ABC-7 News has a heartwarmer of a story tonight, about parents in the heart of high-tech Silicon Valley who have raised $1 million to save teachers’ jobs in the K-8 Cupertino Union School District (serving parts of Cupertino, Saratoga, San Jose, Sunnyvale and Los Altos) will require $3 million in new revenues by May 15 to save the 107 teachers who have recieved pink slips from receiving permanent layoff notices. By law, districts send preliminary notices on March 15, and permanent notices on May 15. The worry after May 15 is that teachers will begin looking for other employment, and may no longer be available if the district later rescinds a permanent notice — something we can do at any time between May 16 and the first day of school. If you are a teacher, how long would you wait before you started looking for other employment?
Melissa Neumann has twins in kindergarten and is one of the parents behind the grass roots campaign. She says if the teacher jobs are not restored, K-3rd grade classes will rise from 20 students to 30, threatening the quality of her children’s educations.
“It’s pretty impressive and actually we’re really proud, but the problem is we can’t stop, we have $2 million to go and only 25 days,” Neumann said.
I’m happy for Cupertino and proud of the parents for their amazing accomplishment, but I also worry that this news will raise false expectations in other communities that donation drives will get us out of the fix we’re in. Cupertino USD has 18,000 students and is located in an affluent, suburban area where most people attend public schools. San Francisco is similarly affluent, but has a far lower level of engagement in its public schools. Shame on us for that, but it is nevertheless a reality that school boosters must confront. Even though it shouldn’t be hard, it is a much bigger climb to raise $3 million in two months for public schools here than it is in Cupertino.
This is great for Cupertino, I guess, but doesn’t this follow the same problem raised for Serrano v. Priest and Prop 13? It seems to me that the original problem was with unequal funding among districts, which Prop 13 “fixed” by keeping all funding very low. Now each district is supposed to raise “extra” funds separately from what comes from Sacramento? Why doesn’t Cupertino just raise their property taxes to pay for this? (Oh, wait…)