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Proposed cut in California school days alarms educators

January 7, 2009 | 11:38 am

Educators are alarmed over a proposal by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to lop five days off the school year, a cut that would save the state $1.1 billion.

A Schwarzenegger spokesman said the proposal, which would take effect in the 2009-10 school year if approved by the Legislature, was suggested by school district leaders in the fall as a less painful cut than some others.

But this week, state Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell labeled the proposal "devastating.” Pasadena Unified Supt. Edwin Diaz noted that while some wealthier districts can dip into reserves to fund the five days, his cash-strapped district cannot afford to.

Schooling requirements are set by the states, and California requires 175 days of instruction, although an annual fiscal incentive created in 1983 means most districts actually have 180 days. If Schwarzenegger’s proposal goes forward, California would join Kentucky, North Dakota and six other states that do not require children to be in school for at least 180 days.

Many nations require far more; Indian and Chinese students spend weeks more in the classroom every year.

--Seema Mehta

Follow this link for full coverage of the reaction to the governor's education proposal.

Photo credit: Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times