Eduardo Vargas enrolled at East Los Angeles College in Monterey Park during the fall of 2011 looking to help his financially troubled family, but then found he had to wrestle with a problem he had not foreseen: a crippled community college system.
On same the July day in 2009 when President Obama held a prime-time press conference on health-care reform, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger tweeted a video of himself showing off a hunting knife. The symbolism wasn’t hard to discern: Schwarzenegger was about to sign one of the most austere funding packages the state had ever seen.
Parents manage a huge pile of details to guide their children’s education. What, then, happens when a recession hits, state education funding is drastically cut, class sizes reduced, parents are called upon to replace library staff and you’re worried that the teacher who provided crucial support for your special needs student may be laid off?
In the spring of 2008, Underwood was an eager and popular young assistant band director at a high school in Moreno Valley, a suburban enclave in Riverside County, but the first clouds of what would soon be called the Great Recession were gathering in New York — and were clearly visible to Underwood.
Four years ago California voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 30 and rescued public schools and community colleges from the Great Recession’s economic free-fall. But the measure is scheduled to expire at the end of 2018, which could again place the state’s still-wobbly public schools on the edge of a fiscal precipice.
This new series examines how a ballot measure rebuilt the state’s public education system — and what’s at stake in November.