There have been so many cuts in the field of education, especially in my home state of Indiana. What do you think about job cuts in education? I am having a hard time accepting the thought that our children's futures are not valuable enough for proper funding. This is a very frustrating topic for me, so if you have some light to shed on this topic, I would love to hear what you have to say!
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I know from first hand experience how increasing class size affects students. At one time, I had 36 9th grade students in English. The failure rate in that class was way too high. But, how does one teacher get around and help each student who needs it without neglecting others? With smaller classes, I got to know my students on a more personal level and could interact with them in more meaningful ways. Knowing their parents and their expectations helps accomplish much. A nameless face in a crowd will not learn until the teacher-student connection is made.
I work for the Dept of Defense and we also experience federal as well as state budget cuts wherever it is that we are serving as teachers. One heavy blow for us was the cut in funding of the foreign language in the elementary school program RIGHT AFTER millions had been spent to implement it. In less time than it took to conduct the research, the lack of leadership and creativity of whoever was put in charge sent this awesome 21st century and globally-needed program which was helping children even in their native languages, down the drain. I was ashamed to see so much money being thrown away for no reason. I wonder how many positions could have been saved if it had not been for someone wanting to do an experiment and not knowing how to start nor finish it. It was horrid.
Budget constraints are wide-spread and, unfortunately, there are no simple answers. What works in one area or one district may or may not work in another. The contextual differences among schools and the communities in which they are situated are just too great. In some places, spending needs to be cut. In other places, taxes need to be increased. It just depends. Obviously, "living within our means" is not a concept that comes easily in our culture. However, we all--educators included--need to do some serious prioritizing and have some serious discussion about what is most important in our schools. For me, I have a very hard time swallowing teacher layoffs and absorbed positions while a brand new soccer field with artificial turf is built just outside my classroom window.
In most rural schools there is not a lot of areas to cut the budget. State funding formulas tend to favor the richer school districts, while small schools where the tax levy is at the minumum and no mhope of raising there aren't a lot of options.
In Canada, many full time teachers are choosing not to retire, which is causing a problem for teachers trying to get full time jobs. Some of the school boards are refusing to hire retired teachers for their substitute lists, so teachers who are not quite ready to leave the field are postponing retirement.
I have been told by many that the boards are hiring substitute teachers. However, they are cutting back on funding in other areas.
It seems that most states are suffering due to the same conditions. Communities, states, the nation does not seem to value education and teachers as much as they used too. Increasing state or national standards won’t improve things much, until government and communities (including parents) make major changes--including funding.
It is happening everywhere. Washington State faces more cuts next year and we are talking about RIFs (reduction in force) layoffs next year again.
I see three issues here.
1) Education is one of the largest expenses the states have, and so whenever you talk about budget cuts, it's an easy and obvious target.
2) There is some waste that should be cut first, but on a larger scale than mentioned in above posts. The money in the classroom is minimal, that is, cutting our cash for films and pencils doesn't save much, but the budget for the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction is massive. Aside from renewing my certificate every five years and administering the state exam, I don't know what they do. I think you could move the whole operation into a rented mobile home and cut the rest of the staff there without the schools noticing a thing.
3) We hate taxes. I don't know why, but we freak out about any tax. We'll spend four dollars on a Mocha Triple Shot Whipped Cream Extravaganza five times a week, but an extra $12 per month per household gets voted down. It's a little schizophrenic, but that's our culture.
It's happening everywhere. To me, the biggest frustration is that we are losing a generation of kids, education-wise. Teachers (if they choose to) can stay with the field, or come back to it,...but this is the only chance kids have to be a first grader or tenth grader, etc. It makes me sad to see outrageously large class sizes/small budgets, knowing that it's really the kids who are paying the biggest price.
Unless we're going to pay enough taxes to pay for everything, something has to give. I'm not working right now because the community college I teach for (part time) can't afford to pay part-timers right now.
But it's hard to complain. I mean, it's not like we can really say that education is more sacred than other areas. And it's not like we can say that it's so sacred that cuts can't be made.
I think we waste a lot of money in public ed as it is. At the CC we kept paying money to bring in speakers to lightly attended events, etc. When I was teaching HS before my kids were born we would pay for consultants who didn't hardly help us at all. Teams I coached would travel 200 mile round trips (we're rural) to play volleyball for about 3 hours total (all teams included)...
Sadly, we can't have it all.
I taught in Indiana for 10 years. They pay teachers a pittance compared to what East coast states pay. But, the facilities in the Midwest are superior. Yet, both areas are getting hit by the budget cuts, which makes me think that the big public school model is not a good business from either a Republican or Democratic-state. It's not the politics; it's the model.
From a business perspective, big public schools are bloated and wasteful. They lose money. They are not streamline for-profit corporations. So, lawmakers, in budget crises, are going to punish them for being so. It's inevitable.
We need to re-think the big public school model. A better partnership with colleges and specialty foundations needs to be addressed to better manage and finance schools.
The same thing is happening in Illinois. Job cuts for teachers are expected to be very high-somewhere between 17,000-20,000. I am lucky that I am not in danger of losing my job but I wonder what will happen to the thousands of teachers who will be out of work. Here in Illinois many state troopers are losing their jobs as well. It's scary!
I agree with Booksnmore in that it is a shame that the real suffers of this time period are the students who only have one shot at being a First Grader, etc. I teach in North Carolina which while not the hardest hit area has definitely taken some hits. Our pay has been frozen and in fact we had to give back 1% of our salary last year from our last paycheck. They have also raised class sizes, cut supplies, and eliminated some of the "fat" that the schools had. This coming year the school board is even talking about more cuts. I'm not sure what will happen but I trust in the fact that the economy will eventually get better and when it does the education system of America will slowly crawl out of where it falls. As teachers, all we can do is continue to passionately teach our students and make a difference in their lives each day.
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