Last year we saw the private sector get hit hard with a stream of layoffs that sent the economy into a downward spiral. Now this year we are seeing the ramifications of that in the public sector. Here in California, it’s evident in the new state budget proposal.
In an attempt to drag California out of the red, the governor and his team have made aggressive budget cuts across the board. The most significant cuts were directed at the public school system, which is the largest yearly expenditure. It’s no secret that California is in bad situation financially. The state has always been a “boom or bust” type of place where big money can be made or lost in the blink of an eye. So it’s hardly surprising that the California economy has slumped a bit and is now dealing with the consequences on a policy level.
This month we heard the news of numerous pink slips waiting for government employees, we saw the proposal for the massive cuts to the education system that prompted large scale protests (and the resulting arrests of those protesters). As you may imagine…their pissed off.
Back in college, I watched my tuition rise over the years until it reached double what it started at. I also spent almost a year being unemployed due to this recession, so I sympathize…a bit. And don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely up for a good protest from time to time, especially when it’s about a cause as fundamental to our society’s well being, as education. In fact here in San Francisco it’s practically a daily occurrence like the 6pm fog or naked bicycling, but do we really expect it to make a difference?
Everyone knows you can’t run an organization, a government, or even your own finances with a negative balance for long. Regardless of how much we bitch and moan, the fact still remains. There’s no money left. So budget cuts HAVE to be made. Everybody knows it, but apparently it only seems like a good idea when it affects somebody else. We need to remind ourselves that we can’t buy what we can’t afford (unless you’re the Federal Government). So in this case everybody suffers. Let’s just hope we don’t have to start living within our means.
The really unfortunate thing about these cuts to education is that it widens the divide between the “haves” and the “have-nots”. As these schools get their funding cut further and further, the quality of the education they deliver drops. The result is that the rich kids get pulled out of public schools and placed into private ones with the lower to middle class kids stuck forced to fight over the remaining text books. It’s as if we are moving towards an education system that hopes to achieve even lesser levels of government involvement by receiving more of its funding from the private sector. It already feels like a “quality” education is only an option for those students who have parents willing to pay for it. Although with California being traditionally on the liberal side, I can’t imagine many people are gunning for a situation like this. But in a tough situation, this may be an unwanted side effect.
So with little in regards to alternative solutions, here’s to getting kicked in the teeth one more time by a down economy. Cheers!