The April 21, 2010 open letter from the Wonderland Avenue Parent Teacher Association highlights the very issue that Governor Schwarzenegger and I, as California Secretary of Education, fight for - ensuring all children have access to quality education.
No one will argue that California has not sustained previously unthinkable cuts to vital services as a result of plummeting state revenue from the nationwide recession. After overcoming a more than $60 billion budget deficit last fiscal year, California now faces a $20 billion deficit. Despite this, the Governor is committed to protecting education; proposing to fully fund education at last year's levels. In fact, out of our total $85 billion budget, education is set to receive $50 billion.
While funding is important, we must reform the very culture of education in California, which has for too long failed too many of our neediest students. All students, regardless of zip code, deserve the same support and access to quality education as the students of Wonderland Avenue Elementary School. The Governor last week announced a groundbreaking legislative reform measure - SB 955 - that will help ensure that classrooms are filled with effective teachers by giving school districts the flexibility to make staffing decisions based on ability, not just seniority.
Our budget problems are not new and the Governor cannot fix them alone. We must establish a rainy day fund to stop the roller coaster ride for schools year to year. I encourage all Californians to reach out to our state legislators and urge them to implement the meaningful reforms contained in SB 955, protect education funding and fix the state budget system once and for all.