In recent weeks school districts have rolled out doomsday budgets that call for hundreds of layoffs, larger class sizes, the elimination of sports and the end of glee club and cheerleading.
School boards say drastic cuts are needed to balance budgets if tax extensions proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown aren't put on the ballot by state lawmakers and approved by voters in June.
Will the cuts really play out as described? Or are educators choosing programs popular with parents so they will lobby lawmakers to put the tax measure to a vote?
Jonathan Raymond, superintendent of Sacramento City Unified, admits the decision to target sports programs was political. "The reality is that with athletics, people take notice," he said. "If it's the only thing to get people to step up and mobilize, it's worth it.
"Frankly, the public outcry is needed."