I am writing on behalf of the over 300 classroom teachers in LUHSD who are members of the Liberty Education Association. We work together with another 230 classified, confidential, and classified management professionals to provide a comprehensive education to our area high school students.
I feel that we should applaud the efforts of the hundreds of professionals working in our school district every day who educate the children of our community.
Many amazing things are happening in our district. Here are just a few:
Recently, I visited a classroom right after lunch at one of our area high schools. The teacher was sharing her own lunch with her students because the students didn’t have any lunch that day. Another teacher stocks her classroom daily with food for her students who are less fortunate.
Heritage High will be hosting a regional robotics tournament soon. Freedom High varsity cheerleaders took first place at a national competition last spring. Liberty High’s TLC Academy has 36 students working as interns at local elementary, middle and high schools as they prepare for a teaching career. One of our English teachers has published a textbook about learning strategies and life planning; it is now being used in schools across the country.
The performing arts and music programs at all of our comprehensive sites continue to be top notch. Independence High will be hosting a Poetry Out Loud competition, and La Paloma High continues to serve its students well. Vocational Education and ROP courses are running strong throughout our district as well. All of our schools are committed to providing the best support to English language learners as well as special education students in our district.
Although a high-quality education is provided by our school district, education funding is still below the minimum level needed to ensure the best education possible. Statewide, public school funding has been slashed by 18 percent over the past two years. Our students’ teachers have always been known to make up the difference when funds may be lacking. On average, teachers spend several hundred dollars per year out of their own pockets to ensure their students receive the best education possible.
Currently, $11 billion is owed to California schools from Proposition 98 and we get IOUs from the governor. It is very difficult to purchase textbooks and classroom materials, provide school lunches, keep classroom sizes manageable and our campuses safe with IOUs. California is the only remaining state in the nation to still lack a budget, and it has been a district-wide challenge for all concerned.
Despite significant lack of funding, performance on state tests continues to improve. District wide, our API scores have increased 45 points over the past three years. Similarly, over the past four years, the number of students earning proficient and advanced scores on the California Standards Tests has increased in the areas of math, English, science and history.
This year, budget shortfalls have forced us to cut out three instructional days that our students could have used. Further, we have lost counselors and librarians, and class sizes in ninth-grade math and English have increased significantly. Funding for clubs and some academic programs has also been eliminated.
Personally, I feel we have squeezed all the blood out of this turnip, and there isn’t much more room to cut while still expecting growth and success in our classrooms. In November we must come together as a community and vote for candidates and propositions to restore education funding and efforts to a respectable, sustainable level.
In light of the many challenges that are facing our schools, I am proud to be a teaching professional alongside the hundreds of others in LUHSD who are working to provide a relevant and rigorous education to our future generations. I look forward to providing a meaningful and memorable education again this year, and I am honored to be a part of the work force that educates over 7,300 high school students in our district.