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Nearly 20,000 preliminary pink slips issued to Calif. teachers, union says

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Nearly 20,000 preliminary pink slips have been issued to teacher statewide as of today, the state's legal deadline for giving notice to educators, according to an estimate by the California Teachers Association.

"When you issue thousands of layoff notices for educators, you are hurting students," said Dean E. Vogel, president of the CTA in a statement today. "The wave of education layoff turmoil brought on again by state cuts is rolling through classrooms and the families of our students. When you continually lay off teachers, you break the bonds of learning, and you send the message that education is not a priority in our state."

Vogel said there have been more than $20 billion in public education cuts to schools and community colleges in the past four years. California ranks 47th in per-pupil spending, about $3,000 below the national average of roughly $11,600, according to the latest Quality Counts report from Education Week.

Here are the early numbers on preliminary pink slips according to the CTA:

Thus far, 206 school districts had reported at least 19,500 educator pink slips as of today. The 10 California school districts issuing the most layoff notices are: Los Angeles Unified, about 9,500; San Diego Unified, more than 1,608; San Juan Unified, 458; Capistrano Unified, 392; Sacramento City Unified, 389; Moreno Valley Unified, 332; Long Beach Unified, 309; San Bernardino City School District, 251; San Francisco Unified, 210; Sweetwater High School District, 209.

School districts have until May 15 to decide on final teacher cuts.

According to the CTA release, the 550-student Brisbane School District send out preliminary pink slips to more than 25 percent of its 30 teachers.

At Tuesday's L.A. Unified school board meeting, UTLA President Warren Fletcher urged board members to reverse thousands of the more than 11,700 preliminary pink notices it has sent out to district educators. (About 9,500 were sent out to teachers, officials said.)

"To do otherwise means those teachers and those students, and those schools, are going to be treated as budgetary hostages and budgetary bargaining chips," Fletcher said.

Fletcher said Tuesday that sending out more than 10,000 preliminary pink slips was an historic high for the district.

"That's one-fourth of the district’s educators," Fletcher told board members at the meeting. "If you were actually to follow through and finalize those pink slips, obviously you'd destroy this district.

California's Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson issued a statement on the issuance of tens of thousands of preliminary pink slips statewide:

"Teachers across the state have rightly come to dread March 15. Though the very future of our state depends on California’s teachers, today many will receive a layoff notice that suggests just the opposite—and will now spend months in limbo, worrying about their futures and the future of their students.

Every pink slip being issued today is an unwelcome and undeserved blow to the morale of the teacher who receives it. They should also remind all of us of the urgency of finding the will and the resources to end the financial emergency facing our public schools."

As education makes up about 40 percent of the state's general fund, it is often the area that stands to gain or lose the most in the budget process especially during tough economic times.

Though L.A. Unified's board has approved placing a parcel tax before voters in November to try and provide for more local education revenue, it is unclear what will happen to the two tax measures Gov. Jerry Brown is attempting to get on the ballot. What happens to those measures will determine whether there may be $5.2 billion in education cuts, according to the governor's proposed budget.

LAUSD sent out 7,302 preliminary pink slips last March for this current school year; 3,433 of those were rescinded in June because of increased state funding and "major sacrifices" by employees, district officials said.

Tami Abdollah can be reached via email and on Twitter (@latams).

Do you know a teacher who has received a layoff notice? Be a confidential news source for KPCC.

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