It’s hard to put a price on a well-rounded education, but the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) has a plan that is putting a price on eliminating enrichment programs for our students. San Diego Education Association (SDEA) made it clear they want student enrichment programs protected with San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) threatening massive cuts in the 2017-2018 school year. Members and parents spoke directly to community members and local school board members in their thirty-minute press conference, opposing what they believe is an economic overreaction to preliminary budget projections that have SDUSD Superintendent Cindy Marten unnecessarily calling for the layoff of 850 positions, including visual and performing arts and 137 physical education teachers throughout the district in the coming school year.
SDEA Vice President Kisha Borden explained her concerns about the lack of input or foresight, stating, “The district has made these decisions without speaking to educators, parents, or students about what they need or don’t need. We are the ones at the schools every day, working with students, supporting students and giving everything to ensure our students succeed. The individuals at Normal Street [SDUSD headquarters] don’t know our students…We know our students.”
Hage Elementary School teacher Adam Goldstein described their education goal “…to engage the whole child with academic and enrichment subjects. That’s why Art, Music, and P.E. need to be a part of our daily curriculum.” He also denounced the superintendent’s decision to cut more than one out of every eight instructional positions as a move that takes SDUSD backward; “If we want creative, confident kids with dynamic minds- not just good test-takers- enrichment programs are not optional, they are necessary.”
San Diego parent Carol Kim, whose two children attend local schools, explained how enrichment programs have articulated lessons with core subjects to give students a deeper understanding of concepts. Her daughter’s description of a lesson acted out in her P.E. class that had students skipping and walking while learning about the circulatory system helped her five-year-old understand a complex system as they exercised. She urged the superintendent to “…reconsider the decisions you’ve been making regarding the budget.”
SDEA Executive Director Carlos Mejia raised concerns about reclassifying administrators and further departmentalization- decisions that draw resources from frontline educators. “There needs to be a change in dynamic thinking in where you invest those resources.” Mejia also stated that decisions “…are being made behind closed doors without any input from parents, educators, or any other stakeholders.”
On Tuesday, February 28, San Diego Unified School Board will meet to make preliminary decisions about the 2017-2018 SDUSD budget.