EDUCATION

California middle school losing funding because it has too many white students

Students in California classroom

Students in California classroom  (Reuters)

Having too many white students will cost a California middle school funding and imperil the jobs of some teachers and others.

Last week the Los Angeles Unified School District informed parents of students at the Walter Reed Middle School in North Hollywood that because the white population had exceeded 30 percent, it had to make cuts.

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Under provisions of a district policy, the school had qualified for additional funding, which enable the hiring of more teachers and having smaller classes, because it had a student body that  was 70 percent or higher of Hispanics, blacks, Asians and non-Anglos. However, in the last two years that percentage has fallen beneath the 70 percent level, meaning Walter Reed no longer qualified for those extra funds.

The announcement infuriated parents, who fear that class sizes will increase as the number of teachers and other school personnel decreases.

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The parental outcry prompted the district to modify its planned funding cut.

“A school qualifies for PHBAO status if 70 percent or more of its students who live within the school’s attendance boundary are identified as ‘Hispanic, Black, Asian, or non-Anglo,’” the letter from Local District Northeast Superintendent Linda Del Cueto stated.

 “Under a court-ordered integration program that has been in place since 1978, PHBAO schools qualify for smaller class sizes and additional positions. When a school no longer qualifies for PHBAO status, fewer positions are funded.”

And so, the district still is going to pursue some cuts, Del Cueto said, just not as many as it would have under the original plan. The superintendent noted that the nurse, librarian and counselor will not be cut.

Critics said it was racist and did more harm than good.

"When your class sizes are getting larger and you're taking resources away from students, I mean as parents, you do want your kid to go out to college," one parent, Rosemary Estrada, was quoted as saying to the local ABC News affiliate.

Another parent, Sheila Edmiston, said: "Thankfully we're going to keep our librarian. We're going to keep our nurse, but we may lose a few teachers, but not as many as we once thought.”

People who posted comments online were pointed about their thoughts about the racial quota system for funding.