Archives for category: Budget Cuts

James Kirylo is a professor of teaching and learning in Louisiana and president of the faculty senate at Southeastern Louisiana University. Since the media lets Governor Jindal say things without challenging him, Professor Kirylo sets the record straight here.

 

 

 

A Response to Governor Jindal’s Appearance on Meet the Press

Governor Jindal recently appeared on Meet the Press. The host Chuck Todd peppered the Governor with a variety of questions, asking why he didn’t expand Medicaid, being that it would be helpful for the 200,000 uninsured people in the state (although the number is likely more toward the 750,000 range).

Todd also reminded the Governor how Louisiana nearly has a billion dollar hole in our budget; how at every midyear review, our deficit has grown; how the big tax cut at the beginning of the governor’s term has not been followed by revenue; and that a majority in Louisiana disapprove of his job as governor.

Governor Jindal predictably deflected much of what Todd said, and stated at the onset that he doesn’t care about the poll numbers and never has. He also proudly mentioned that he’s cut our state budget 26%, cut the number of state employees 34%, and declared how not spending on Medicaid is another dollar we don’t have to borrow from China, and that we shouldn’t waste those federal tax dollars.

Furthermore, the Governor asserted how we’ve actually improved healthcare access and outcomes here in our state. Citing an example—how it used to take ten days to get a prescription filled—now one can get it done in ten minutes. Finally, the Governor also touted his so-called school choice program, and concluded that he has balanced the budget every single year without running deficits, and without raising taxes.

As I watched Meet the Press, listening to the least transparent governor in the nation, I was amazed, though not surprised, by what the Governor did not mention, some of which I will, therefore, do here. First, when the Governor says he does not care that the majority of Louisianans disapprove of his job as governor, it obviously means he doesn’t care what I think, what state workers think, and what the hundreds and thousands of us who have been greatly harmed by his policies think. It is obvious there is only one person the Governor cares about.

Of course, he didn’t mention that when he talks about how he has sliced and diced the state budget, it has resulted in the near decimation of higher education. Indeed, universities have been cut 80% in the last several years, tuition has exponentially risen, and the LA Grad Act is simply a devious scheme that fosters a system that unduly taxes students in order to fund higher education. In a poor state like ours, this is simply a formula that further widens the opportunity gap, and further widens the gap between the proverbial “haves” and “have-nots.”

He also didn’t mention that numerous underpaid university people have endured near poverty wages, have endured furloughs, have had no cost of living allowances now inching toward the ten year mark, that numerous individuals can’t afford health care, that top flight faculty have left the state, that public school teachers have been blamed for everything that ails our state, that Louisiana has the nation’s fourth highest high school dropout rate, that our high school graduation rate ranks 45th in the nation, that we have one of the highest childhood poverty rates in the country, and that we have the highest incarceration rate in the country, if not the world.

Of course, he didn’t mention that Louisiana ranks 50th among the states in overall health, and that we lead the nation in the highest infant mortality rate, the highest diabetes-related death rate, and the highest rate of death from breast cancer, and third-highest rate of cancer deaths overall.

And of course, he wouldn’t mention that according to a Washington Post report a short while back, the state of Louisiana is expecting a $1.2 billion budget shortfall next year, which has now risen to 1.4 billion. And this is despite the Jindal administration hiring a New York-based consulting firm for $7.3 million to find ways to generate and save revenue. Finally, he didn’t mention what can be characterized as the Office of Group Benefits (OGB) scandal, where many are asking about the half of the $500 million dollars that was in the OGB reserve fund, but is now gone.

It should be no surprise critics are calling Jindal’s handling of the budget his blind-spot. But that is not his only blind spot. The other one is that he is blind to the fact that he has hurt the lives of so many hard-working Louisianans. And the irony of ironies when the Governor concluded his visit with Meet the Press, he stated that the American Dream was in jeopardy and that should he run for president, he would focus on restoring that dream.

It was then I turned off my television set, had to shake my head, and grabbed my dictionary to double-check the definition of delusional.

 

 

 

James D. Kirylo is an education professor, a former state teacher of the year, and his most recent book is titled A Critical Pedagogy of Resistance. He can be reached at jkirylo@yahoo.com


James D. Kirylo, Ph.D.
Professor
Faculty Senate, President
Southeastern Louisiana University
Department of Teaching and Learning
SLU 10749
Hammond, LA 70402

“To be called an educator is an incredible responsibility and an earned privilege. Not only does teaching require command of subject matter, but it also involves a deep understanding of human behavior. A conscientious educator is always in process striving toward excellence within the complexity of a multi-cultural society. Indeed, teaching is an extraordinary journey that requires one to negotiate through a channel of multiple challenges, dilemmas, and opportunities.”

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COLORADO COURT DENIES STATE’S MOTION TO DISMISS SCHOOL FUNDING CASE

November 14, 2014

On November 12, 2014, the Denver District Court brought the State of Colorado one step closer to fulfilling the promise of increased per pupil education funding that Amendment 23 in the Colorado Constitution requires.

In Dwyer v. State of Colorado, the Court denied the State’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, which means the Court will now hear and rule on the merits of whether the State has violated Amendment 23 by cutting K-12 education by $1 billion each of the last four years. Added to the constitution by the voters in 2000, Amendment 23 requires the state to adjust annually the statewide base per pupil funding proportional to the rate of inflation.

On hearing the news, lead plaintiff Lindi Dwyer said, “This is a good start and a good day for Colorado. The voters made a promise in 2000 that the state would increase funding and provide educational opportunities to all students. The promise is in our constitution and today takes us one step closer to fulfilling that promise.”

Judge Herbert Stern, III ruled that, “Amendment 23 prescribes minimum increases for state funding of education.”

As explained by the plaintiffs’ counsel, the Dwyer suit “alleges that the General Assembly violated Amendment 23 by slashing education funding by over a billion dollars through a gimmick the State calls the Negative Factor.” In 2010, the legislature adopted the negative factor in a statute in an attempt to override its Amendment 23 responsibilities.  

Related Stories:

Keep the Promise” to Fund Schools as Colorado’s Constitution Requires

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Director, Education Justice
email: mhunter@edlawcenter.org
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The Wall Street Journal published an article by Kate Bachelder called “The Top 10 Liberal Superstitions.” The first “superstition” she cited was that “spending more money improves education.” Her proof: we have spent more money since 1970, but SAT scores and international scores have not gone up.

The article on the WSJ is behind a paywall, but on this site you can read the article in full. Here are two replies that should help to educate Ms. Bachelder and the readers of the WSJ:

 

 

 

Kate Bachelder’s first liberal superstition (“The Top 10 Liberal Superstitions,” op-ed, Oct. 31) is that “spending more money improves education” and she cites the fact that inflation-adjusted spending for K-12 has more than doubled since 1970, with corresponding decreases in SAT scores.

 

I don’t know what Ms. Bachelder’s age is, but I graduated from high school in 1971 and can say that up to that point in my public education my schools served exactly one special-education student. Spending on special education was nonexistent in 1970 as well as spending on teaching English to non-speakers. Oh, and I remember taking only one statewide test, in fifth grade, not the never-ending expensive testing regimen today’s students must endure.

 

Spending on education today can’t be equitably compared with spending in 1970, since we are now funding massive programs that didn’t exist 45 years ago.

 

Julie Hollingsworth

Fort Wayne, Ind.

 

 

Spending cuts in public education hurt children, families and eventually the economy. Cuts cause shortages of school nurses, libraries, fine arts and P.E., amenities taken for granted in private schools. They result in larger class sizes. At the same time states have slashed education funding ($5.4 billion in Texas in 2011), the number of students continues to increase, especially children who are low income and English-language learners. Educators aren’t making excuses when they point out that these children are more difficult to teach. Poor children suffer more toxic stress and move frequently. They have fewer books in the home (Beverley Hills’s average of 199 versus 0.4 in nearby Watts) and need more support from wraparound services. Slovakia is held up as an example for spending less on education, but 25% of U.S. children live in poverty compared with only 13% in Slovakia. In Texas over 60% of all public school children qualify for free or reduced lunch.

 

I respect Republicans for fiscal conservatism, but cutting public-education funding isn’t an investment in the future and doesn’t “conserve” the tradition of our public schools.

 

Sara Stevenson

Austin, Texas

Yesterday, in response to a reader in Ohio, I posted an “Ohio Alert,” warning that the State Board of Education in Ohio would soon consider eliminating teachers of  art, music, and physical education, librarians, social workers, and nurses in elementary schools.

 

Several commenters on the blog have disputed the claim and said it was not true..

 

This article seems to offer a definitive explanation.

 

It is NOT TRUE that the vote will be taken this week. The state board will vote on this question in December. Forgive my error!

 

What will the vote be about?

 

Patrick O’Donnell of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes:

 

The state board will vote in December, not this week as some have claimed, on whether to eliminate requirements that local districts have a certain number of elementary art, music or physical education teachers, school counselors, library media specialists, school nurses, social workers and “visiting teachers.”

 

Administrative code requires districts to have at least five of these eight positions per 1,000 students in what some call the “5 of 8″ rule. The state board is considering wiping out that rule and allowing districts to make staffing decisions on their own.

 

Tom Gunlock, the board’s vice chairman, said this morning that the proposed change isn’t to eliminate those positions, as some are charging, but to let districts make their own choices.

 

Should the state require districts to have these classes and services? Or is that a local decision? Tell us below.
“I’m sure they’ll do what’s right for their kids,” Gunlock said.

 

He added: “For years, people have been telling me about all these unfunded mandates and that we’re telling them what to do. They keep telling me they know more about what their kids need that we do, and I agree with them.”

 

Susan Yutzey, president of the Ohio Educational Library Media Association, is urging her members to oppose the change. In a presentation on the change posted online, Yutzey said she and other organizations are “concerned that local boards and administrators will see this as an opportunity to eliminate art, music, physical education, school counselors, library media specialists, school nurses and social workers.”

 

So, if we read Mr. Gunlock’s view correctly, the state will consider changing its requirement that elementary schools must fill five of these eight positions. Requiring that all elementary schools have teachers of the arts, nurses, librarians, physical education teachers, and social workers is “an unfunded mandate.” Schools facing budget cuts could get rid of the school nurse or the teachers of the arts or teachers of physical education or social workers or librarians. The choice would be theirs as the state code would no longer require that every school must fill at least five of these eight positions per 1,000 students.

 

If I were a parent of an elementary school age child in Ohio, I would be very alarmed that the state board is making these positions optional. For warning that the state board is even considering such a nonsensical “mandate relief,” I offer no apology.

On November 11, the Ohio State Board of Education will vote on a motion to eliminate crucial positions at elementary schools.

 

The Board will vote on whether to eliminate “specialist” positions, that include elementary schools arts teachers, elementary school music teachers, elementary school physical education teachers, school nurses, school library media specialists, school counselors, and school social workers.

 

Will they call it “reform”?

 

Here is Peter Greene, reporting on the same horrifying spectacle, with more detail.

 

He writes:

 

This morning comes word that the Ohio State Board of Education will vote this Tuesday on some revision to the school code. The most significant revision reportedly under consideration is one that would make end state requirements for elementary specialists.

 

Currently, school code states that for every thousand elementary students, schools must have in place five of the following eight specialists: art, music, counselor, school nurse, librarian/media specialist, visiting teacher, social worker, or phys ed.

 

The revision would eliminate the section that includes that language. What would be left is this definition of staff:

 

Educational service personnel are credentialed staff with the knowledge, skills and expertise to support the educational, instructional, health, mental health, and college/career readiness needs of students.

 

The appeal for districts is obvious. Let’s have one music teacher for 10,000 students. Let’s have no music teacher at all. Great. Let me mention that this article also came across my screen this morning: “Youngstown kids second poorest in nation” Do we really need to argue that the poorest, most vulnerable students are the ones who most need these sorts of services and enrichment? Is there somebody in Ohio prepared, seriously, to argue that nurses and music and art and phys ed are unnecessary luxuries, and kids should just pack up their grit and do without?

 

The Twitter hashtag for this abomination is #ohio5of8

 

 

While Republicans made big gains across the nation, Pennsylvania was a stark exception. Democrat Tom Wolf beat Republican Governor Tom Corbett by a large margin. The main issue of the campaign was Corbett’s devastating cuts to public schools. Other budget-cutting governors won; why was Corbett whipped?

Here is the answer: Parent power. Parents never forgot what Corbett did and they built a grassroots movement to keep alive the voters’ memory and outrage about what Corbett had done to public schools.

Jesse Ramey–the blogger Yinzercation–explains here the victory strategy. Parents were relentless. They never gave up.

“What really dogged Corbett was – us! Ordinary parents, students, teachers, and community members refused to let this issue go. We wrote letters to the editor, op-eds, and blog pieces; we staged rallies and demonstrations; we held mock-bake sales; we wrote petitions and got on buses to Harrisburg to deliver thousands of signatures; we hosted public debates, lectures, and national authors. With “dogged” determination, we took every opportunity to counter Corbett’s attempts to minimize the damage he was inflicting on our schools: we took to social media and made on-line comments on news stories at every chance.

“Some folks had been doing this work for many years and became advisors and mentors to the more recent groundswell of advocacy, as we joined the long arc of the education justice movement. We connected with others across the state, from Philadelphia, to the Lehigh Valley, State College, Shippensburg, Erie, and beyond. I’m especially grateful to parent leaders such as Helen Gym, Rebecca Poyourow, Susan Spicka, Mark Spengler, and Dana Bacher. One take away message from this election is “don’t mess with Pennsylvania parents – or hurt their kids and schools!”

You can be sure that this powerful coalition will not let Governor Wolf forget why he was elected.

Whenever a superintendent speaks truth to ower, their voice should be heard. What is more, they deserve to be honored. I am glad here to honor William G . Hochgesang, Superintendent, Northeast Dubois public schools and to add him to our honor roll as a champion of public education. The politicians are hurting children, hurting teachers, and decimating public education. Thank you, Superintendent Hochgesang, for speaking up with courage and clarity for our kids and our democracy.

This letter from Superintendent Hochgesang came from another Indiana superintendent, Dr. Terry Sargeant:

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

Over the weekend, I received this letter through the Indiana Small & Rural Schools Association. It was written by Dr. Bill Hochgesang, Superintendent of Northeast Dubois Schools, to his school board the evening he asked them to approve their new teacher contract. In a nutshell, I have not heard the circumstances currently faced by Indiana Public Schools expressed any better. This letter is beginning to go viral in Indiana and I thought you might enjoy reading it. I agree with Bill 100% and I only hope that the political pendulum in Indiana will begin to swing the other direction soon – for the sake of our kids.

Most sincerely,

Terry

Dr. Terry R. Sargent
Superintendent
Jennings County School Corporation
34 W. Main Street
North Vernon, Indiana 47265
(812) 346-4483
tsargent@jcsc.org

“All children are gifted; some just open their packages earlier than others.”

– Michael Carr

​”​ Board,

I am recommending to the board this evening that they ratify the contract as presented. This contract for the second year in a row has a zero increase . Our Classroom Teachers Association does this fully knowing that zero isn’t in reality a zero. It is a negative as our insurance rate increased by 4% in 2013 and increased 8% for the 2015 school year. In the past there was a salary schedule for teachers that had an increment in place for experience . That option was taken away two years ago by our legislature. So this is a true pay cut for the second year in a row. Along with our teachers, all employees of Northeast Dubois have taken this same cut in salary the past two years . It saddens me to have to ask for this and accept this. But that is the reality of what we are currently dealing with.

It does however give me great pleasure to work in this school system where kids truly come first. Our school corporation is a system where people honestly put students’ needs ahead of their own as evidenced by these actions. Our school corporation is innovative as shown by our technology, our atmosphere and, of course, our success . Still we are never satisfied and continuously work to improve. Our school system strives to provide students the opportunity to pursue their passions and excel in many areas! Our school system is one where there is no talk of cutting any programs or enlarging class sizes in order to save money-yet. I worry about this trend continuing. Staff has shown their dedication to students by forgoing pay in order to protect these programs and class sizes.

I only wish I lived in a state where legislators cared as much for students as we do at Northeast Dubois. In 2009, $300,000,000 was taken from the education budget and never returned. Yet we all read in the news that the state has a $2,000,000,000 surplus. One doesn’t have to be a math expert in order to see where 75% of that money came from. Take five years times $300,000,000 and it is crystal clear that $1.5 Billion has come at the cost of the schools in Indiana. Many schools have turned to referendums, just to make ends meet. In fact, after the May election one out of every three schools in Indiana has run a referendum on the voting ballot. Yet, what do we as educators get from our legislators? We get higher standards, more accountability and forced competition, competition for money that is not increasing. We are forced to compete for students, as the money follows the child . We get forced competition where students are ranked, teachers are ranked and schools are ranked. Ranking always produces winners and losers, there is always a top and always a bottom, and in education there cannot be any losers! The education of every child in this state is critical. I am a firm believer that every school in this state is giving their best effort! I wish the legislators would truly see what great things are happening in our schools and begin to support our efforts . I feel they have forgotten the essential role education has played in the success in their own lives and that an education is the most important aspect in leaving a legacy for our children. Public education as we know it is in grave danger. Our legislators need to know just how much we care about our schools and we need their support!

Northeast Dubois is surviving like every other school corporation in this state; we are surviving by a slim margin. We are surviving because of our dedicated, caring and giving people. To all Northeast Dubois employees: Thank you for truly putting kids first! I am humbled to be a part of this school corporation. And hopefully better days are ahead! Let’s keep working together for all our students!

Thank you,

William G . Hochgesang,
Superintendent, Northeast Dubois ​”

The School Reform Commission of Philadelphia, controlled by the state, recently canceled the teachers’ contract to extract savings from the teachers’ benefits to plug a huge budget gap created by Governor Corbett’s $1 billion in cuts to education in the state. Corbett apparently hopes to privatize as many public schools as possible during his tenure. He likes to blame teachers for budget crises instead of his budget cuts. He is up for re-election in a few weeks. He should lose. He is a disaster for public education.

For Immediate Release
October 15, 2014

Contact:
Kate Childs Graham
202-615-2424
kchilds@aft.org
http://www.aft.org

American Federation of Teachers Launches Political Ad Buy on Philly School Crisis

WASHINGTON— The American Federation of Teachers Committee on Political Education has launched an ad buy that tells the true story of the teachers’ contract in Philadelphia. The six-figure radio ad buy—which features Philadelphia educators Steve Flemming and Sharnae Wilson—started airing in the Philadelphia media market Oct. 14.

“You have to wonder why Gov. Corbett’s School Reform Commission is more determined to misrepresent contract negotiations as a pretext for imposing concessions than to work with the teachers and support staff in Philadelphia who have been the glue holding schools together,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “Gov. Corbett has been blaming and attacking them for months on end. Now, weeks before he is up for re-election, his School Reform Commission pulls this stunt. It’s unacceptable and voters won’t stand for it.”

“Something doesn’t add up,” said Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President Jerry Jordan. “We put $24 million in healthcare savings and $10 million in wage freezes on the table 14 months ago. The School Reform Commission refused the money and then stopped negotiating altogether in July. If they were serious about helping kids, they would work with us, not try to break us.”

Ad script

Steve: My name is Steve and I teach third grade. I absolutely love teaching.

Sharnae: My name is Sharnae. My passion has always been teaching.

Steve: The budget cuts are having a huge impact.

Sharnae: There are too many students in the classroom. We have to buy our own supplies.

Narrator: From old textbooks to outdated equipment to overcrowded classrooms, our Philadelphia teachers are up against many challenges … and yet they keep going.

Steve: We teach our hearts out every single day.

Sharnae: Hoping things will get better.

Narrator: Gov. Corbett cut $1 billion from Pennsylvania’s schools. Fourteen months ago, Philadelphia teachers put millions in healthcare savings on the table. But Gov. Corbett’s School Reform Commission refused to accept their offer. And now? The School Reform Commission is trying to pull the plug on our teachers’ contract. Choosing to spend money in the courtroom instead of the classroom.

Sharnae: The students are suffering.

Steve: Something must change.

Narrator: Send a message to Gov. Corbett and the SRC. Tell them to stand with our kids, our schools and our teachers. Vote Nov. 4.

Paid for by American Federation of Teachers Committee on Political Education. The American Federation of Teachers is responsible for the content of this ad.

Click here to listen to the ad.

###

Hannah Oh, of State Budget Solutions, wonders whether states and districts can afford the required technology.

Question: why should all tests be taken online? Whose idea was that? Why shouldn’t the federal government pay for the new technology? Why the windfall for the tech industry?

Florida never ceases to amaze. In 2012, the voters overwhelmingly defeated a constitutional amendment to permit school vouchers, yet the Legislature keeps finding ingenious ways to siphon off public funds for vouchers.

 

Now, Julie Delegal writes, a local school board member–presumably elected to strengthen and support his district’s public schools–has come out strongly in opposition to the Florida School Boards Association’s lawsuit against private school vouchers.

 

What you need to know to understand this story is that former Governor Jeb Bush loves vouchers, and everyone on his team does what Jeb wants.

 

This is how her article begins. It is worth reading it all to see how the privatization movement is trying to starve public education and send money to unaccountable private schools:

 

Duval County School board member Jason Fischer is a nice young man. But in politics, I’ve learned, it’s the nice young men you have to watch.
His most recent actions reveal that he’s a foot soldier in the war to destroy public education. And his bread may be getting buttered by lieutenants in the Jeb-Bush-brand, school privatization movement — the ones who are affiliated with his employer, Uretek Holdings.
Fischer’s recent activities put him squarely in the camp that has been systematically destroying Florida’s public schools for more than a decade. As both governor and puppet-master, Bush has overseen the implementation of a punitive school-grades system and an overreaching teacher-accountability scheme.
Meanwhile, the Bush camp has promoted privatization — and the funding choices that go with it – while the Legislature has been starving our public schools. Despite Gov. Rick Scott’s claims that he’s boosted spending for education, The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says that, in real dollars, per pupil spending in Florida public schools is still not up to pre-recessionary levels.
Fischer has come out strongly against the lawsuit filed by the Florida School Boards Association, which questions the constitutionality of Florida’s private-school voucher program. He not only published a guest editorial in the Jacksonvlle Times Union, he also asked his fellow public school board members to pass a resolution condemning the suit.
Voucher funding now drains state coffers by more than $300 million yearly.
Duval Superintendent Nikolai Vitti is on record saying that privatization — voucher schools, charter schools, etc. — could siphon away up to $70 million from Duval next year.
With support from the FEA, the NAACP, the League of Women Voters, the Florida PTA, and other education advocates, the FSBA is asking a Leon County judge to declare the tax credit voucher program unconstitutional on two grounds. Plaintiffs say that by permitting corporations to pay their taxes to the voucher program called “Step Up for Students,” instead of to the Florida treasury, the program creates a separate, shadow school system. The Florida Constitution, the suit points out, calls for a single, “high quality,” and “uniform” public school system.
The Constitution also forbids aid to religious institutions, and the majority of schools funded by “Step Up” are religious schools.
The response to the lawsuit from voucher supporters is, essentially, “You’re picking on poor children who need to have ‘choice,’ you big meanies.”

 

Is there hope for public education in Florida? Yes. Parents must organize and fight this attack on their public schools. School boards must be vigilant against privatization. Working together, they stopped the “parent trigger” twice in the Legislature. They have the power, and they can’t let down their guard for a minute. The privatization movement never rests, and neither should the defenders of public education.

 

 

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