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Of Budget Cuts, Schools and Students

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. was in private practice for more than thirty years. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the states ...Read More

With children back in school, many school districts, children and families face the reality of budget cuts that are causing a shorter school week, more crowded classrooms and fewer teachers. Add to this the fact that many classrooms need newer computers and, in some cases, need computers because they were never integrated into the schools for the use of students. Yet, anxiety is often expressed about the quality of education in the United States and the ability of our kids to compete with foreign students from other technologically advanced nations.

At one time there was a hope that the school day and year could be extended in order to increase the opportunity for learning. It was also believed that, during the long summer vacation, many youngster lose the advances they made during the previous school year. It was thought that a longer school year could help students maintain what they had already learned while going on to learn more. All of that is negated by the fact of budget cuts that fail to provide the money needed to support a longer school year and day. In point of fact, in many school districts, the teachers have been furloughed in order to cut the budget and the week has been shortened to four days instead of the usual five.

During the 1970’s and 80’s it was shown that smaller classes allow students to have more individual time with teachers, provide the opportunities to adjust classroom activities to the individual needs of students who have different learning styles and give allow teachers to have fewer tests and papers to grade so that they can give more time to these important tasks. Teacher fatigue was thought to have a negative impact on the classroom. Teacher layoffs and furloughs negate any of that so that classrooms are back up to thirty students. Add to that the fact that Middle and High School teacher carry a teaching load of five classes per day, their student load become 150 students per week, a heavy load the prohibits creativity and individual time to youngsters.

it is clear that, the budget cuts on public education have many negative effects to the quality of education in the United States. Starting with the reduced school week, this has the effect of interrupting consistency in learning and in the process reducing the students’ ability to internalize what they learn in class. When the class size is increased, teachers are more overwhelmed by the volume of work and the speed of students grasping issues is reduced. Finally, slower learners who need extra time to learn are deprived of that opportunity as are bright youngsters who need a more enriched environment in which to learn.

It is interesting to note that, while school budgets are cut, people have plenty of money for season tickets to baseball, football and hockey games. They also have plenty of money for large screen televisions, luxury cars and long vacations. Something is wrong with our priorities, isn’t there?

What are your thoughts and opinions? Your comments and opinions are welcome.

Keep Reading By Author Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.
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