Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools David W. Gordon joined State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell and other education leaders in a press conference on July 8 to highlight the effect of budget cuts to education on summer school programs across the state.
"As educators, it is our duty to ensure that all students succeed, whether those students are high flyers or those needing extra help. As legislators, it is their duty to ensure that all students have the tools necessary to succeed," Superintendent Gordon said.
School districts across the Sacramento region and the state were forced to eliminate or drastically reduce summer program offerings this year. Many districts are limiting summer school instruction to students needing help passing the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) or students with special instructional needs.
"Some districts that offer summertime intervention programs for English learners cannot afford to keep their classrooms open. Even schools that are just scaling back what they offer will begin offering classes only to students who need to complete courses in order to graduate. This means that students looking to get ahead or improve their grade point average will not be able to do so," O'Connell said.
According to information gathered from local districts, summer school enrollment in Sacramento County has been drastically reduced. Sacramento City Unified School District summer school programs are 30% less compared to past years. Summer courses are limited to students who need to make up credit or have not passed the CAHSEE. Middle school and elementary courses in the district have been limited to students who score at basic or below on standardized tests. Nearly all enrichment classes in Sacramento City Unified have been eliminated due to funding cuts.
In the Elk Grove Unified School District, only students who need help passing the CAHSEE are being served, as are those who need English-language arts and math intervention, or to make up credit. Summer school courses have been reduced by roughly 40-percent.
In the Folsom Cordova Unified School District, an estimated 200 students are being denied enrichment courses this summer. Because these students cannot take rigorous, required classes this summer they will have to take them during the school year and might be forced to drop extracurricular activities as a result.
The impact is statewide. The San Diego Unified School District has cut elementary summer school for grades K-5, except Special Education. The Long Beach Unified School District is only offering remedial summer school while its elective summer school courses have been significantly curtailed.
"We are struggling but the children are the ones who are struggling the most," said Paul Chatman, President of the California School Board Association.
"We are choosing not to invest in our children. We are choosing not to invest in education. We are choosing not to invest in our children's health and welfare," said Pat Dingsdale of the California State PTA.
Also participating in the event: Cynthia Clark, Principal of McClatchy High School, Dana Dillon of the California Teachers Association, and Dean Murakami, President of the Los Rio College Federation of Teachers-AFT Local 2279.