California educators seek more school funding

February 1, 2011 6:44:08 PM PST
California public schools have been struggling with 18 billion in cuts over the last 3 years and on Tuesday, educators and administrators pleaded for more funding for education and an extension of those tax increases that are about to expire.

ABC7 caught up with a class visiting the Capitol and even 10-year-olds know what budget cuts have meant for their schools.

"Teachers, they've cut back on 10 teachers at our school," student Dianna Bonilla said.

The Education Coalition, groups comprised of teachers, administrators and parents, say public schools have endured $18 billion in cuts over three years. Districts have shortened their academic year, cut non-essential classes and let 30,000 teachers go. They warn that an additional $2 billion will be lopped off if Californians don't agree to extend the temporary tax hikes another five years.

"The notion of another couple of billion on top of everything we just described is frightening to us, and should be to anybody who cares about the quality of education in California," Bob Wells from the Association of California School Administrators said.

Republicans will block attempts to get the tax vote on a June ballot, even if it means more cuts to schools could be prevented. Many believe more cuts are possible without affecting the classroom by simply changing laws that protect union jobs.

"Why don't we let volunteers come in and run libraries? We have state codes that say we can't do that at all," Senate Budget Vice Chairman Sen. Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar said.

Even if the tax extensions make it to the ballot, there's no guarantee voters will approve them, considering they already turned down extending the taxes back in 2009 -- that's a prospect upsetting to parents like Amber Miller.

"I think we all have those kinds of worries. If it hadn't passed before, it's a possibility it won't pass again," concerned mom Amber Miller said.

The California Teachers Association says it's ready to help finance a campaign to get those temporary tax hikes extended. Early polling shows if tax hikes are connected to education, voters tend to support them.