Opinion: Budget Cuts Spark Debate

Twenty teachers. On yellow notes, scribbled with the principal’s signature are the words “Your contract may not be renewed for the next year.” Twenty.

A budget cut is not merely the loss of money- it is the destruction of potential. California is now facing one of its harshest, if not the harshest, slashes in funding for education, and my school, battered by years of finance holes and empty-jar hurricanes, has broken, toppled, and crashed.

The title is, per say, a bit misleading. The country’s national budget is dying. Whether sucked dry by foreign companies or hoarded by internal corporate tyrants, the money is disappearing. Public transportation, dying, but still effective, has a nice home in the back of our minds. County health services are dropping specialists here and there. What rankles me the most is how the country is dealing with education. Killing it. Right, that’s the perfect solution.

Blame the war in Iraq. Blame social security. Blame the right wing lobbyists, rising gas prices, a failure to grasp foreign economies, whatever. One doesn’t trip before push shoves, but America, essentially, has already done that. The money ran dry before we settled our financial woes, and those problems will not stop bugging.

The worst case is to pile up management on education. California spends 40% of its budget on its students (albeit the fact that it’s almost last out of all the states in student performance) for a reason: to give each and every kid an education. You don’t solve financial problems by taking away a child’s books, pencils, or teachers, do you?

I see education as a right. A government must adhere to providing each and every one of its citizens with an education. Ignore the bias, or the purposely left out history chunks, and specific national requirements. In order to become an adult, a child needs preparation. Knowledge and common sense would be a nice foundation. Not knowing what two plus two makes is quite unbecoming of an adult. Or so it seems.

Sometimes, I imagine the government fails to care about its kids, teenagers, and “young adults.” The politicos say, “We need more scientists to for better technology. More lawyers to settle national affairs. More doctors. More intelligent students.” They say that, and take away the lab equipment, the frogs and chemicals, the test tubes and eggs and flasks. They remove the textbooks, so my classmates and I have to reuse musty textbooks which seem to cry, “Can’t I get a rest already? I’ve been working since 92…give me a break.” Take away the markers and pens, and tell me how the teachers will teach. Most of all, the situation seems hopeless when a school cannot provide tissues or toilet paper for its students.

America thinks it can fix its problems by breaking all the solutions. Cut a teacher’s pay- remove their motivation for teaching. Cut a teacher- drown a classroom, often with thirty, thirty-five, or even the occasional forty, with students nowhere to sit but windowsills and cabinets. Take away my textbooks? Those rags will probably dissolve before they even reach the library. The future can’t be fixed when the seeds of the present are malnutritioned and dying.

This crisis occurred only five years back, in 2003. I remember my teachers going on strike then.

This time, the picket lines are gone, probably too expensive to purchase anyway, and one can feel a simmering resentment in the classrooms. The hallways are empty without campus administrators, and the lunch lines gradually grow longer each day. Restrooms close down, without enough money to fix vandalism, as the library suffers from each lost book. But it is silent, the school, and its staff, for this time a general hopelessness has settled, with no end in sight.

This opinion was written by Randy Shun. His opinion does not represent the view of the Temple City Voice. It appeared in the Temple City Voice on March 19, 2008.

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