Press Release

OAKLAND, CA (October 31, 2011) – Today, in coordination with a broad range of advocacy organizations, the Education Trust—West, releases Turning Back the Clock: The Inequitable Impact of Shortening California’s School Year. The policy brief highlights research findings that confirm the critical importance of increased classroom time for improved student achievement, particularly for students in poverty and discusses the negative impact of decisions made to shorten California’s school year.

“Our policymakers have long applauded themselves for ensuring that California has some of the most rigorous academic standards in the nation,” said Arun Ramanathan, Executive Director of The Education Trust—West, a statewide education advocacy organization that works to close the gaps in opportunity and achievement for students of color and students in poverty. “All California’s students, including the more than fifty percent of our students who are low income and our 1.3 million English Learners, deserve a full opportunity to learn those standards and perform on grade level. As a state with some of the widest achievement gaps and lowest student performance in the nation, reducing learning time in our schools should not be an option.”

As the report illustrates, over the past several years, California’s policymakers have made the inequitable decision to systematically reduce the amount of instructional time that our school districts are required to provide. Under AB 114 signed into law by Governor Brown earlier this year, school districts are allowed to shorten the school year by up to seven additional days if and when state revenues fall short of projections. This could potentially result in California’s districts having the shortest school year in the nation.  With the State Controller recently reporting lower state revenues, it appears more and more likely that these mid-year cuts will happen. Once again, our highest need students, including English learners and students from low-income families, will suffer the inequitable impact of state budget cuts as their learning time is taken away.

“The clock is ticking,” Ramanathan continued.  “We are quickly approaching the day when districts around the state will once again consider cutting days off the school year.  Our students deserve both the opportunity and time necessary to achieve their dreams of college and career.  We call on the governor and the legislature to protect the rights of our children and prevent these harmful and inequitable cuts to the school year.”

To read the full report, click here.

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 About The Education Trust—West

The Education Trust—West works for the high academic achievement of all students at all levels, pre-k through college. We expose opportunity and achievement gaps that separate students of color and low-income students from other youth, and we identify and advocate for the strategies that will forever close those gaps.