Governor's budget gets an F

If they had to give it a grade, many parents in the Glendale Unified School District think Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed budget for the 2008-09 year deserves an F.

So they are participating in the California State PTA's “Flunk the Budget” advocacy initiative, which seeks to prevent the proposed budget from becoming a reality. The PTA's statewide campaign asks concerned parents to reach out to their state legislators through letters, calls and visits, and to hold regular rallies on Fridays to raise awareness about the gravity of the proposed cuts to education.

The governor's budget calls for cutting education funding next year by more than $4 billion statewide. A cut of that magnitude would require suspending Proposition 98, a 1988 ballot measure that guaranteed a minimum amount of state funding for education.

Parents held their first local “Flunk-the-Budget Friday” event early Friday morning at Mountain Avenue Elementary School. Members of the Glendale Council PTA distributed telephone scripts to the parents, teachers and school district staff members who had assembled, and asked that they call their elected representatives in the state legislature to express their opposition to the cuts to education.

“We don't accept a budget that doesn't value children,” said Patty Scripter, a Glendale Council PTA board member and vice president for legislation of the PTA's first district, which stretches from Burbank to Pomona.

For years, parents in California have raised money to enrich the offerings at public schools that are underfunded by the state, Scripter said. But a cut of about $4.4 billion would take more money out of schools than parents could ever replace, she said.

“There's not a fundraiser big enough to backfill that kind of cut,” she said.

Glendale Council PTA President Liz Arnold urged parents to pick up their cell phones and call their legislators, and to keep calling until they got through.

Parent Holly Stauffer called state Sen. Jack Scott's office and received a machine on the other end because the office hadn't opened yet.

“I'll call back and talk to a human,” she said.

The local PTA will hold Friday rallies at schools throughout the district regularly in the coming months, Arnold said. The next rally will be held at Glenoaks Elementary School on Friday morning.

In addition to the calls and rallies, the Glendale Council PTA has been amassing letters from parents to distribute to state senators and assembly members that represent the towns and areas that feed into the Glendale Unified School District. More than 3,000 letters have been collected so far, Arnold said, and will be delivered in the coming weeks.

“This budget fails the basic test of good governance because it hurts our children,” Arnold said.


?ANGELA HOKANSON covers education. She may be reached at (818) 637-3238 or by e-mail at angelahokanson@latimes.com.

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