Thursday, May 13, 2010

Final layoff

The process of getting laid off in education is like water torture. First, there are the rumors, then the pink slips, then the meetings, then the rumors, then the final layoff notices. And then the talk of alternative funding.

My principal came over to my library yesterday to hand me the final layoff letter and to give me a hug (which was much needed).

As a librarian, this "termination" symbolizes so much more than the loss of a single person. The space that I'm in charge of -- as humble as it may be -- includes the work of decades of culling, buying, and protecting. It's a living thing; it moves and flows, it provides a safe haven and a place for collaboration. The closure of a library is a death.

This article in the Huffington Post by one of the good guys in this battle -- Peter Dreier is a prof at my alma mater Oxy and someone who tried to get the parcel tax measure passed -- made me feel a whole lot better.

At least we're discussing the problems in this whacked system. Here's Dreier on what's wrong:

"The harsh reality is that, like every school district in California, Pasadena schools are still suffering from the shock waves produced by Proposition 13, the statewide initiative passed in 1978 that put a ceiling on local property taxes. Since then, school districts have been almost totally dependent on the state for school funding. Once among the best public education systems in the nation -- from kindergarten through college -- California has now sunk to one of the worst.

California is the 7th wealthiest state in the country (in per-capita income), but it ranks 46th in per student spending, according to Education Week -- $8,164 compared with the national average of $10,557. It ranks 42th in the number of students per teacher, resulting in large average class sizes. California has 20.9 students per teacher, compared to a national average of 15.5. It is at the very bottom in the ratio of counselors, school nurses, and librarians to students." 

That's the bad history; but there's good news here, too. Most of the people in Pasadena voted for the parcel tax measure, and that many others are talking about the serious inequities in this screwed-up system. 

Here's the entire Huffington Post article.

1 comment:

  1. Re Prop 13, I recently did some research and found that bc of that baleful development, we pay more in prop tax for our tiny cottage in a transitional neighborhood than Warren Buffett pays for one of his Laguna mansions, since he bought in the '70s when prices were lower.