Part of the Bay Area News Group

From cradle to college? Maybe not in CA.

By Katy Murphy
Wednesday, May 26th, 2010 at 11:55 pm in budget, preschool, School board news.

preschoolGov. Schwarzenegger’s proposed budget would decimate the Oakland school district’s early childhood education programs, Chief Financial Officer Vernon Hal told the school board tonight.

We’re talking about a $16 $13 million cut for Oakland Unified’s childhood development centers — at least 80 70 percent of the current, $17.9 million pre-k budget — and 170-180 jobs lost. That would bring the district’s total deficit to almost $100 million, and its total full-time position cuts to 630. (Note: Updated figures from OUSD on June 7.)

The possibility of that happening seems to have shaken even the calm, unflappable CFO, who recently (with Superintendent Tony Smith) met with State Senator Loni Hancock and her staff to lay out the consequences of such a decision. Hal said his team is scrambling to figure out what to do, and that he will likely present a 2010-11 budget for OUSD without those cuts, since they have yet to be approved.

“It’s chaos,” Hal said.

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  • Nextset

    Childhood Development is a luxury we cannot have in Great Depression 2. The core mission of our public school system is to get adolescents ready for military, industry, or higher education. It is not daycare, it is not primary “best possible schooling”. While it is nice to take care of babies and smaller children so that their parent(s) don’t have to, that’s extra and the first thing overboard in a depression.

    You see, you can get adolescents ready for military, industry and higher ed without having handled them in the earlier years. It doesn’t take a lot of extra preschool work to train an adolescent to work at menial jobs or the military. If they are bright they might have other options, that’s their business.

    All these extras are just that. If the parent(s) want extras for the kid, they or their church/union/family have to pay for it in times like these. The Treasury is not a Charity.

    With the economic downward spiral the Socialist State has created we will be lucky to protect road maintenance, police and fire services, public health and essential services. Early education is not essential, it’s optional. “Development” of prole children is less essential than keeping open and functioning the higher grades for the same children. If we really wanted to protect these programs, which we clearly don’t, we’d eliminate all foreign nationals legal or not from the public school system and leave them for private or church schools or paying required non-resident/national tuition for the public schools. They can be returned to their own nations for education if they don’t carry their own tuition money with them. That would conserve funds for these programs for our own nationals. We don’t want to do that – so here come the program closures for all.

    If this sounds tough – so is life. Who do we owe with the limited resources we have here, and who do we not owe?

  • Starshaped

    Nextset, it is all very well and good to say that Early Childhood Education is not needed in this economic depression but it is not a luxury but a necessity. Back during the Great Depression, there was the ‘luxury’ of having mom at home to help develop those early literacy and math skills. More and more households do not have that luxury. They don’t have relatives that can pick up the slack and they cannot afford quality childcare. They depend on the services that OUSD provides. If those children are not in an Early Childhood Education program, they are put further behind the 8 ball. Expectations are high for Kindergarten. Kids are expected to be able to read by the end of K. They are suppose to be able to write legibly and write at least two sentences on their own. They are expected to know all manner of math skills including addition and subtraction. I know from experience as a K teacher, that students that don’t have the skills gained in pre-school such as letter and number knowledge, are not competitive with those who have gotten pre-school. Not to mention the social skills needs to survive a full day of Kindergarten. Despite my belief that Kindergarten should be the place where early learning skills should be learned, K today is 1st grade on steroids from the 80′s. Those students most in need will suffer the most from these cuts thusly perpetuating the cycle of poverty and hopelessness.

  • Nextset

    Starshaped: You assume I am saying that care for the younger children isn’t important for their development. That’s not so.

    What you don’t understand that I am saying is that there is limited educational funds. With these budget limits we will be choosing what to fund and what to let go. I am saying it is more important to fund (to the extent we can) the older children – and to provide the education no one can expect from family (ie driver’s ed, deportment, civics, math and formal english classes).

    I have no problem with the concept that many people are going to fall and many others will rise in social mobility. I have no problem with the concept that the government is not here to raise people’s kids and do for children what their parents and families have a duty to do – or not have so many kids. I don’t have a problem with this concept and I do not propose we go in and try to fund the failings and failures or the families.

    In other words, raise them yourself, don’t expect to use government as day care.

    The “education” budget we have – for the moment – has to be rationed, triaged if you will. I believe that balance is best tipped in favor of the older children, 10 and up. 13 and up is required. I am not saying we close down 3rd grade. I am saying we strip the early childhood education programs. I don’t believe at at they make the difference in what the kids become. That to a very large degree is predetermined by fixed factors well other than the school classrooms at grades K to 5.

    The liberals refusal to live within any budget and gratuitous spending – bread and circuses – is what will end in collapse of this government and this nation. The OUSD board is going to have to make draconian cuts and they’d better get some priorities set. You can’t ruin everybody trying to save everybody.

    If I were the board I would have no hesitation to rewrite the rules to move on, bankruptcy, outsourcing, automation, and sink or swim conditions for the kids and the families. You do the reasonable thing (openly) to stay in budget and let the chips fall where they may – as opposed to digging a deeper hole.

    In a hyperinflation or great depression don’t think the high school can’t turn into a correspondence course. It can. Wish this never happens. But the district will live within it’s budget.

  • Cranky Teacher

    By bashing the efficacy of public institutions for the past 30 years, we have created a situation where childcare and education for the most vulnerable among us can be described as “a luxury” and something not worth paying taxes for.

  • Harold

    @nextset – is there some other blog where you bash Congress for bailing out wall street? Everything you say about the great depression II, would seem to apply to these banks that are too big to fail.

    When we bail out Visa, Mastercard and any other financial institution, in the coming months … what will YOU do?

  • Nextset

    Harold: I’m interested in education because I constantly see Negroes (love that term) in the criminal courts completely unable to function as adults. They typically conduct themselves as fully grown children and everybody else in the system uses their lack of emotional control and literacy against them. I believe (rightly or wrongly) that this comes from years spent in these rancid public schools with no discipline. Properly stress tested and trained as students, the urban blacks are capable of so much more than they are getting out of life.

    This is not the way I remember things from the 1960s where blacks were semi skilled and skilled labor or had their own small businesses, and even if poor, had intact families. The difference in socialization is apparently due both to the current lack of fathers in the home and the public school systems that are refusing to impose discipline or effective basic skill training. I would have no problem with serious corporal punishment in urban schools or juvenile halls.

    So over time I’ve come to the conclusion that the losses the black students take in Grades 1-10 result in lifelong occupational, social, health & civic impairment. Regardless of the old issues of racial differences in cognitive skills, nutrituion, hormone levels or what have you, the black students of the 21st Century in the US don’t seem to be doing as well in terms of social/civic/occupational assimilation as the mid-20th Century black students (despite the progress of the “Egyptians”).

    Some of this is the wholesale transfer of occupations engineered by the US Government from lower class Americans such as blacks to Mexican Indians and other 3rd worlders. Without their presence the black students might have started (continued) up the ladder of work and received enough on the job training to make up for the failure of the public schools. It’s wrong to flood the USA with 3rd Worlders to supplant our own people.

    I do acknowledge that we have “black” physicians, judges etc now that we didn’t have in 1960 but I believe that is receeding sharply and the “black” strivers are turning rather “Eqyptian” as immigrants and mixed marriage candidates take those roles. The barriers to the professions are becoming so strong, the competition so acute, that you’re not going to be seeing “black” professionals like we have been. The New “Black Professionals” are more like Kamala Harris, Lenny Kravitz & Carly Simon (“Egyptians”!!) maybe. I suppose we are well used to this process now – these are the people that will turn up when you have Affirmative Action positions. Meanwhile our jails and prisons… The whole process of success is turning into a Caste thing. We are supposed to have a school system that can allow brights of all Castes to rise.

    Back to your post about the bailout of Wall Street,

    Although I believe the way the bailout was done was a huge mistake my interests are stronger here with Education than in pure economics. If I were Congress I would have severely punished the employees in the bailed out businesses with confiscatory (industry specific) income tax increases for those people’s earnings, severely punished the stockholders of those businesses, and break up most of these companies as we once broke up Standard Oil and the Phone Company. The bailouts themselves may have been required to avert a cascading failure in the bankling system. But the misery has not been placed on the authors of the disaster who got away with the money. So all this is in the process of happening again.

    So here I am. Besides, it seems that few people here express my point of view so the white liberals who dominate public educational policy have few people to clash with.

    Brave New World! Where Alphas are Alphas, and Betas don’t care.

  • Alice Spearman

    Nextset,
    I really understand where you are comming from as I am also a “Child of the 60″s”. You really need to go to one of the Castlemont Schools, find 2 or 3 young Black Men and Mentor them, you would be surprised at what you may find. There are many young Black Males who need an example. It is hard to strive to become something that you have never exzperienced or know! THINK ABOUT IT!

  • Nextset

    Alice Spearman: I don’t think it’s as easy as you seem to be saying. I have worked with young (college aged) blacks. It’s very frustrating.

    You see, you have to be willing to get out of your comfort zone to do anything different than what you have been doing or are programmed to do. The black kids (I keep using that word, I mean adolescent to late 20s) are largely determined to do things their way or at least doing what they like doing. They have been brought up to continue doing so, and are quite able to physically keep doing it. You just can’t tell someone to go without or change in any way when they know full well they can refuse to do so and keep going. Besides, all their friends are doing it.

    And that last part is the biggie. It’s a Caste thing, they are living up to their caste, to change would mean (gasp) acting white or something bad like that. Then who would be their friends?

    Meanwhile the Egyptians and the Immigrants take one thing after another. And don’t even get started about the Jews. For the most part the black kids refuse to even compete with the Jewish Kids completely giving up aspects of competition to them. So there you have it.

    Then you have the male/female occupational issues. Blacks seems to have specific ideas about what occupations black boys vs girls can do. The last time I went to a ghetto public school there wasn’t a single black boy in the wanna-be lawyer room. But the black girls have a rigid sense of what they are going to do (which is not what it takes, either). They do what they want, or what they are “comfortable” with.

    So I can take East Indian girls as law clerks and they will run through fire for you and the black girls start socializing with the black clericals and avoiding the Attorney things. The Egyptians know better and and don’t identify with the non-professionals.

    This can go on and on. Alice, I have done things and I still do to try to advance the black kids with some spark of talent but for every one of them there are 10 times the number of mixed kids and immigrants who are just more compelling. And I’ve learned the hard way that I cannot overcome or change bad morals and bad upbringing. I have tried. Advancing these people only puts them in position to get in more trouble than if you left them alone.

    So that’s my experience. Black candidates for this profession are few and far between and those who do appear have a pretty interesting story about why they are different. Urban Public Schools are a bad place to look for (black) professional candidates. And the same is true for many other professions requiring responsibility, authority and fidelity. Have any black Eagle Scouts in OUSD?

    Basically the game for most of these kids is already lost by 12th grade. The main battle is to keep them out of jail and employed at all. Thus my oft repeated point that Urban Public Schools need more life coaching/voc ed and less college prep. (bookkeeping not advanced algebra)

    If things aren’t changed in the black secondary schools you can start writing off the whole group as they are buried by the immigrants and the mixed kids. Deportment and language skills followed by literacy are required to get into the middle & professional classes. These are not areas the Urban Schools care about.

    Another way of putting it, Alice, is that I and people like me are not interested in getting involved with black lower class youth until their schools first do something about the behavior and the presentation of those “students”. Until then, we have immigrants to mentor. I for one don’t waste my time – I spend it where I get results. I want things to change at schools like Castlemont but that won’t happen until the pain forces them to change. The liberal democrats are determined to make sure there is relatively little pain in Urban America if they have to print a warehouse full of money to do it.

  • Nextset

    On the flip side of this, have you read “A Piece of Cake” by the CA black female Lawyer who was a member of the Crips Gang? Check out the Amazon reviews.

    http://www.amazon.com/Piece-Cake-Memoir-Cupcake-Brown/dp/1400052289

    I’m surprised the State Bar let her in. I was intrigued to see her connection to Justice Kennard – the POW-Camp-refugee turned Supreme Court Justice.

    But the story is an interesting one. I use that word to indicate something that doesn’t go as expected.

    Again it’s the black female who is making it from Ghetto to boardroom, not the male. Although usually it’s neither one of them.

    So anything is possible.

  • Nextset

    Alice: I do think Castlemont should get every black Lawyer, Doctor and Judge in Oakland into that school during the year speaking to groups no larger than a classroom at a time. I’d love to hear how it goes, and what the reaction is.

  • Hot R

    Nextset – although some of your observations are quite accurate, I would remind you that you save one kid at a time just as you have tried to do in your business. You can’t seem to get past your racial theories about “Egyptians,” mixed race kids and immigrants dominating blacks. Although I do not teach in Oakland anymore, I can give you a hundred examples of black students cajoled and encouraged by teachers to overcome and achieve. The problem is that this is not enough to statistically save a generation. But that does not mean it is hopeless or should not be the goal.

    Education is not a “luxury” but a necessity. Pre-K care is crucial to a child’s development – especially in homes without fathers, books, and time to nurture. Teachers are helpless to do much more than babysit when families cannot or will not fulfill their roles and communities or unions do not fill in the gaps. Thus subtracting one part of the social safety net, like pre-K care will result in a death spiral for that generation. If hard choices need to be made, it would be better to cut at the top (like the administration) than the bottom. Oakland’s administration has always been filled with WAY too many cushy jobs who have NOTHING to do with the classroom but continue to siphon money intended for the students.

  • Nextset

    Hot R: I don’t disagree with you.

    I look for people to save where the house odds are in my favor. I tried it the other way. Maybe as you get older you realize you don’t have forever to make a difference – or you just get burned out dealing with losers.

    When I want to mentor wanna be lawyers/doctors I’m probably going to do it elsewhere than ghetto secondary schools.

    In this context, the point of urban (prole) schools is to get the brights they do have to work with ready for the next jump. In my experience they are doing the opposite. The urban public schools make sure the brights they have are ruined – with bad deportment, bad morals and just bad training. No class visitor can make up for this. The schools reinforce the caste system and create bonds to lock the low class bright students into their caste. By 12th grade their entire identity is wrapped up in their externally imposed notion of who and what they are – no allowances for a lot of change. The external presentation, the dialect, the earbobs, maybe some gold teeth, loud clothes slung low, what have you – is used to make darn sure everybody knows what to expect from them. There are more subtle flags I can see also. No, I don’t “mentor” these people. Or stand next to them. Their look and behavior is just the advertisement for how they think and what they will do given any opportunity to do so. They are the people the signs refer to that read “We have the right to refuse service to anyone”.

    That’s why I now prefer to work with middle class/professional class secondary schools not lower class schools. This wasn’t always the case. But it is now.

    The Caste system is just too strong for someone to break on an individual basis in the time allowed. That’s why systematic change is needed.

    And that’s how I believe it is now. Too bad. So Sad. You cannot teach an 18 year old to value information, to think in the future, to be honest, to think outside their own immediate clan, to respect others. By 12th grade they either have these attributes or they don’t and they can’t help the way they don’t feel.

    These things are instilled by grades 4 to 10. If the school (parent) will not impose this, I can’t help them much. Good Schools Do. OUSD doesn’t.

  • David

    “Student loan market created a tuition bubble rivaling the housing bubble. When banks and government subsidize markets the average American gets an education in debt serfdom. For profit schools dominate the Pell Grant market.”

    http://financemymoney.com/student-loan-market-college-loans-for-profit-education-pell-grants-debt-educational-outcomes-bubble-in-higher-education/