California budget falls short with teachers, students
Three unenrolled students came to my Spanish class the first day, hoping to finagle a spot on the roster. Two doggedly returned the following class, forcing the teacher to shoo them away with a pained expression Â â her class was already one over the roster limit. The students left and the rest of the class â at least in my imagination â sat uncomfortably in a puddle of survivorâs guilt; most of us were seniors and most of us, whether majors or minors, needed the class to graduate, and there we lucky few stayed.
The Spanish department didnât fare as well during the hiring freeze as other subjects in the university â at times, walking from the cinema building to a language course at USC feels a bit like making the trek from Cabo to Calcutta. Two years after the German department was axed completely, fewer language courses are offered at USC, professors are overloaded with sections and many students show up the first day like wedding crashers with honorable intentions, hoping to slip into the class through the back door.
But as students come in twos and threes to petition spots in courses across the university, a far more dire situation is occurring at public universities and colleges across the state. With Californiaâs budget still pending more than 60 days into the fiscal year, students are being turned away in droves from classes across the Golden State â too many students, not enough teachers. And at this most inopportune time, two California politicians have proposed a suspension of the minimum school funding in the state.
The federal government gave California $1.2 billion to provide a buffer for teacher hires. Politicians in Sacramento, however, might use the money to supplant, not supplement, the crippled public education budget in California in an effort to prop up the $19.1 billion deficit.
State Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and Assembly Speaker John A. PĂ©rez (D- Los Angeles) recently suggested eliminating the guarantee on minimum school funding. This way, legislators could subtract the $1.2 billion from the education budget, knowing it would come from federal coffers.
Shirking the California education system of a much-needed cashflow is not the way to reinvigorate the state economy. Los Angeles Times columnist Sandy Banks painted a grim picture in her Aug. 28 article about overcrowding at California universities. At San Francisco State Â attendees looking for entry into a course wait in droves on the first day of class. Many students have to delay graduation because they canât catch a spot in a required course.
California State University, meanwhile, is allowing students to enroll for the spring semester, but deferring news of their admission until the state budget is resolved. Students are forced to take a crap shoot on their education, or look elsewhere.
Though as members of a private university this is a problem most USC students wonât have to deal with immediately, anyone looking to do post-graduate studies at a UC school will be in for a rude awakening.
The last thing needed right now is a go-ahead to further decrease educational spending, given last yearâs fee-hikes to public universities â an event that was boisterously protested by students and largely ignored by legislators. It will take a vocal show of dissent from state politicians to resolutely nip the idea in the bud, and itâs time for our representatives to provide that.
California schools, and their students, deserve that $1.2 billion, and they deserve a budget that hasnât been shredded by politicking. Are we going to give it to them?
Lucy Mueller is a senior majoring in cinema-television production and is a managing editor for the Daily Trojan. Her column âEverything is Copyâ runs Mondays.