What Budget Cuts Mean to My School

Posted: 2011/03/04 in Classroom Teacher, Education, Education Reform

Because of the California budget cuts our school started the Fall 2011 school year with nine fewer teachers than Fall 2010.

One result has been larger class size. But even with teacher nerves and attention stretched to fraying, there’s a limit to how many chairs a room can hold.

The other result has been added T.A. periods: Students serving as teachers’ aides. These are Juniors and Seniors who should have six classes per semester, but instead have five (or even four) actual classes.

I was a T.A. in grad school. My responsibilities ranged from grading student papers, to meeting with and advising undergraduates (Professor B did not meet with undergraduates), to driving the esteemed professor to and from the University (Professor B had a heart condition).

But high school T.A.’s mostly hang out with little to do. The good kids study and do homework. The less-than-ideal students goof off. There’s a lot that needs to be confidential at school — I couldn’t allow a high school T.A. to see other students’ grades, much less grade papers. If anything, high school T.A.s are used for clerical chores.

That’s not why parents send their kids to school. Students spending one-sixth of the day (or more) filing papers and learning nothing means students being cheated of their education.

What would the budget-cutters have us do?

There will be a California ballot initiative this June asking voters to extend current tax rates (and not permit taxes to revert to lower levels). Right now our school administrators are preparing two budgets. Budget A assumes we would continue with the same amount of money as this year. Budget B kicks in if the governor’s proposed tax extensions are not enacted. If we go to Budget B, the school would lose another nine educators next year.

I’ve heard some who claim the right-wing agenda is the ultimate failure and collapse of public education in America. Whether or not it’s anyone’s agenda, the next round of budget cuts certainly pulls us in the direction of that collapse.

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