Sunday, May 15, 2011

California Children May Get 5 Weeks a Year of Their Lives Back

The San Jose Mercury News reported yesterday that Jerry Brown and other government officials worry that as much as $5 billion may need to be cut from K-12 public schools in order to balance California's budget. (Apparently they're unaware of the Republican proposal to close this year's gap without touching education.) These cuts could mean shaving 25 days off of the 180-day school year, as well as teacher furloughs and layoffs.

Educators, as you might expect, are greeting the news as a sign of the apocalypse, and are prepared to fight the state's authority to renegotiate teachers' contracts in this way. Students are less concerned; Los Altos High sophomore Sam Gavenman says, "Every year since elementary school, the last two weeks have always been watching movies and hanging out in the classroom, which is great. It's that end-of-the-year mentality, I'm chilling." And the differing perspectives here should tell you everything you need to know. The teachers have their own self-interest to look after, but the students have to wonder whether spending those five weeks in some of the nation's worst schools is really the best use of their time (better than, say, learning a trade or even starting a small business). Of course, this presumes that California parents would be willing to give up on five weeks of free day care. And that mindless public education hasn't destroyed the creativity or initiative of our children.


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