The Obama administration’s report Investing in Our Future: Returning Teachers to the Classroomdecries teacher cuts and program elimination across the country. It declares that a decrease in education spending at the state and district levels will lead to increased class sizes and less time in school. The report states these changes will adversely affect our already underserved minority populations. In response to the cuts, the administration is requesting $25 billion in stimulus for education to combat the cuts.
Click through the gallery to learn about the potential consequences of education budget cuts and what the Obama administration plans to do about it.
(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Why are states and districts cutting costs?
State and local governments, who provide 90 percent of funding for schools, are experiencing budget shortfalls because their tax revenue is less than expected and demographics are beginning to work against them. Workforce participation is at a decade low—we have the same number of people working as we did in 2000, despite our population growing by 30 million people. High youth unemployment and more baby boomers retiring every day have generated less tax revenue than most states anticipated (and more in government costs). The number of kids in school is roughly the same, but will begin to increase over the next two decades as the echo boomers have babies.
(Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Consequence #1: Cutting the Jobs of Great Teachers
Since the recession ended in 2009, 312,700 education jobs have been lost. That is a substantial education cutback when you consider only ten times as many private sector jobs have been added to the economy in the same amount of time. Cincinnati public schools, for example, cut 237 teaching jobs to cover their $43 million budget shortfall.
(Photo: Melanie Stetson Freeman/Getty Images)
Consequence #2: Increasing Class Sizes
The student-to-teacher ratio—total students to total teachers—is again at 16 to one, rising from 15.3 in 2008. The number of kids in each classroom is substantially higher. Elementary school averages 20.6 kids per class; in high school it increases to 24.1 students.
Most kids don’t want to go to summer school, but some kids may need it to keep on track. The report from the Obama administration cites multiple studies that found low-income students falling behind during summer months and stresses that keeping programs available for low-income students should be a priority.
(Photo: Christian Science Moniter/Getty Images)
Consequence #4: A Loss of Pre-K Education
According to the report, 26 of the 39 states with pre-school programs cut funding in 2010-2011. The administration sees these programs as vital for lower income students’ futures, citing the long-term benefits of early education: better test scores and higher lifetime earnings.
(Photo: The Washington Post/Getty Images)
Consequence #5: Shortening the School Year
Some districts are shortening the school year to save money. Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) voted to shorten its school year by five days, allowing it to save on over 80,000 employee salaries and the cost of running buildings.
Cutting days off the school year might give kids more summer time, but a week less of school is five days less of instruction. Even less when furloughs are factored in.
(Photo: Robyn Beck/Getty Images)
Obama’s Plan for More Teachers
President Obama has had hits and misses when it comes to education. His plan now is to call for teacher stabilization funds. “The president’s plan will invest $25 billion to support state and local efforts to retain, rehire, and hire early childhood, elementary, and secondary educators.” The federal government spends $45 billion on education discretionary spending already (not including Pell Grants), which covers roughly 10 percent of each state’s costs.
(Photo: Pool/Getty Images)
Romney, Ryan, and Republicans on Education
The Obama administration’s report claims House Republicans’ education plan would cut 20 percent from the Title I and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), eliminating 38,000 teachers aides and 27,000 special education teachers. Romney is more in favor of giving states block grants, allowing them and individual districts to make their own spending decisions. Ryan is a strong advocate for cutting the federal budget, including public education, over the next 10 years. The seven-term Wisconsin congressman is a strong critic of Obama’s educational policy, including his “Race To The Top” initiative, and he has called for slashing Pell grants, student loans, and job-training programs.
“Rather than relying on the federal government to ensure that students are given the capability to fulfill their potential, education ought to be governed by state and local boards more ably qualified to determine student need,” Ryan writes on his congressional website.