Editorial

    Anybody admitted to UCSD ought to understand a simple truism of budgeting: If you have less money coming in, you should have less money going out.

    In California, we’ve seen this quite vividly in the past year; Gov. Gray Davis continues to propose budget cut after budget cut. Funds are being frozen, redirected and outright axed.

    Some of this is unavoidable. Some of it we have no choice but to live with.

    But some of it is just ridiculous.

    One of UCSD’s most successful projects is the development of the Preuss School. A charter school for youth from underrepresented ethnic and racial groups and poorly performing feeder schools in San Diego, the school attempts to give children a chance to attend high-powered universities such as UCSD — a chance they otherwise might not have.

    The Preuss School accomplishes this by hiring experienced and talented teachers, keeping class sizes below 30 students, extending the school year to over 200 days — the required year length by less than 190 — and extending the school day an extra hour. Such an operation costs money: In addition to per-pupil funds allocated by the state to all schools, the Preuss School receives $1 million per year as a state budget line item.

    Or, it receieved this $1 million.

    Davis reduced this line item by $422,000 in next year’s budget. This halving of the Preuss School’s state funding will cripple the school financially and prevent it from doing all the unique, and expensive, programs it operates that set it apart from other schools. There will no longer be an extended school year. The school day will be shortened. Other budgetary measures such as raising class size limits and cutting staff may be implemented.

    So who should care about this? Everyone should.

    The school has been wildly successful. Academic performance indexes and high school exit exam scores are well above those of the schools that Preuss School students would normally be attending (such as Crawford High School), and equaling or surpassing “”privileged”” schools such as Muirlands Middle School and La Jolla High School.

    Due to this success, the school has attracted national attention and is a model for charter schools being developed in other states.

    The Preuss School suggests that a major solution to California’s — and indeed the nation’s — education woes can be summed up in two words: more money. If you throw enough money at failing schools and spend it wisely, children will succeed no matter what race, ethnicity or class they “”belong to.””

    Davis has made no secret of the fact that he doesn’t like charter schools, but whether that’s motivated by genuine personal ideology or a play for support from teachers’ unions is unclear and irrelevant. The Preuss School is a school that works, and works wonders.

    Although $422,000 is a drop in the bucket in California’s budget, it means the world to the children at the Preuss School. Davis ought to look elsewhere to do necessary budgetary trimming.

    May we suggest pay cuts for state government bigwigs?

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