As the economic crisis continues, states and school districts are playing a cruel game of "pick your poison." To close budget gaps, administrators are forced to choose from painful cost-cutting measures that include slashing programs, firing teachers and closing schools.
TakePart assembled a list of March's 10 most painful education cutbacks.
10. Pulling the Plug on Sesame Street: After the House voted to end funding for public broadcasting, the human stars of Sesame Street headed to Capitol Hill in protest. Beloved actors Emilio Delgado (Luis), Roscoe Orman (Gordon), and Bob McGrath (Bob) delivered petitions beseeching the Senate to fully fund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which brings educational programming into the homes of millions of children.
9. Classroom Squeeze: Despite the push from parents and teachers to keep class sizes small, budget cuts forced districts nationwide to fill classrooms to capacity. In Los Angeles, the average 11th- and 12th-grade English and math classes have 43 students. Many districts are projecting further classroom size increases for the fall.
8. North Carolina to Close No. 2 School: Academy Heights Elementary is ranked the second-best K-5 school in North Carolina. A 98 percent pass rate on state exams is not enough to prevent the school from closing its doors next year to help narrow an $8.2 million budget gap.
7. Deaf School Dilemma: St. Francis DeSales is one of 11 state-funded schools serving disabled children in New York. This school for the deaf is on the verge of closing thanks to Governor Cuomo’s plan to slash state funding.
6. Ending Child Care Subsidies: To address its $90 million shortfall, New York City’s Administration for Children's Services announced that 200 children could lose their subsidized day care at the end of the month. Another 16,000 could lose theirs in September.
5. Providence School Closures: Mayor Angel Taveras of Providence, Rhode Island, announced that as many as 70 teachers could be laid off under a plan to close four underperforming elementary schools. The school closings will save the district more than $12 million.
4. Boston School Closures: In order to address a $63 million budget gap, Boston’s school district plans to close or merge more than a dozen of its schools. The U.S. Department of Education is currently investigating a complaint that the plan discriminates against black and Latino students who will be disproportionately affected by the closures.
3. Head Start Funding on the Chopping Block: House Republicans introduced a bill this month to reduce Head Start funding by $2 billion—nearly a quarter of President Obama’s 2011 budget request. The comprehensive preschool program provides education, health and nutrition services to low-income children and their families.
2. New Jersey Shortchanges Neediest Kids: When Governor Chris Christie slashed his state’s education budget by nearly 20 percent, crucial services for disadvantaged students began to disappear. Lawyers representing the state’s poorest districts went to court, and Judge Peter Doyne agreed that the funding cuts caused disproportionate harm to at risk kids.
1. Pink Slips Galore: To close California’s $27 billion budget deficit, school districts issued over 19,000 pink slips earlier this month. Schools have until May 15 to issue final layoff notices.
Photo: Travelin’ John/Creative Commons via Flickr.
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