Budget Cuts in Education Essay

Drastic cuts in Florida’s educational system are in resulting increasing class sizes, the elimination of music, art, and other elective classes, the significant reduction in extracurricular activities, and a diminished ability to provide incentives for teachers to continue teaching. The effect of these changes will be a long term negative impact on teacher’s ability to teach and decrease our students’ ability to learn. Budget cuts are forcing qualified teachers out of the classroom where they are most effective and causing them to pursue other careers or academic endeavors.

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As stated in State Impact, because of the shortage of funds of over $170 million, Broward County alone has laid off more than 2,400 employees and most of them have been teachers (O’Connor, 2011). Andy Ford, president of the Florida Education Association, the statewide teachers union, said the union is expecting about 20,000 teacher layoffs (Castro, 2011). As a result of these layoffs, and current graduating teaching students, school districts are left with a surplus of teachers.

Many have the opportunity to come back to work before the next school year begins but may not be at the same school or even teaching the same grade level.

Because this is based on seniority, those teachers who have been laid off and unfortunately are not one of the chosen to go back to work, have been forced to go back to school to either continue to pursue their education career or pursue a completely different major. Recent layoffs have resulted in, expanded classroom sizes with potentially disastrous effect on student performance. There once was a time classrooms had a maximum of 20 students. In some states, classroom sizes have expanded to as much as 36 students in one class.

According to Science Daily, reports show that students in small classes in grades four through six consistently have better results than students in large classes. Those in small classes that had better cognitive and non-cognitive skills, had better scores on standardized national tests in grades six and nine, and perceived themselves as developing more self-confidence and greater patience (Expertanswer, 2012). Budget cuts that result in inreased class sizes need to be made with these considerations in mind.

Many people are not aware of the effect of music on students’ ability to learn and retain information, yet as documented previously, music classes are one of the first programs to be cut in this environment. According to Science Daily, there is now definitive proof of different brain development and improved memory of students who take music lessons when compared to those who do not (Press, 2006). “Not only do the brains of musically-trained children respond to music in a different way to those of the untrained children, but also that the training improves their memory as well.

After one year the musically trained children performed better in a memory test that is correlated with general intelligence skills such as literacy, verbal memory, visuospatial processing, mathematics and IQ” (Press, 2006). If it costs $2. 5 million to have an art program, music program, and physical education program, one can see why school are making these cuts, however; in the light of this research provided, we can see that these cuts will be coming at the expense of our students cognitive abilities.

As the budgets get smaller, and the expenses are getting bigger, specials and elective classes are being cut. Music and art have been eliminated in some schools. In others, it is just part time. Students are not getting the basic musical and artistic education, which were once available years ago. Teachers who used to teach elective classes are forced to teach core subjects if they still want a job. Physical education classes have also been cut in some schools or have been reduced significantly.

Some teachers work at two different schools. For example, three days out of the week, they may work at an elementary school and the other two days; they may work at a middle or high school. As a result to physical education being reduced or eliminated, childhood obesity may be more of a concern. Because physical activity has been extremely reduced in many households because of television, it is important that students have physical education in school. Teachers do not have many incentives to continue teaching.

There is no money to purchase simple materials for the classroom. As said in Public Good, Public Cuts; elementary schoolteachers have resorted to asking students to buy supplies at the beginning of the school year (Economists, 2011). A suggested list is available for the parents and these supplies are what the students will need for the duration of the school year. Many teachers spend their own money to purchase supplies as well. Students in middle school and high school do fundraisers to raise money for special events at their schools.

The effects of these budget cuts are impacting every area of students’ academic experience including the frequency of the update in the school textbooks. Schools typically updated their textbooks every few years, however; with these budget cuts; this researcher has found that students may be using the same textbooks for 10-15 years due to the lack of funds. Although this may not be an issue with some subjects, there are subjects, such as History and Social Studies that are subjects that require updated information as years go on. If students used the same textbook for 15 years, a History book would be missing three presidents.

Textbooks are an essential part of student’s education and if there are no funds to purchase new ones, students in the United States will be behind compare to other countries are much more advanced concerning education. Field trips and extracurricular activities have been reduced or eliminated. Students do not have the chance to go on all the field trips that were once upon a time offered. Field trips that are now taken tend to be at the cost of the parents. Parents have been forced to come out-of-pocket for the entire cost of field trips.

Schools also sponsor fundraisers to assist these parents in paying for some of those costly trips. For example, fifth grade students who are going on their end of the year trip may sell donuts or candy boxes in efforts to raise money to pay for that trip. Some schools do not have funding to continue specific sports. Fees have increased and parents are having pay out-of-pocket for student’s uniforms and to travel to games in order to continue these sport teams. Budget cuts are now negatively affecting the actual physical environment in which students learn.

According to State Impact, future possible district budget cuts in efforts to save jobs include “eliminating art, music, technology and/or reading teachers to save up to $4. 1 million, eliminating middle and high school athletic programs and saving $2. 2 million, and raising thermostats one degree to 78 degrees, the highest allowed by state law, saving $500,000” (O’Connor, 2011). With increasing class sizes and increase in temperatures, students will now be forced to learn in cramped, potentially uncomfortable conditions that will impact negatively student learning.

Given the negative impact of described these budget cuts, it would be wise to consider alternative options to deal with budget shortfalls. Other options of saving money are available, such as teachers taking extended holidays without pay. School district saved millions of dollars by closing all public schools two extra days during thanksgiving break. Schools should only have been closed Wednesday through Friday but the district managed to get approval to close Monday and Tuesday as well. The economic condition has affected drastically the public schools due to the budget cuts they have faced.

It has caused major setbacks because there is no money available to supply the materials these students need to learn effectively. At this rate, schools eventually will begin to shut down. Teachers have already begun to retire early because they can only foresee it getting worse. Something has got to give at this point, but it should not be at the expense of student’s education. If schools cannot teach students the simpler things, such as what encyclopedias are which may be an opportunity for parents to spend more bonding time with their children and take them to the library to learn new things.

Sooner than later, students in Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten will be attending school for half a day only instead of a full day in efforts to save money. It is imperative that parents encourage educational activities at home as well as physical activities. Broward County Schools are suffering drastically. Although they seem to have it figured out, cutting art, music, physical education, and other special programs may not be what is best for the students.

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