Political gamesmanship aside, Washington budget cuts would hurt real students, real people
by Félix Pérez
With the nonstop “he said, she said” fiscal cliff debate in Washington, it’s easy to see how everyday citizens would shake their heads and conclude that our elected leaders are behaving like spoiled children.
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Spoiled children or not, though, the budget cuts, if enacted, would hurt real students and real people. The numbers involved are so big as to be almost incomprehensible — services reduced or eliminated for more than 9 million students, almost $5 billion in cuts and nearly 80,000 education jobs gone.
But behind the cold, lifeless numbers are the faces and stories of everyday students and educators. Many of these people are already up against great odds, attending and working in schools, community colleges and universities that are still reeling from drastic state and county budget cutbacks.
Against that backdrop, EdVotes reached out to you. We asked what budget cuts would mean to you, your students and your schools.
The responses were overwhelming and heartfelt.
Brea Wiblemo, a high school social studies teacher in Glencoe, Minn., worries about the strain on her already-overcrowded school.
“Classrooms are put into closets and storage rooms and hallways. In our lower-income community, it is hard to get a taxpayer approved building bond to pass. I worry that poorer communities like mine would worsen while wealthier communities would manage. I worry that it would hurt our special needs students as well. It would very possibly threaten my job, as I’m a younger teacher.”
Pam Thurman, a community college instructor in Decatur, Ala., wonders how much more her students and her colleagues can withstand.
Our classrooms are overcrowded, and our teachers get $300 to reimburse them for supplies, which run much more than that. Most young people can’t afford to go to school, and all students now have to take out student loans because of the grant program being lower. Who is going to pay? Our children and their education.
A teaching veteran with 30 years of experience, Diane Mentzer, of Hagerstown, Md., chose to transfer from an affluent district to her current school, where 93 percent of students are eligible for the Free and Reduced Price Meal program.
“I am lucky to be in a school with small class size, Title I funds for special ed assistants, Title I funds for technology and support for families as well as the students. I cannot physically work any harder than I am now,” said Mentzer. “If class size were to increase, I would have to give each student less of myself. If support for families was to leave, the students would have less food, clothing and even housing. Students cannot learn when they are hungry, cold, worried, tired or stressed. School is often the only safe, loving place for the students.”
Then there is Shannon Allsop, an elementary school educator in Salt Lake City, Utah. ‘What will happen to students with disabilities should new cuts occur?’ she asked.
“Our schools are already operating with too little support staff. It is a non-winnable fight to get aides for autistic children and children with other handicaps. The classrooms are overcrowded and the equipment and supplies are often hard to obtain. And you want to give schools less?”
Click on and share the infographic below to see what cutting $5 billion from education would mean for schools.