Education takes a licking

Especially hurt are those populations that need help the most--including adult students.  The L.A. Times has a nice overview.

A year ago, higher-education budgets across the nation were trimmed $1.2 billion. The expected cuts this year: $5 billion.

"They've long since been cutting deep into the bone," said Michael Leachman of the nonpartisan Center on Budget Policies and Priorities, based in Washington.

At least 22 states have scaled back K-12 funding and at least 24 have made cuts in higher education for fiscal year 2012, the center found.

To cover such shortfalls, experts say, school officials often reduce, or eliminate, personnel and programs vital to the most vulnerable populations: lower-income and minority students.

In California, many school districts cut spending for adult education, libraries, textbooks, arts and music, gifted students, tutoring for low-performing high school students and other programs, according to two major surveys, including one by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office. Many districts shortened the 180-day school year by five days.

"These are extraordinarily inequitable cuts for low-income communities of color," said Arun Ramanathan, executive director of the Education Trust-West, an Oakland-based advocacy group.

He said that a shorter academic year and cuts to summer classes exacerbate their generally lagging achievement because many low-income students cannot afford the enriched activities enjoyed by their middle-class counterparts, such as museum visits and private tutoring.

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