Welcome to March 15. Also known in the education biz as "Pink Slip Day." There are plenty of tenured teachers who still shiver in anticipation of the day. As related here some weeks ago, the idea behind laying off teachers, administrators, and other staff is a cost-cutting measure designed to help trim "bloated budgets." The sad thing is, most of the salaries that will be eliminated in this purge will be the ones at the low end of the pay scale. New teachers, those fresh faces that came to work back in September with the notion of changing the world by educating the next generation will be the first to be let go. Here in California, now ranked somewhere near the bottom of fifty states in per-student spending, we collectively stand scratching our metaphorical heads.
What does it mean to be first or last in per-student spending, and isn't it sad that such a statistic exists? Maybe the happy face that could be put on this idea would be that students here in the Golden State are so very clever that they simply require less material and attention than their counterparts across the nation. We can put more of them into a classroom and they will still succeed. We're getting a bargain here.
Or maybe we have to actively pursue financial solutions to this problem. Are there programs and staff that could be eliminated in public education? There is little doubt that, like so many other government operations, our belts could be tightened, metaphorically. But that solution is not met by simply chopping off those hired most recently. It would require a systematic house cleaning, with an eye toward improving the education while saving money. That takes time. Time is money. Therefore, another round of pink slips will be found in teacher's mailboxes today, while we try to unravel our nation's health care issues and prosecute two wars.
"Unless we take action — unless we step up — there are countless children who will never realize their full talent and potential," President Barack Obama said during a video address on Saturday. "I don't accept that future for them. And I don't accept that future for the United States of America." Okay. Let's begin, shall we?