budget cuts

budget cuts

Technology in the Classroom Might Not Be the Answer

typingFor almost 100 years, people have been predicting the end of the use of textbooks in public schools. The cause for the decline of textbook use is often due to some new technology that will forever change classrooms.

For example, in 1913, Thomas Edison was a nay-sayer concerning the future of textbook use.

“Books will soon be obsolete in the schools,” he said. “Our school system will be completely changed in 10 years.”

Edison was talking about replacing textbooks with videos to teach students. Sure, we do use videos today in our classrooms, but textbooks are still the main source of information in most cases.

So, should we be surprised that many education leaders, such as U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, are now pushing for the use of laptops and digital books in the classroom? Using history as our source, the answer is no.

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Online Students Transfer to Traditional Schools but Leave Their State Funding Behind

girl working outside on a laptopMany online elementary and high schools in Colorado are failing to provide their students with a proper education, but tax payers are still spending $100 million on these programs this year. These tax dollars are also going towards paying for students who are no longer attending the schools.

This situation is bad for both the students who attend online schools and those who attend traditional schools. The online students are falling farther and farther behind their peers, while the traditional students are facing larger class sizes as online students transfer to traditional schools in order to find a higher quality of education. The traditional schools are also not receiving state funding to cover the expenses created by the influx of the online students because the virtual schools are keeping the state funding after the students leave.

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State of the Art High School Will Sit Empty

A brand new beautiful, state of the art, high school cost the state of California $105 million to build for an ever growing student population. Today, that much needed facility sits in Riverside with a fence around the perimeter. The building is empty but the problem is not a lack of students- they are eager to get in. Money, or the lack of it, is at the forefront of an educational debate, again.

A nearby high school houses nearly 3,400 students; 100 percent more people than the building was designed to accommodate. The class sizes are nearing the 40s and all parties involved realize this is not ideal. Teachers, students and district officials were all excited for their new high school but budget cuts will leave it empty for at least one year.

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Do Online High Schools Make the Grade?

With constant budget cuts to education, rising classroom sizes and increasing teacher layoffs it seems necessary to address the education crisis in America. Advocates of online learning believe guiding high school students towards internet schooling may be the answer to these problems. Those in opposition argue that online learning is not as effective as classroom learning but used to save money and increase graduation rates. Both sides of the debate are passionate and student experience is evaluated to answer the question; do online high schools make the grade?

The option for online learning is convenient for students who do not want to, or cannot, attend public schools. The coursework is conveniently organized for parents wishing to home school their students and for students not able to attend classes due to a varying spectrum of obstacles. Recently, students physically attending public school have been introduced to the online method. Many school districts, including Memphis City Schools, require their students to take at least one online course.

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School Nurses Disappearing Due to Budget Cuts

School nurses do more than try to figure out if a student is faking the flu. From scraped elbows and knees to eye and ear exams, they are there to aid in all sorts of health issues.

With all that they do, it comes with much surprise that they are disappearing from our public school system.

“Only 45 percent of the nation’s public schools have a full-time on-site nurse,” said Carol Mithers, an author at parenting.com. “Thirty percent have one who works part-time — often dividing her hours between multiple school buildings — and a full 25 percent have no nurse at all.”

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LA Superintendent Turns Down Pay Raise

john deasyJohn Deasy was appointed to the position of the superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District in January, and will take office on April 15. More than 5000 teachers and other school employees were laid off just a few weeks ago by the district. In light of the difficult budget cuts and layoffs, Deasy has requested to keep his pay level at his current salary.

“As such, given our current circumstances, at this time I respectfully will not accept the salary offered in your contract,” Deasy wrote in an email to school board members last week. The board has voted to make over $400 million worth of budget cuts. According to A.J. Duffy, president of the teachers union, Deasy’s current salary as the deputy superintendent is $275,000. The salary for the superintendent is $330,000 dollars annually.

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Proposed Budget to Cut Pell Grant Funding

With recent spikes in college tuition, students are in need of federal aid more than ever, but they may not get the amount they need. If the U.S. Senate passes a bill proposed recently by the U.S. House, the federal grant budget will be cut by 15 percent.

Education activists and many college students are incensed by the proposed budget cuts. They say that lawmakers need to get their priorities in order. They also say representatives in D.C. should do away with tax loopholes and subsidies for multimillionaires and corporations, instead of trying to balance the federal budget by cutting back college aid.

“The Pell Grants are the federal government’s cornerstone financial aid program that 9.4 million college students rely on each year to pay for the college courses that are fueling our recovering workforce and economy,” Rich Williams said, a higher education advocate with Illinois Public Interest Research Group. “Tough choices are supposed to come only after the easy ones. It’s difficult to imagine how cuts to Pell Grants happen before cuts to BP and Goldman Sachs. And yet that’s exactly what the House resolution does.”

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Congress Makes Temporary Budget Cuts to Education Programs

Fears loom over educators’ heads this week as the possibility of permanent budget cuts to several education programs comes closer to a reality. Over a dozen of high-profile education programs were cut from a stopgap spending measure after President Obama signed a two-week funding bill on March 2.

The bill, which extends to March 18, plans to keep the government operating while Republicans and Democrats try to come to an agreement in spending for the rest of the fiscal year.

Programs, like Teach for America, Even Start and Striving Readers, took heavy blows to their funding after Republicans insisted on cutting the Department of Education’s budget by nearly $750 million. The department’s most current arbitrary budget sits at $46.8 billion.

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Class Sizes Grow as Budgets Tighten

Class room with desksAs states struggle to balance their budgets, education will be affected on many levels. The protests in Wisconsin highlighted the grim reality of cut backs in teacher’s compensation and benefits, and now many states will be increasing class sizes.

Although there has been debate over whether or not smaller classes are better, the prevailing wisdom says that students who get more individual attention will perform better. In any case, increasing class sizes also increases teacher’s workload. “If you’ve gained five kids, that’s five more papers to grade, five more kids who need makeup work if they’re absent, five more parents to contact, five more e-mails to answer,” math teacher Rachael Maher told The New York Times. “It gets overwhelming.”

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6,100 New York Teachers Cut, Despite Tax Revenue Increase

By Stephanie VanderVelden

New York City maintains the largest public school district in the nation. Due to an unstable economy in recent years, it is not alarming that fat must be trimmed from some city service budgets. However, the news that over 6,100 teachers will be cut from public school instruction came as a shock to teachers in New York City.

Despite an estimated increase of over $2 billion dollars in tax revenue for the next two years, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has resolved to continue with teacher cuts. The immediate layoffs would leave 4,666 teachers out of a job. Another 1,500 public school teachers would be pushed out of the district over time. Losing this many teachers in New York City represents one out of every 12 teachers currently employed in the district.

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