California has sent nearly 20,000 pink slips to educators to indicate that they may not have a job come fall.
Tom Torlakson, California's Superintendent of Public Instruction, says the notices reflect a financial emergency. But unions the pink slips are a scare tactic to push austere measures including furloughs and pay cuts.
Cost cutting measures are also being seen in dramatic increases in class size, chopping of adult education programs and decreased funding to pre-school and Head Start programs.
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San Francisco Chronicle: More than 20,000 California teachers pink-slipped
More than 20,000 public school teachers in California opened their mailboxes over the last few days to find a pink slip inside as districts met the state's Thursday deadline for dispensing the dreaded news to the educators that they may not have a job in the fall.
The layoff notices are preliminary, the districts' best guess at the amount of money they will get to educate kids next year after the Legislature concludes its annual budget fight this summer. But a proposed tax measure on the November ballot offers more uncertainty than usual.
Districts won't know until two months into the new school year whether voters will approve a tax increase that would prevent a $4.8 billion trigger cut to education funding, as proposed in the governor's budget.
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ABC7 Los Angeles: Pink slips sent to more than 20,000 teachers
Unions say the notices are bad for morale, accusing the school districts of using a scare tactic to prod employees into giving concessions such as furloughs and pay cuts. United Teachers Los Angeles and LAUSD are currently in arbitration over furloughs that would save the district $60 million.
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Also, billions of dollars in education funding depend on three initiatives proposed for the November ballot. They would raise sales taxes, income taxes or possibly both.
Unfortunately for teachers, California voters have a history of rejecting tax increases.
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News10 Modesto: Thousands of teachers receive pink slips across state
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Hundreds of teachers in Los Angeles have protested against government plans to cut millions of dollars from the education budget and lay off thousands of teachers, Press TV reports.
"One forth of teachers in LA Unified (School District) have received the pink slips. That completely demoralizes the staff. This school board does not respect its own employees and does not respect this community," Jose Lara, a protesting teacher, told Press TV.
Teachers, who say the layoffs will destabilize schools and inflict severe emotional turmoil on employees, have called on officials to be more realistic about ways to cut costs.
"If the district would go ahead and actually lay off 9,900 people, it would destroy this district and will destroy education in Los Angeles," Warren Fletcher, a member of United Teachers Los Angeles, told our correspondent.