Last month, during California’s desperate attempt to close its $24-billion dollar budget gap, countless programs were thinned out or altogether slashed. Among the mind-numbing list of cuts, however, was a dramatic reduction in state spending for textbooks — a decision that automatically puts kids in California schools at an educational disadvantage. Here’s what the Los Angeles Times reports:
The state Board of Education won’t approve new books for kindergarten through eighth grade until January 2016 at the earliest, and districts have postponed approvals of new high school books as well. A state requirement that districts purchase books within two years of adoption has been waived until 2013.
The reasoning behind the decision, it sounds, is survival based:
Additionally, state funding previously earmarked solely for textbooks — nearly $334 million this year — can now be spent by school districts for other needs over the next four years, providing flexibility that educators say is essential at a time of severe budget reductions. (via Los Angeles Times)
In contrast to California’s vanishing textbook funds, BJD Resourcing — a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers subcontractor — was awarded $837,000 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds to rid the L.A. River Basin of its graffiti. Now it’s obvious these two examples are completely unrelated. But they beg the question of priorities in budget spending. Sure, buffing the L.A. River Basin has afforded BJD Resourcing the luxury of hiring new staff (eight people according to Jeff Vaughn, BJD’s project manager) and ticking down the unemployment rate by some finite percentage. But given L.A.’s reputation as home to some of the world’s most prolific graffiti artists, the freshly painted walls will no doubt be crushed with new tags and pieces in no time. Which makes you wonder: Why spend the money in the first place?
Author’s note: During its stimulus-funded clean up, BJD Resourcing painted over legendary graffiti artist Saber’s famed L.A. River Basin Masterpiece, which held a prominent place in American/world history as a Guinness Book World Record holder for largest graffiti piece ever painted. (I know, “Boo hoo,” said the graffiti-hating masses, but we can have the art vs. crime conversation another day.) See before/after images below.