Oct 17, 2011
At the start of the school year last month, more than 140 Los Angeles schools reported overcrowding. At Venice High school, for example, there are more than 50 students in some math classes, and more than 75 students in some P.E. classes.
Year after year, class sizes have been increasing in California’s public schools, as school boards laid off teachers and other school workers.
In well-to-do areas, parents raise money through “booster clubs,” and even foundations with hired staff, to cover for the cuts.
But in working-class neighborhoods, students bear the brunt of the cuts. It’s no different at the charter schools, which government officials from Obama on down portray as the answer to the “crisis” of the public schools. For example, at Manual Arts High School in South Los Angeles, which is run by a non-profit charter group, 3,200 students are crammed into a space built for 1,000. On opening day, the school didn’t have enough desks and textbooks. Some students did not get their class schedules. Many students were not able to get through the lunch line.
The “crisis” of the public schools has been caused by the lack of money. They have been starved of it for years, and it’s getting worse.
At every level – federal, state and local – government officials are using the economic crisis as an excuse to slash the money for services, including education. And school district officials follow suit. The Los Angeles school board, for example, laid off 1,200 teachers and support staff last spring, even though it had a 55-million-dollar surplus.
This is an ongoing, deliberate attack on working people and their children, and on the very idea of public schools: that all children deserve an education.