Shortchanging our Students. Shortchanging our Future.

Article that prompted this: Shortchanging Students

Classes with 40+ students in them, with teachers that can only make 1,000 copies per month (that’s about 12 copies per kid, per month, front and back), broken furniture for the students to sit on…these are all the cherry on top of a struggling school.

That’s the image that needs to be shown, and I’m wondering why it’s not?

This year, massive cuts were made in many states, Texas as well, to the education system. A number of lay offs have already taken place, and many vital programs, that have shown to be effective, were cut or severely underfunded, like many pre-K programs in Texas. Why?

Because we just can’t afford them with the growing state budget crisis. For example, this year, the state legislature allowed Texas schools to open up to our students 4 billion dollars underfunded. Now some districts are thinking about measures to place fees on riding the bus or attending pre-K to make up some ground. But thank god we have our 10 billion dollar rainy day fund in tact, great job Gov. Perry, on your “highest priority”. 

Every day in my class, I teach my jaded 9th grade students, already facing the constant stream of gang-violence, teen pregnancy, drug use, and shockingly poor literacy that have become the hallmark of urban schools, that anything is possible if you have an education. If they put their heads down, work hard, and feed their minds, they will get where they want to go. After all, I was raised to believe that people can take anything and everything from you, except your education, and that will build you back up.

But the state legislature is making that a lie for my students, and others like them.

Wake up. Elementary, middle, and high school are not like college. 30+ students do not just come in to class ready to take notes and learn. They talk, they play, they get up and walk around, etc. because, news flash, they’re kids. And as a teacher, it is my job to maintain an academic, well managed classroom while still teaching a fun and interesting lesson about the scientific method. With the massive cuts we are facing–teachers are getting laid off, class sizes are getting bigger, and necessary teaching resources are getting smaller–it’s getting more and more difficult to properly educate the future generation.

Much of this could have been side stepped had the policy-makers not been too afraid of dipping into rainy day funds and raising state taxes. Amazingly, the opposite happened…taxes were cut in many state, and pledges were made to “balance the budget” with tax cuts alone, and no increase in spending. I’m sorry, that logic just does not add up.

What does add up is that extremists, like the Tea Partiers, have now got state law makers running scared, and spewing lies to the publics about how no increases in spending will actually help in a time like this, and pull us out of the dark abyss of debt. So instead, law makers are short changing our students, our future.

Without properly educating a large part of this generation, the poorest of our students, how to we ever hope to close the gap of education inequity? By slashing funding for important education initiatives and programs, how do we ever hope to instill the value of education in students, so they can actually be whatever they want to be? By firing teachers and increasing class sizes, how do we ever hope to create safe, comfortable, and academic classroom environments?

I guess we don’t. After all, that burden will fall to our children.

[This was a very link heavy piece, because I am a quite passionate about it. To get the most accurate picture of what’s happening in many states, particularly in Texas, please read those articles. They are very informative]

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