We’ve got troubles

Education Week reports. Hard Times Hit Schools by Michele McNeil, that “states are already racking $40 billion shortfalls so far this year (or the equivalent of the K-12 education budget of Texas.   The number keeps rising as (schools) start the 2008-2009 school year.”  In other words, when the stimulus checks stop, states and schools will need to find some way to continue to fund the programs and salaries that the Federal Government funded.

When the economy takes a hit, whether caused by high gas prices or the sub-prime mortgage crisis or the falling stock market or the phases of the moon, schools sustain the largest hit.  For example, in Hawaii, in order to make up for the shortfall in the state budget schools are being closed every other Friday and teacher furloughed.  Little or no thought was given to the impact on learning or the impact on families.  Parents now have to scramble to provide day care services or miss work.  The Law of Unintended Consequences comes into play now that the rest of the state’s economy is hit by parent workers not showing up for work.

Politicians like to speak about the critical role that schools play in building America’s role in the global economy yet education budgets are frequently sacrificed in pursuit of ‘instant fixes” in the war on declining state revenues.

The media frequently point to the growing success of the Chinese and Indian economies which have succeeded by a focused effort to improve their educational systems and increased spending of additional funds.

We cannot raise educational achievement by cutting funding.  Politicians and the media need to be reminded that while money will not solve all of education’s problems, the lack of funding will solve none of the problem.