Budget Cuts Will Compromise Education

budgetcutsI normally do not talk about politics on my blog, but I feel very strongly about this issue and want to share it with my readers. State governments across the United States are slashing their budgets in a wide variety of areas, including Education. This is certainly true in my home state of North Carolina, which is taking its Education budget cuts too far in my opinion.  Currently North Carolina public schools are facing more than $1 billion in budget cuts.  The proposed cuts are going to impact class size and likely could cause some schools to shut their doors.  “When North Carolina had tough choices to make during the Depression, political leaders stepped forward and made a very courageous decision to raise taxes and keep public schools strong. What is missing at the moment is that kind of political courage. We are not going to cut our way out of this recession. As our president said in his inauguration speech, ‘the countries that out educate us today will out compete us tomorrow,'” said Debra Horton, the president of the North Carolina Parent Teachers’ Association, in a press release from the NC Association of Educators.   

While no one has yet to come up with a “fix,” it is clear that unless something is done, North Carolina is going to feel the budget impact on multiple levels.  If the budget is slashed as planned, it is estimated that nearly 12,000 North Carolina educators would be added to our state’s already staggering number of unemployed.  School officials estimate that in my county alone, budget cuts could result in termination of more than 100 teachers.  This would severely reduce funding for programs and services designed to assist at-risk students and would limit the number of textbooks the district would purchase.  If textbooks are limited this would prevent our children from being able to bring them home at night, virtually eliminating parents being able to help with homework.  Fewer teachers would mean increased class size which would prevent students from getting the individualized attention they deserve.  According the U.S. Dept of Education publication, Reducing Class Size, What Do We Know?,  class size reduction in the early grades leads to higher student achievement.  On being assigned to smaller classes, teachers report that the classroom atmosphere is better, that students can receive more individualized attention, and that the teachers have more flexibility to use different instructional approaches and assignments.  Larger classroom sizes would likely result in lower levels of student achievement.

As a parent of a child in the public school system, I am very concerned about the proposed budget cuts. I am a parent, not a politician, but why not raise taxes on cigarettes and divert the funds to Education?  According to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, North Carolina has one of the lowest cigarette tax rates and currently ranks 48th nationwide (May 28, 2009 data). While North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue has proposed a tax increase of $1.oo per pack for cigarettes (raising the current tax of 35 cents per pack to $1.35), I do not think that is enough. Other states have increased their taxes even more. According to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids which tracks this data, 13 states (including DC) have cigarette tax rates of $2.00 per pack or higher and one state (Rhode Island) has a cigarette tax rate of $3.00 per pack or higher.  According to a report from the North Carolina Alliance for Health, raising North Carolina’s cigarette tax by $1.00 will generate an additional $329 million in new revenue in the first year.  Raising it more than $1.oo would logically make our state even more money.  If this money was earmarked for Education, our public schools might not be adversely affected by state budget cuts.  Not only would we save money, we would save lives.

Whether you live in North Carolina or another state facing budget cuts, I urge you to contact your Governor and State legislators to voice your opinion that Education should be protected as much as possible. It’s the least we can do for our children who are our country’s future.


14 Responses to “Budget Cuts Will Compromise Education”

  1. 1 P.Schauber June 8, 2009 at 9:02 am

    Further budget cuts to education is short sighted. The quality of education will be evident in future generations. To cut funds for education now to balance the budget is a quick fix with a detrimental long term outcome. Cuts have already been made, go no further!

  2. 2 Marie Watson June 8, 2009 at 9:30 am

    I very upset about the proposed cuts. First of all I am a teacher. The recent pay cut of .5% of my salary has left me in a financial bind. The mortgage company will not take 10 hours of time off as a partial payment! I cannot afford to have my salary cut further, or completely. Second, I am a single mother. There is no income to help me survive if I lose my job, or another 2.5% of my salary. Teachers don’t get paid their due as it is, and taking further money will surely add to the unemployment rates. This in turn will cause an increase in the number of people seeking financial assistance from the government. Basically, these cuts guarantee that the government will be spending MORE money, not less.
    Losing teachers will be very harmful to our students. To my knowledge, most counties will “lose” the newest teachers to the county. These are some of the best teachers! You will have to increase the number of students in the classrooms. We already have more than we can reach successfully with little help (since we have few assistants and are losing more). If North Carolina is already so low educationally, the last thing we need is to cut education more! More children in a class, with fewer supplies, equals lower performance. If you think the state test scores are low now, see what happens if these cuts take effect! The schools need MORE, not less.
    The cuts will harm our children’s future more than you can even begin to imagine. The dropout rate will increase. The effects of these cuts will be negative across the board.
    Honestly, the solution to our financial crisis is simple. The Education Lottery made a ton of money (we’ve all seen the commercials!), yet none of it went to education. I still cannot understand how that is legal. The roads are fine. Education is not fine. South Carolina’s Education Lottery has been used for EDUCATION and their test scores have increased. If the money goes where it should, there wouldn’t be this huge problem.
    As far as making up for the state budget, do what has been done over and over again. Raise taxes. An increase of 1% in taxes would make up the deficit far faster than taking money from the poorest professions in the country. Raise cigarette taxes, liquor taxes, fines for drunk driving etc. There are many ways to make up this money, but this solution will only cause more problems. In this economy, an education is all most of our students have, and that’s about to be taken away. Think about it.

  3. 3 Mary June 8, 2009 at 10:35 am

    I am a school counselor in North Carolina and am incredibly concerned about the effects of the proposed budget cut for our students. Our students are already feeling the stress of these financially difficult times. They are no longer concerned about baseball and piano lessons; they are concerned about whether or not their father will have a job tomorrow, or what they can do to help their parents earn extra money. My job is very important for these children who can’t focus on schoolwork because of the aforementioned issues. When students are so distracted by outside issues, how can they listen in class and learn about Math and Reading?

    I know that school counselors and at-risk programs are some of the first on the chopping block for cuts, but think about our students! Counselors give children a chance to talk about issues at home and to problem-solve on their own. We TEACH students ways to deal with stress and anxiety (which is overly abundant in today’s society), how to be successful people in the community and how to dream about their futures.

    This budget cut impacts not only teachers, but ALL EDUCATORS. Each person in the schools affects children in different ways and contributes to their success both academically, and personally. We need to help students be well-rounded and responsible and it takes each and every one of us in the school system to do that; teachers, principals, counselors, special area teachers, school social workers, custodians, cafeteria workers, and teacher assistants. Our government needs to think about the astronomical effect this budget cut will have on our country’s future.

  4. 4 Mrs. Amy Suleski June 8, 2009 at 10:47 am

    I have to say that I agree completely!

    I am a public school teacher and have trained to receive my Masters Degree in Elementary Ed. I am married, and my husband is also a state employee, teaching at the college level. We are dramatically effected by these potential cuts and it will effect not only my career, but our lively hood. I feel that there are other ways that the state could make up the differences other than to cut education. This is only going to hurt our students and our state. I am sure that the legislators have kids or had kids of their own that have benefited from our states education. If we are to raise our students up to reach goals of some of the other states, we need to keep the teachers and assistants in the classroom and recruit more qualified educators to teach and train our kids.

    I am not a parent yet, but feel very strongly that education is the key to our kids success.

    Please think about our kids and their futures before making these decisions that could be a disaster to our state and our kids!

    Mrs. Amy Suleski
    Elementary school teacher

  5. 5 Roberta Lattin June 8, 2009 at 11:05 am

    As a teacher assistant in NC I believe that budget cuts to education will be detrimental to our students and in the long run to our society. Class sizes are already too large in my opinion. Many children already struggle because they are not able to receive the one-on-one attention they need to help them catch up to their peers. Differentiated instruction/assessment will be hard if not impossible for a teacher to implement if he/she has too many children in the classroom and is not able to give each child the individualized attention he/she deserves. Cutting funds to children at risk will make it even more difficult for these children to be identified, referred, tested, and helped. It is critical that these children are identified early. The earlier these children and their families receive help the brighter their future becomes. My question is why are we not raising sales tax period? Sales tax in NC is relatively low compared to other states. If everyone helped out and paid a few more pennies for groceries and clothes our state would not have to layoff anymore employees, cut any educational programs, or health care. Please put our children’s needs first and protect their right to a quality education.

  6. 6 Hannah Gerello June 8, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    I am a More at Four Teacher at Rocky River Elem. in Cabarrus County. You can ask any kindergarten teacher and ask them how beneficial the More at Four Program is to children entering Kindergarten. Our children are prepared for school – they know the routines, the school environment, the rules, etc. They are also placed at grade level or above their peers entering Kindergarten concerning pre-academic skills. The only thing I have ever heard a Kindergarten say negatively about the More at Four Program is that there are not enough classes to host all of the incoming Kindergartners. This program has an astronomical number of benefits and puts “at risk” children at an advantage when they enter Kindergarten. Please do not view the More at Four program as “expendable” because it is not, and should not discarded.

  7. 7 Susan Martin June 8, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    Your second paragraph echos my thoughts exactly. Thank you so much for taking a strong stand. It speaks volumes as to what the rest of us are thinking and also acting upon.

  8. 8 Ashley June 9, 2009 at 7:58 am

    I think you should send this in as a letter to the editor.

  9. 9 Sifa Edwards June 10, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    It is disturbing to me that the only solution politicians come up with to balance the budget is to take away from our children. I have two kids that attend Cabarrus County schools in North Carolina. Although the education they receive is okay, it will never get better if our Governor cuts more funding from the school districts. Our educators are all we have to prepare our kids for the future. After placing them in debt trying to get out of this recession, now we’re trying to rob them of their future potential too. I would love to know to whom this makes sense. The teachers are stretched too thin as it is, now not only are their livelyhoods in jeopardy, but those who get to keep their jobs will have to work twice as hard to compensate for the loss of teachers’ assistants. Let’s find a little bit of common sense. Raise taxes or use the “education lottery” for education purposes. If the state government can’t function with the amount they have, might I suggest they layoff their assistants and staff first? Leave our teachers to do what they are supposed to. LET THEM TEACH!!!

  10. 10 Jennie Carter June 11, 2009 at 9:04 am

    I am one of the Teacher Assistants being affected by the budget cuts. I am also a parent who is being affected by the budget cuts. By increasing class sizes and reducing staff you are setting our children up for failure. Everyone has a right to a high quality education, and by doing nothing but cutting is a complete melt down. You are messing with the future of this country. By increasing class sizes and getting rid of the teacher’s support you are going to have more and more children repeating grades. These children will be in the public education system longer and you will ultimately be spending more money per child because of this.

    Bev Purdue has no right to take the money away from the EDUCATION LOTTERY to fix the state budget. The whole reason to have the lottery was to help schools, not destroy them. Why doesn’t the state put less money into the pension fund for state employees for a fixed number of years. This would save millions of dollars that could be put back into the education system. Also, what’s wrong with raising taxes? I would gladly pay more to help education. If people can’t afford an additional $20.00 or $30.00 per year to help save our future, that’s very disturbing.Education should be the #1 priority, not roads in my opinion. Stop throwing money away on useless things and wake up. The future is in your hands and failure is not an option.

  11. 11 Mom June 13, 2009 at 11:38 am

    I agree with Ashley. This needs to be published in The Independent Tribune, The Charlotte Observer, and the Salisbury Post.

  12. 12 Tipper August 4, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    Wonderful post-and wonderful comments. I live in Cherokee Co. NC-as far west as you can go. The education cuts are the same here. Over 40 teachers in our county have been told they will not have a job when school starts-unless the NC Gov. figures out a way to fund their positions-and it doesn’t look likely. For an example of the extreme-at my daughters school-a very small community school-the middle school language arts teacher was one of the newer teachers who received a pink slip. They are not going to replace her. The other middle school teachers will try and teach language arts in addition to their already assigned subject-that should be totally unacceptable. But the county says there is no money. I’m with you and all your commenters-there should be a way to make budget cuts-without it effecting our children’s education.

    (I see it’s been a while since you posted this-I do hope you submitted it to a newspaper)

  13. 13 tbatch October 28, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    Does anyone know how many members of the general assembly with children send them to public school?

  14. 14 Mary May 11, 2010 at 11:06 pm

    My opinion, the first cuts should be made to the education of prisoners. It is amazing to learn that some have earned bachelor degrees while in prison along with all the free health care and other benefits they receive while our kids schools are now suffering. Just like America, do the right thing and you get punished. Do the wrong thing and get rewarded. Prisoners and illegals have no rights. Don’t know what is wrong with all those advocating for them. Both have placed a strain on our economy that America may never recover from.

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