Public Education Here Remains an Orphan

A few weeks ago I had occasion to be in Los Angeles, which brought the opportunity to read The Times. On the Editorial Pages (Dec. 27), Cary Lowe argues, and properly so, for more adequate support for school facilities in California.

I must nonetheless quarrel with the first paragraph of his article. A "renewed commitment to financing public education?" I don't see it. Millions from the lottery? We haven't received a penny yet, and when we do it will amount to less than 2% of our annual budget--and the governor includes this funding in his "increase" for public education. Dramatic pay increases for top teachers-- read Lowe's fine print and you find this is a "proposal." Financial incentives for students to stay in school--another "proposal."

The fact is that public education in California remains an orphan. The fifth wealthiest state in the nation is below average in its support of the schools; our average class size places us below virtually any other state in the nation.

Yes--we need to worry about more adequate facilities. We also need to worry about recruiting and training teachers for the future. We need to worry about implementing in the state budget the priority that citizens hold for public schooling. Money will not guarantee an adequate school system, but a lack of resources is very likely to undercut efforts to strengthen our schools.



Calfee is president of the Palo Alto Unified School District Board of Trustees.

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