By Paula A. Phillips, President, Council of Classified Employees

Every CFT member can play a role in the CFT’s campaign for quality public education, which will identify problems that are holding back our schools and colleges and set goals to move California forward.

A quality public education starts with adequate funding to maintain staffing levels and professional development. That’s a tall order in times of budget cuts, but with the passage of Prop. 30, fair funding will be within reach if Sacramento shows some political courage.

For five years, administrators have responded to budget shortfalls by cutting classified employees. They don’t see a down side because, in their minds, teachers are the direct link to students. But as staffs shrink, more of the work we do is pushed onto remaining staff members, onto teachers, or goes undone. The result is that student learning suffers.

Maintenance is a prime example. Administrators tell custodians to spot-mop nightly, but only full-mop once a week. Meanwhile, teachers are told to stack chairs at night, but aren’t told about the change in mopping. The result is resentment between educators and lowered standards of cleanliness.

Staff cuts in school offices are another example. Assigning parent-volunteers to help with filing can create legal problems by exposing confidential information about student medications or eligibility for free lunches based on financial need.

Make no mistake: Our society’s growing economic gap is at the heart of declining student achievement in schools with a higher percentage of low-income students. Poor kids miss opportunities for educational enrichment every day. Fair funding can reverse that trend and give all students the quality education they deserve!