By Amanda Litvinov
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Governors across the nation have begun to reveal their priorities through budget proposals and state of the state addresses–and too many are making reckless decisions about public education.
A recent study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows that most states already invest less in education than they did before the recession hit nearly a decade ago. Here’s what that looks like:
So why are governors and lawmakers in some states continuing to cut resources from the public schools most families rely on? Because it allows them to lavish tax cuts on the wealthy and rich corporations, funnel public money into private schools through voucher schemes, and support unaccountable, for-profit charter schools.
Here are a few of the potentially damaging proposals we’ve seen so far:
Newly elected governor Eric Greitans is doing things his way—which is “cut first, think later.”
Although he promised “not a penny would be cut from K-12 schools,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that he indeed withheld more than $14 million from K-12 programs.
Higher education was hit even harder, with over $70 million in cuts to institutions and scholarships
for students. Over $56 million was cut from funding for four-year institutions and $12 million from
community colleges. The state’s A+ scholarship fund was also reduced by $3 million.
Curiously, Gov. Greitans did not present a budget overview in his state of the state address, which has some state lawmakers concerned. The Missouri NEA urges the governor and legislature to make the state’s tax credit programs more accountable and reduce their harmful effects on schools and our students.
In his state of the state address earlier this week, Gov. Brian Sandoval proposed significant funding for private school vouchers, or education savings accounts (ESAs).
The Nevada State Education Association (NSEA) and the more than 40,000 educators it represents in Nevada strongly oppose any public funding of vouchers. NSEA calls on Nevada lawmakers to redirect revenue the governor wants earmarked for vouchers to proven programs helping all students.
“The proposed monies for private school vouchers could go a long way to better teach students who are English language learners, low-income or have learning disabilities,” said Ruben Murillo, Jr., a special education teacher and current NSEA President. “We should build on the good from the last legislative session to fully fund science, technology, engineering, arts and math programs; universal pre-school; and literacy programs so every student can read by the third grade.”
Gov. Hogan has proposed doubling funding for the voucher scheme that the Maryland State Education Association has called “his Trump-like initiative that sends taxpayer money from public schools to private schools.”
MSEA President Betty Weller, a middle school science teacher, released the following statement:
“According to independent experts, Maryland’s public schools currently have $2.9 billion less than what they need to help every child succeed. Our kids rely on strong neighborhood public schools to prepare them for a college education and stable career—and we have a moral obligation to fill those equity gaps.
“That’s why Maryland educators are deeply frustrated by Gov. Hogan’s proposal to drain twice as many resources from our public schools to subsidize private schools. The governor’s alliance with President-elect Donald Trump—who has proposed the idea of using $20 billion in taxpayer money for private school vouchers—on privatizing our public schools should be alarming to every Marylander who believes in the importance of public education.”
Learn more about Gov. Hogan’s false claim that his voucher program doesn’t hurt public schools.
If you’d like to nominate your governor for our next roundup, leave us a comment!