President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget proposes a $9 billion cut on education. Once more, charters and private schools with prosper at the expense of public schools.
Title II, the 21st Century Community Program Learning Centers program, and The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity program all faced elimination. TRIO and GEARUP, programs that provide assistance for low-income, first-generation and disabled students, experienced massive cuts as well.
These cuts are few of many other reductions in education in the proposed budget.
Country-wide issues aside, cuts have plagued Texas public education beginning in 2006 when the Texas Legislature reduced property taxes by one-third. This financial wound further exacerbated in 2011 with a $5.4 billion cut.
The debilitation of learning begins with budget cuts and continues through increased standardized testing– 28 to 45 days too many of testing activity that shatters Texas’s accountability system.
Uproar concerning Texas public education has been a long time coming; however, President Trump’s proposal to further impinge on public education comes at a paramount time.
Cathie Robinson, principal at Steiner Ranch Elementary in Leander ISD in Austin, Texas, speaks to the ways under-funding hinders learning on her campus.
“It affects the staffing available to me,” Robinson said, “It affects resources and everything else that comes with per-student funding.”
Robinson mentions that guidance counselors, reading specialists, ESL educators tend to be stretched thin due to an uneven ratio of students to educators as more students enroll.
While Robinson appreciated standardized testing in keeping educators accountable with equitable service, she agreed that high-stakes testing solely functions as a snapshot.
“The accountability system and its repercussions perhaps keep school leaders from trying more innovative ways of reaching students,” Robinson said, “You need to have some inner-resolve of faith to move past the kill-and-drill mentality.”
Robinson maintains that standardized testing tends to terminate enthusiasm for the certain genre being honed in on.
On March 25, Save Texas Schools brought these issues to the political stage at the Texas Capitol.
The rally brought state leaders, parents, teachers and students to speak on the various ways under-funding and over-testing affects their communities and lives.
John Kuhn, former superintendent of the small Perrin-Whitt school district returned after speaking at the same rally in 2011.
Kuhn referenced the constitution at various points when solidifying education as a basic human right– a right impaired following major budget cuts.
Check out Ahmaad Washington’s story on how public education influenced his career as a MovementUP artist. Washington educates with age appropriate and modern urban music production:
Kuhn reiterated prevalent points on the mistreatment of public schools when comparing to charters and private schools.
“Free market schools are under no obligation to serve all children,” Kuhn said, “Competition doesn’t breed excellence. If it did, our fast food restaurants would serve the healthiest food around.”
Check out what Ken Zarifis, President of Education Austin, had to say concerning privatization in Austin ISD:
Democratic member of the Texas House of Representatives, Gina Hinajosa, called politicians out on their neglect and broken promises.
“They campaign on doing more for our kids,” Hinajosa said, “Well now is the time to deliver on those promises.”
House Bill 1336, Transparency in Testing, created by Michael Messer, will prompt districts to specify on financial reports how much they spend on the STAAR test.
Check out what Juliet Stipeche, Director of Education, had to say concerning the impact of under-funding and over-testing:
Check out how Allen Weeks, creator of rally and Executive Director of Austin Voices, brought the rally together:
More sights and sounds from the rally: