Saturday, February 20, 2010

On Education Budget Cuts

Sorry, my dear friends, about my Debbie Downer post the other day. I have promised myself that I will remain positive and this whole deployment, and really try not to let stuff get me down. I just hate seeing Matt used and abused and forgotten about down there ... it just seems so stupid. More and more, I realize how disorganized the military is and, well, it just sucks!

Sadly ... I feel as though I have another Debbie Downer post for today. Wah wah. I spent my Friday night at a four hour-long school board meeting last night, as the board voted unanimously to cut several district-wide programs. Like many other states, Indiana is experiencing extreme budget cuts in the field of education - our small district alone is facing $4.2 million in cuts to our school district.

The board last night stressed that the cuts they voted for are across-the-board cuts. But ... that's just not true. The cuts made primarily affect at-risk students and elementary-aged students. Among the programs/people cut are:
  • The alternative high school, which will experience a huge reduction in force and be moved into an existing high school, completely changing the atmosphere and amount of kids being served
  • The Teen Learning Center (TLC), where students go to take GED classes, take online high school classes for credit recovery, etc.
  • All elementary and junior high librarians
  • Elementary strings/music programs
  • The Youth Outreach program - for at-risk junior high students
  • The Healthy Schools Coordinator, who - besides being a friend of mine, writes grants and creates programs to promote a healthy, drug-and-alcohol-free lifestyle for teens
  • An entire elementary school
  • 75 teachers across the entire district, including 10 teachers from each high school
Friends ... I am just ill over these cuts. My already at-risk students are losing so many other supports and programs. I am so worried. They need as much help they can get ... and at this point, the only program remaining is ... mine. I wish people like good old Mitch Daniels, the governor of Indiana, realized that they are setting my kids up for failure. The less supportive programs for at-risk kids, the lower the graduation rate. And the lower the graduation rate, the less money the schools receive. The less money the schools receive, the more cuts will occur next year. As it is, we've been informed that this is a three-year process, and next year the cuts will be far worse.

Cutting programs like music and librarians - well, now we are taking away programs that allow students to feel as though they have an identity within their schools. Many studies have shown that school disengagement starts as early as 4th grade. 4th grade! The more seemingly extraneous programs we cut, the less opportunities students have to find their niche ... and the more disengaged they will become.

This is a vicious cycle and I am so worried about my kids. Please, Indiana, help our at-risk kids!


Anonymous said...

It's scary isn't it? I have NO idea how to help or rectify the situation. On one hand, I want to shout from the rooftops "STAY IN SCHOOL KIDS, YOU CAN DO IT!!!" and be a beacon of positive encouragement and encourage behavioral modification plans and accomodations easily in the classroom but realistically I know that's not feasible. It's scary times.

And the music programs?! This irks me. I could quote reference after reference on the benefits of creative outlets on developing minds but I would be redundantly saying what you already know!


anonymous prep said...

Oh goodness - librarians, music, and outreach programs? That's horrible! I just don't understand the logic behind cutting those funds, especially those that affect the formative years and at-risk students. It makes me sad and angry and frustrated - I can only imagine being in the thick of it!

Anonymous said...

My husband teaches in a district with a very high percentage of at-risk youth. They are completely overhauling half of the district's high schools in order to become eligible for government stimulus money. While his job is likely safe (he is tenured in a core discipline) it is so painful to have to experience.
Hang in there and fight for those programs!

Wearing Mascara said...

You've said it right. It makes me sick too :-(

Susannah said...

We are going through the same things in Georgia, and the scary thing is, it is supposed to be way worse next year! We are cutting our graduation coaches-they help at risk kids stay on track to graduate. It's really not a good idea-we are going to end up hurting these kids way more in the long run.

Brittany Ann said...

Florida is doing stuff like this, too. And I'm scared to death. The system is already pretty much set up so that a ton of our at-risk kids fail, and they're taking away what little is left in it that's good! Ahhh!! Why don't we prioritize our children anymore? Honestly, it wears me out every day at work. Because I feel like we all go in and invest and fight the battle with these kids only to have our own "special forces" throw us under the bus. It's so frustrating!

Crazy Shenanigans said...

That sounds awful! I hope there's some way that these programs won't get cut.

Casey (@ Ever-Changing Life) said...

I know from a library side this is a really hot topic. Librarians across the country are being cut, along with any other "non-essential" staff. Sad to see them making cuts on the things that help those of us in education build well rounded young adults.

Jackie said...

So frustrating! Our budget is calling for ten psychologists to be cut, among many other things, so I am just PRAYING that people retire and/or move so that I don't lose my job...because you know no one will be hiring this school year! UGGGHHHH. I'm with you on the Debbie Downer train.

Jenn said...

omg - this is truly sad. what's even more sad is that education shouldn't be a political issue or anything. students need music. they need counselors. and librarians. and psychologists. and physical education.

they should be considered basic right for children. this makes me sick.

Phoenix said...

Well, this sucks. (the news, not your blog. Hi, by the way! Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a sweet comment.) I never understand why people can't see how much good At-Risk programs do for kids - I certainly don't understand cutting arts programs either. Kids don't just go to school to be taught math and science - it's also about being emotional, social, and artistic growth. This is so frustrating to hear, and I'm not even a school teacher - so I can definitely imagine how frustrated you are. Boo. :(