Last week a group called Fight Crime: Invest in Kids released “Pay Now or Pay Much More Later,” a report on proposed cuts in California to early childhood education. Research supports the idea that the less we invest in early education in vulnerable communities, the more young people will end up in the mass incarceration system described by Michelle Alexander in The New Jim Crow.
“The Governor’s proposed 2012-2013 budget would cut preschool spending by $180 million by eliminating 17,000 slots for low-income 3- and 4-year-olds and reducing per student funding, after $70 million and another 17,000 slots were already cut in 2011. In the nine-county Bay Area, up to $155 million in proposed preschool and transitional kindergarten cuts would impact up to 24,000 children.”
Here is a chart that speaks a thousand words on our state’s priorities. Police chiefs and district attorneys started the organization that put out this report – not just educators, the police are asking the state not to cut early ed funding.
There are proposed cuts to K-12 education overall. At nearby San Leandro High, three student went on a hunger strike this month to voice their opposition to budget cuts: “The seniors started the strike the day after the school board approved $1.4 million in cuts. The district also has a contingency budget to slash an additional $2.5 million if voters in November do not approve a state tax measure that would bolster school funding. That contingency plan would further reduce staff and eliminate sports and music programs, among other cuts.” [Oakland Tribune]
Prisoners in California have also been hunger striking to protest inhumane prison conditions.