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Recession takes toll on California schools

Broken families. Increased hunger. Homelessness.

This isn't a blog about post-earthquake life in Haiti. This is the impact of the recession on scores of children attending California schools, according to a recent report from UCLA's Institute for Democracy, Education and Access.

Recession hitting California schools hard flickr photo by honeybsF

California currently leads the nation in unemployment and mortgage foreclosures. The loss of tax revenue has forced schools to cut back on spending, programs and personnel.

The study, called "Educational Opportunities in Hard Times," surveyed 87 school principals to assess how funding issues are impacting schools on a daily basis. The responses weren't pretty.

According to the report's findings, as described in the San Francisco Chronicle:

  • 74 percent of elementary principals and 54 percent of secondary principals reported class-size increases
  • 70 percent of principals said summer school had been cut or eliminated
  • 58 percent said they either cut back or eliminated textbook purchases
  • 43 percent reported teacher layoffs
  • 41 percent asked parents or community groups to cover the cost of field trips
  • 25 percent reported cuts to school psychologists, social workers and nurses

The cutbacks in school services are coming at a time when impoverished children are arriving at the school door in increasing numbers. Roughly 25 percent of children across the state are now living in poverty – an 8 percent increase in just two years, according to the report. In Los Angeles, one in three children are poor, compared to one in five in 2007.

High-poverty schools are being hit the hardest, the report concluded. Those schools were more than four times as likely to have teacher layoffs as low-poverty schools, and received only an eighth as much in donations meant to offset budget cuts. According to the report:

Increasing poverty has led to greater food insecurity. Patti Webb, principal of Farmdale Elementary in the Central Valley, encourages community members to let her know when they need assistance. “Lately it’s been kids telling me ‘We’re hungry,we don’t have food.’” Webb adds that she recently has been approached by parents who previously never needed support. “Even some PTA parents are saying they don’t have enough food.” Ron Miller, who leads another Central Valley school reports:“We know we’re their only source of food.”

 Much worse, almost 33 percent of principals surveyed reported increased homelessness.

At Mission Middle School, serving a community with a very high unemployment rate in Riverside County, the front office staff collects “money to help families pay rent, bills.” Teachers at Roosevelt Elementary in Los Angeles County have bought clothes and food for needy families. Principal Randi Wilson notes that this practice is something new for Roosevelt. “I’ve been at this school for over twenty years and I’ve never seen this happen before.” As teachers have become more aware of the challenges their students face, many have become more engaged in their students lives. Eddie Johnson of Bayside High School in Alameda County reports that several of his teachers have taken in homeless youth to live with them.

John Rogers, director at the Institute for Democracy, Education and Access, said principals told researchers that they didn't believe schools could continue without financial relief soon: "Before the recession, California schools had fewer resources than most schools across the nation," Rogers said, with the state among the bottom in spending per student. "Now, we have clearly fallen further and further behind."

And there may not be any relief in sight.

San Francisco Unified School District, for example, announced last week that it may eliminate up to 400 district positions, including 100 teachers. The district might also cut school busing for high schoolers and institute unpaid furloughs to grapple with the loss of more than $113 million in funding. Some teachers have said they will try to fight the cuts.

Filed under: K–12, Daily Report

Comments

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seo007's picture
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armandnic's picture
We all know, that recession is a black hole, which suck many people life, not only in America, but also around the world. But we should be proud for vast healing from this disaster.

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jb4522jb's picture
The recession is effecting everything in this country. It really hurts that it is effecting the colleges to cut back. This is where we do not need to cut back. I hope it gets better. atlanta accutane attorneys
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recession will affected many side of humanity. So i think it is government should take a role finding solutions.

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We all know, that recession is a black hole, which suck many people life, not only in America, but also around the world.
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there is definitely no money for the schools and this definitely hurts a lot of people. The recession is effecting to many things. We have to get out of this recession. Financial Training
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Cancasa's picture
These are truly shocking numbers and feel that many people are unaware of how dire the economic situation is. I'm always reminded of the story of Joseph in the bible concerning famine/feast. When times were good, the authorities squandered opportunities that would have helped survive the bad times.
jannemarrie's picture
California currently leads the nation in unemployment and mortgage foreclosures. New trends 2011
tufty's picture
I think many schools will be forced to stay alive through privatization as this recession has a long way to go and the after effects tend to drag on for years after.
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I think Recession take much trouble in whole California state not only in schools

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