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Budget Cuts at LAUSD Have Some Kids Floored--Literally

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Photo by Steven Fernandez via Flickr

Photo by Steven Fernandez via Flickr
The school year is well underway now, and campuses in the vast LAUSD system are coping with the consequences of this year's massive budget cuts. But in the state as a whole, "the impact of California's budget cuts has varied from school to school. Because of the patchwork of federal and state funding for education, some campuses have felt the pinch far less than others," explains Mitchell Landsberg in yesterday's LA Times.

There are some local districts, like Long Beach and Glendale, who are finding the impact minimal; with scrimps and pinches in other areas of spending within their smaller districts they are able to keep class sizes down. But that's not the case at the LAUSD, where some classrooms aren't just at a tad over capacity--they're ridiculously maxed out to the point of absurdity. "If there had been rafters, somebody would have been hanging from them," describes Landsberg of a U.S. History class meeting at Fairfax High. "Forty-five students were shoehorned into a classroom designed for perhaps 30 -- and this on a day when three students were absent." That means kids were on the floor, some left standing. Oh, and it's an honors class. So the pressure's on for these kids to do well on their feet. Literally.

When it comes to cuts at the LAUSD, Superintendent Ramon Cortines passed the buck--or the ax, so to speak--by putting much of the options for where cuts would take place on the schools themselves, using teachers as leverage, therby forcing principals and administrators to decide what they would be willing to give up in order to retain staff. The result are cuts in spending that resemble what one high-level LAUSD administrator describes as "patchwork." But no matter how you look at it, what the LAUSD has to offer right now is fairly grim.

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Teachers are having to adjust their strategies in order to get their students to learn what is needed (mostly so they can apply this learning to mandated standardized tests that determine a school's standing and measure "success") but some are taking on a positive attitude. Landsberg quotes Tracie Bryant of Saturn Street Elementary, who said: "There will not be excuses. . . . There's no point in standing in the middle of our accident. We're going to dust off, get our car fixed and get it back on the road."