In 2011, President Barack Obama signed the Budget Control Act. This act would postpone any across-the-board budget cuts, or “sequesters,” until March 1, 2013. This gave Congress members two more years to work together to come up with a cohesive, bipartisan spending plan. However, this deadline came and went and no deals were made. These across-the-board cuts will affect everything from flight times to mail delivery — and more importantly, it will greatly change public education's funding.
Public education, in my opinion, is one of the greatest things about the United States and, at the same time, is probably one of our worst qualities. We are one of the only countries that guarantees a free education to all children in the country; that in itself is an amazing feat. Despite this, we treat our public educators like bureaucratic slaves as opposed to dedicated molders of the next generation.
The education department will see cuts to the tune of about $3 billion. The real kicker to this is that this money is cut evenly across all programs in education. This will eliminate jobs for teaching, balloon class sizes and deeply cut many safety net programs that have the sole purpose of helping children.
Class sizes in the U.S. public school system are already out of control. There have been reports of inner-city schools in New York having kids share desks and sit in windowsills to learn. Having these engorged class sizes not only puts incredible stress on an underpaid teacher, but also creates a negative environment for the child. When a negative environment is created, students stop wanting to learn, and this creates dropout factories.
The fact that safety-net programs will be cut is just another example of the rich getting richer and the poor falling into the gutters. Many in Congress do not have the incentive to fund public education — their kids go to private school. This is a continuation of those who can afford a private education getting it and those who cannot afford it getting an education riddled with overpopulated class sizes, outdated textbooks and frustrated leaders.
The most outrageous cuts include free and reduced lunch programs, special needs funding and Head Start programs. With free and reduced lunch programs being cut, fewer kids will be promised a hot meal. This hot lunch might be the only meal that kid gets for the day. Special needs funding would cut the one-on-one personalized learning experience some students require. Head Start allows children of families that could not afford preschool on their own to begin learning at an earlier age. Studies show this advantage can define a child's learning path as young as 3 years old.
I obtained my education from a public school system and my mother is a public elementary school librarian. This has given me the opportunity to see things from both a student and an educator's point of view. I had phenomenal, life-changing teachers - ones that not only taught me the curriculum, but also taught me an immeasurable amount of life lessons. However, I also had to share textbooks because there were not enough and I dealt with unfair standardized testing and a few teachers that had given up because they were not paid enough to care. I have also seen my mom, along with the teachers at her school, become exhausted and frustrated with the way our education system is going.
What is a teacher to do when a student does not speak English? Or the kindergarten teacher who knows a child had potato chips for breakfast? What about the kid in the class with bruises on her arms? All of these problems and more are left to be dealt with by teachers. Teachers benefit as much as students from government-funded second language programs, free and hot lunches and child abuse victim identification. All of these programs are things that Congress apparently does not find important.
With the current, extreme separation between socioeconomic classes, I am reminded of the time I spent working at an after-school program. I watched kids so much younger than me teach me so many lessons I had forgotten: when a girl forgot her lunch, others split sandwiches and chips. When one needed a pencil, it was offered without asking. Congress has forgotten those fundamental lessons of teamwork and morals. I ask you to remember one important lesson — sharing — and to go thank the teacher that taught you.
Start a discussion
Concurrence or rebuttal, if you have a strong opinion, let's hear it. The Maneater Forum seeks to publish a diversity of opinions and foster meaningful decision. Readers are encouraged to actively contribute to and develop new discussions. Add to ours, or make your own point.