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Who Asked Us: Gov.'s Plan to Cut California School Days is Dangerous

YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia , Commentary, Will Hawk Posted: Jan 25, 2009

Editor's Note: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed to shorten the 180-day California school year by five days in order to help with the large budget deficit. Will Hawk, a 16-year-old student at the San Francisco charter school City Arts and Technology, thinks that the last thing the American education system needs is less school. Hawk is an intern with YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia.

Along with the rest of the country, California is facing yet another economic dive facing a deficit of some $15 billion this year. We will face major problems in the near future unless we can stop hemorrhaging money and get out of the debt we have put ourselves in.

Because of all the other big news of the last week especially the inauguration a surprisingly ignored headline has been the plan by our governator to cut five days from the public school year in order to save up to $1.1 billion a year, according to figures from the Children Now 2009 school report card. The plan will save money by removing five days of salary for every faculty member, and in the general infrastructure of schools power, water, etc.

Im frankly kind of shocked that this is not a story that everyone knows about. Part of the problem, I think, is that people are divided as to whether this is or is not a good course of action. Some would say that it is a good thing because it is a resourceful way to get a lot of money back into the budget for seemingly little sacrifice. But I think that this is not an acceptable way to loosen the budget. There are a lot of other places from which the state administration could take a small amount of funding, adding up to equally great, if not greater savings. Things we could cut could be, say, the salary of the high officials, or the budgets of police in extremely low crime areas, or perhaps even getting rid of tax breaks for the rich.

Now, I think that I am far enough along in my school experience to not be heavily affected by the cut, but I worry about how it will effect kids only a few years behind me. Five days less will have an effect on us, even if we dont notice it at first. It might be less time to study for a test, or to work on a project, or to apply for college, but there is no cause without an effect. In fact, I think what we need is a longer school year.

It is well known that America has been slipping in a number of important worldwide standings since the 90s and 80s, including health care, assets, debt, and education, and I believe our leaders are to blame for this. Relating to education, it is not stupid kids or TV or video games that have brought down our statistics. It is the fact that nearly every other country, including many so-called second or third world countries, have school years that often stretch nearly twice as long as ours.

Our current public school schedule was created when America was, for the most part, an agrarian society. At this time, it was important that kids could be free to help on farms or in other endeavors, hence the shorter school year. But now that only 1 in 100 people is a farmer, this system has become obsolete. The problem is that it is so ingrained in our society that we will be unable to suddenly make the change to a longer school year without an uproar of both students and parents.

All this explains why I am frightened by the precedent that will be set if we dont stop officials from going through with this. Sure, five days of school is fairly negligible, but if the government thinks that this is an easy way to save money in hard times, then cutting school might become their go-to stratagem and that could have unbelievable consequences for the future of our nation. Theyve already cut our arts, music and extracurricular programs. But when it comes to just cutting out actual school time, I think we should just say 'no.'

Related Articles:

School Matters: Seven Years of No Child Left Behind Were Enough

Black Media Briefed on Achievement Gap for Black Students

California's Teachers Too Few, Too Unprepared

School Boards Launch Many California Politicians' Careers

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