Districts issue joint statement
(May 7) San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten and Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner issued the following statement in response to the Department of Finance’s preliminary estimates on the California State budget and the need for federal relief:
A 20 percent reduction in State funds to public education, which would be about $2,700 less per student, would cause irreparable harm to children. California already spends significantly less on public education than other large states. Los Angeles Unified receives about $17,000 per student (before any cuts) compared with $30,000 in New York.
Students will need more resources to help them make up for lost time in the classroom due to the virus. Moreover, reopening school facilities in a safe manner this fall will also require more funding. Our efforts to enhance the quality of distance learning and provide a safety net to students and families during this public health crisis have been comprehensive and responsive to student’s needs. With approximately 240,000 devices and close to 18 million meals provided in Los Angeles and San Diego, the immediate challenges posed by Covid-19 have significantly increased costs for our schools.
Implicit in every budget are a series of choices which are made more difficult when the dollars are scarce. But they are still choices which elected officials in Sacramento must make and the consequences will have an impact on an entire generation of children.
This generation has a right to an education, and a 20 percent reduction in State school spending would deny students this right. Simply put, that level of spending reduction would make it impossible for schools to safely reopen this fall. There is no substitute for learning in a classroom setting and a total reliance on online learning may result in many, perhaps the majority of students, losing the equivalent of a year of their education, permanently damaging their future and exacerbating inequality in our society.
Over the past two months we have found a way to do extraordinary things in our schools to keep students connected and learning and help families in need. Now it’s time for the State and Federal governments to find a way to do extraordinary things to make sure we deliver on the promise of a great education for every child in public schools. Each one of them has the talent and we cannot fail to provide them with the opportunity for a great education.