10 or $100. Every penny will be used to support this and other efforts in Sacra-mento. 

We cannot let the education of our children suffer. Our children are our future, and the future of our state's economy. The public education guaranteed to all children is the cornerstone of democracy. Today’s students are tomorrow’s well-educated and highly skilled citizens who will fill more high paying jobs, create more new businesses, and cost the state less in other social services – if we support them now. 

The budget cannot be balanced at their expense. California already spends about $2,000 less per student than the national average, and is 47th in the nation in per pupil spending. Proposition 98 was passed by the voters in 1988 to guarantee a level of minimum funding for education. It was suspended four years ago, and the governor and legislature are threatening to suspend it again. 

Last year, the Republicans in Sacra-mento signed a pledge not to raise revenues by any amount, under any circumstances. This is not a responsible way to govern. A state budget process that looks at cuts alone is not a real solution, and blindly slashing 10% shows absolutely no effort on the Governor’s part. For the richest state in the nation to become the last in the nation for per pupil spending would be criminal. Prior to Proposition 13, Califor-nia proudly stood at 5th in the nation. 

The Democratic Majority of the State Legislature are committed to doing whatever is necessary to flunk this budget and not cut a dime from public education, but they need to have our support, both locally and whenever we can travel to Sacramento to lift our voices. 

To make a donation for this effort, you can give to your local PTA, or send checks to: Rebecca Abravanel, Treasurer, PTA Council, 716 the Alameda, Berkeley, 94707. 

Of course, it would be great if you could join us in Sacramento. Please contact Berk-eley PTA Council president Cathyrn Bruno at: or the PTA at the school nearest you. 

Thanks for your support! 

The Berkeley PTA Council 

Cathyrn Bruno, President 

Jonathan Squire, Secretary 

Mark Coplan, VP Communication 

and the PTA Council Executive Board