As of tomorrow, 26,500 public school teachers in California and an additional 15,000 bus drivers, janitors, secretaries and administrators will have been handed pink slips, California Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell said.
The state has asked all 1,000 of California’s k-12 school districts to absorb more than $8 billion in funding cuts over the next year.
Those who were warned about losing their job are hoping that many of the layoff notices are withdrawn by June with some of the stimulus money.
To draw attention to the situation, staff, faculty members and parents wore pink clothes and waved pink protest signs yesterday for what California’s largest teachers union called “Pink Friday.”
O’Connell, who is thinking of running for governor next year, wore a pink tie yesterday to support the teachers, and said that schools would probably have to increase their class sizes, reduce library hours and lose counselors.
The director of a principal training program at the University of California, Berkeley, said, “What is happening in these schools when the pink slips go out is everything stops, everyone is discouraged, everyone is busy worrying whether the money will come through. All the efforts to get schools going basically grinds to a halt and remains ground to a halt for the rest of spring.”
Steve Chambers, 47, a 5th-grade teacher in the eastern Los Angeles suburb of Alhambra said although this is the third time he has gotten a pink slip, this is the first time that he has been truly worried, “The economy is so bad everywhere, I have little confidence that I would be able to find a teaching job elsewhere.”
Kathleen Tar, and English teacher for 33 years in Alhambra district said, “Every class will be at 36 students and no less. So, if we have honors classes that do not meet 36, those classes will go away.”