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UCLA report details recession's impact on schools

San Diego Union Tribune - January 21, 2010

UCLA report details recession's impact on schools


THURSDAY, JANUARY 21, 2010 AT 1:53 P.M.

SAN FRANCISCO — Widespread teacher layoffs, larger class sizes and increased economic hardship for

children are among the impacts California's budget crisis and the recession have had on public schools and

students, according to a report released Thursday.

Researchers at UCLA's Institute for Democracy, Education and Access interviewed 87 elementary, middle and

high principals across California to gauge the impact of the recession and budget cuts on student welfare and

school learning environments.

Before the recession began, California K-12 public schools, which were among the nation's best in the 1960s,

already ranked near the bottom nationally in many measures of academic achievement and school quality.

The economic downturn and state budget crisis has undermined recent academic gains and widened the

disparity between schools in rich and poor communities, said John Rogers, the institute's director.

"It's taken California several steps backward on the road to improvement," Rogers said. "It's also harmed the

long-term prospects for California to rebuild a quality education system."

The report, called "Educational Opportunities in Hard Times," found that:

- 62 percent of principals reported that teachers in their schools had been laid off, threatened with layoffs or

reassigned to other schools. The number of actual layoffs was four times greater at schools in poorer

communities than wealthier communities.

- 67 percent reported that class sizes had increased, with 74 percent of elementary school principals reporting

larger class sizes.

- 75 percent reported that summer school had been reduced or eliminated.

- 75 percent reported reductions in instructional materials and supplies.

- 70 percent reported cuts to professional development programs.

- 67 percent reported growing housing insecurity, which includes homelessness, families moving in together

and families moving away for economic reasons.

- 51 percent reported an increase in the health, psychological or social service needs of their students.

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