It really is all about the money. … more precisely, the lack of it.
California’s budget issues have reached a boiling point. In one indication of where the state is financially, an L.A. County Superior Court judge is preventing LAUSD from laying off teachers at three troubled Los Angeles middle schools. Apparently the state has arrived at a point in which it is so upside down with its budget that it can’t afford to fire them.
The three schools in question, South L.A.'s Samuel Gompers and Edwin Markham, and John H. Liechty, located in Pico Union, are in horrendous shape.
Talking to Patt Morrison today, Mark Rosenbaum, chief legal counsel for the ACLU, said it was blatantly obvious that the schools were in trouble.
“When we went into the classrooms we found that on day one after the layoffs last year that there were as many as 1/3 of the [classrooms] that was vacant. Those vacancies were typically filled with a string of substitutes; the kids got no homework, no tests, and no quizzes.
Three months into the school year they have had as many as nine or 10 substitutes. In one American history class they were six months into the year and they were still learning the Articles of Confederation. … There are four classrooms at one school in Pico Union that don’t have permanent teachers.”
Mr. Rosenbaum said he believes that not only does this violate the sutdents' right to have equal educational opportunities, but that the students are receiving “no educational opportunity at all.”
While some say the collapse stems from failed UTLA policies, A.J. Duffy, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, told KPCC’s Patt Morrison that he completely disagrees,
“The UTLA policies were not responsible — it’s the districts that didn’t follow their own polices that created this situation. We have said for years that its not extra money or extra money tied to test scores that gets the best people in these schools. It’s creating schools that are safe and secure and clean and healthy with true administrative back-up and support — particularly in discipline — and these schools simply don’t have those things.”
Blame for the failure of these three middle schools, and many other LAUSD schools like them, is being cast on various parties, from the teachers unions to the district.
“When it comes to pointing fingers there’s a lot of places to point," ACLU’s Rosenbaum said. "The state of California does not fund schools properly, it's 47th in country, we are looking up at Mississippi, and Alabama, and Louisiana as states that fund schools far better. We are several thousand dollars below the national average.”