Public education in California has not been easy.
“We had five terrible years of the recession, of budget cuts, of pink slips. A lot of great programs were dismantled or shut down; music, arts, drama, science, civics,” State Superintendent Tom Torlakson said.
Times are changing. Thanks to a budget surplus, $10 billion is going to k-12 schools. Even better is how that money is being spent.
“With 6 million students there’s no way the state can micromanage teaching and learning at all the schools from El Centro to Eureka, and we shouldn’t even try,” Governor Jerry Brown said during his State of the State Address Wednesday morning.
Brown added each school district will decide how to best use their funds. Though Torlakson said throughout the state there are some common goals like buying more equipment.
“We’re really pushing for more computers. We really want no child left ‘off-line’ and have our schools equipped for the 21st century,” he explained, “Class sizes won’t be as crowded which is good for students.”
While the big news during the state of the state is that K-12 schools will get a financial boost the other good news is that community colleges will also be seeing a boost.
“This is the first time where the governor has proposed a double digit increase for community colleges,” Brian King, Chancellor for the Los Rios Community College District, said. Budget cuts since 2008 have taken a toll.
“We did have to reduce the number of courses and sections that were offered. Our enrollment was close to 90,000 students and now is more in the 80,000 range,” King said.
The extra funding means they can take in more students, and get current students graduated.
For every stage of education the return of funding is welcome news.
“There are more smiles in our schools,” Torlakson said. “It’s not undoing all the cuts or harm that was done during 5 year recession, but it’s in the right direction.”