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LA's Youth On How Education Cuts Hurt Them: 'An educated population is vital for a society to be successful'

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How many students won't make it as far as this SFSU graduate did thanks to budget cuts? (Photo by Henry Chen via Flickr)

How many students won't make it as far as this SFSU graduate did thanks to budget cuts? (Photo by Henry Chen via Flickr)
Cuts to education are affecting, and will continue to affect, students at all levels here in California. From increased class sizes, teacher layoffs, program cuts, eliminating most summer school offerings at public K-12 schools, and enrollment caps or freezes, program cuts, and fewer courses offered at colleges and universities, the problems begin in Kindergartens and carry through each and every public school, college, and university classroom, and last beyond graduation, as students lucky enough to get in and get out face enormous debt.LA Youth is a publication by and for teens, and a recent offering shares thoughts on the education cuts by a handful of young minds who are already feeling the impact of these fiscal sacrifices. Here are some excerpts from the students.

Elliot Kwon, 16, Palos Verdes Peninsula HS:

I had just begun to realize how bad the state budget deficit is when I got an e-mail from my school saying that all the summer classes at Harbor Community College were canceled. [Principal, Kelly Johnson] told me that last year our district Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District faced a budget cut of $1 million but was able to raise enough money through an education foundation called Save the Teachers to fill that gap. Now, the district faces a cut of $6 million and there is no way a foundation can save us this upcoming school year. My principal said that program cuts are inevitable; these include choir, Model United Nations and academic decathlon. [...]
By cutting extracurricular activities and laying off good teachers who lack seniority, I’m afraid we are seriously degrading the quality of our school and our district. Even worse, no one knows what the final budget will be by the next school year. The district may have to cut an additional $6 to $10 million by mid-August if it doesn’t get money from the federal stimulus package.
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Caitlin Bryan, 16, Valley Alternative Magnet HS (Van Nuys):

This summer I had planned on taking another modern dance class at Los Angeles Valley College. [...] I signed up for the second session at LAVC [...] Then two days later I found out that the second sessions at all Los Angeles community colleges have been cancelled due to budget cuts.

Jacky Garcia, 16, Lynwood HS:

[M]y school [...] made the announcement that only students going into 12th grade and 12th graders can take summer school. Not even failing students in other grades can take summer school. Once again I was disappointed. I wanted to get [my health] class out of the way so that I can take other classes during the school year that will help me get into a good college.

Sylvana Insua-Rieger, 17, Beverly Hills HS:

As I get ready to start my freshman year of college, I am worried about my financial aid. [...] But the loss of my state aid would mean I’d have a debt of about $40,000 after college graduation. Eliminating Cal Grants will be a huge mistake. If students are prevented from affording higher education (especially in a tight job market), communities and the economy will suffer. I've contacted State Assembly members and the Governor to encourage them to rethink the plan to cut Cal Grants. I understand that there is a huge deficit, but an educated population is vital for a society to be successful.