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February 25, 2010 01:02 AM UTC

Reality Check for Education Cuts? There's a Map for That!

  • 25 Comments
  • by: Great Education Colorado

( – promoted by Middle of the Road)

School Boards, administrators, teachers, and most importantly, students are grappling with how to deal with at least 6.12% cuts across the state for next year. Higher education institutions, students, and parents face possible tuition increases, as state funding for higher education faces down the Cliff.

We’re keeping close track of the impact of cuts across the state with local narratives (video and written), news articles, per pupil cut amounts, and specific cuts being considered. In fact, we’re giving people a chance to take action and add their stories to the Map telling state leaders what these cuts mean for students, that they’ve got to do everything possible to minimize cuts and to support a long-term solution to the P-20 education crisis.

What’s the story?The Great Futures Colorado Campaign made a map for that. Check it out:

Four Day School Week? There’s a Map (and Petition) for That!

Norwood School District

The school board is considering moving to a four-day school week next year, a change that could make up for about $50,000, or 25 percent, of the current necessary cuts. The four-day week would allow the district to reduce some personnel hours and transportation use, as well as save in food service and energy usage.

Increasing Class Sizes? There’s a Map (and petition) for That too!

Littleton

“There are already over 25-30 students in each classroom as a result of last years surrounding school closings. We took on those extra students. Now there are more proposed cuts which will reduce teacher headcount,para-professional headcount and specials headcount(PE, music and art)…our children are falling behind terribly.”

(Source: M.L., Littleton, Great Futures Map / Petition)

Fewer Critical Support Services? There’s Even a Map for That!

Salida

“After waves of cuts over the past year, the school district is now considering charging for bus service in this large and mostly rural county. We’ve also been told that the music program will be cut at my daughter’s elementary school.”

(Source: E.A.W., Salida, Great Futures Map/Petition)

Mancos

“As school nurse I deal primarily with the low income and the underinsured and uninsured…These kids usually turn to and rely on the school setting to meet their many needs: food, clothing, a community that cares for them. Our budgets are already stretched so thin that we scramble to assist these kids in crisis…any more cuts to our school system will be depriving these kids of basic services such as hot food for their hungry tummies and a chance for the extra help they need to succeed in school, in life and an opportunity to be productive adults….Children are our future- our hope for a better world – cut our funding and you most definitely will drastically reduce our hope for a better tomorrow.”

(Source: K.B., Mancos, Great Futures Map / Petition)

Comments

25 thoughts on “Reality Check for Education Cuts? There’s a Map for That!

  1. even though in the end – I’m not sure enough people car eto make it change.

    Why would anyone in Colorado change career mid-life to start teaching now?  Gotta be crazy.

    Negatives:

    – major expense to get licensed (not counting any opportunity cost)

    – staff cuts all over

    – social security offset reduces eventual ss distribution

    – PERA is f’d

    – common perception is that teachers are overpaid, underwroked whiners who have a great pension

    – no parking

    Positives

    Kids need great teachers and I am one.

  2. Proposing a temporary 6.12% pay cut for all school employees? (Say 10% for the highest paid down to 3% for the lowest – but so it’s 6.12% in total dollars.)

    Many many people in the private sector have taken temporary pay cuts of 10% or more as their companies work through the recession. It’s a good way to address this where no one then is laid off.

    ???

    1. I wouldn’t necessarily say teachers are “overpaid,” but they do get better than average retirement plans, work 9 months out of the year, etc…  And they all start well above the poverty line, meaning a 3% cut for the lowest earning teachers wouldn’t put them in a precarious financial situation.  They would have to cut back on some things (maybe making coffee at home rather than a trip to Starbucks), but that’s the kind of sacrifice virtually everybody in the middle class (and below) is making at the moment.  It’s more than a fair trade if the alternative is laying some teachers off completely.

      It would be an interesting discussion to come up with some ways we would all deem acceptable to cut expenses in education.  I wonder, for example, whether it would be effective/efficient for students at the high school level to be taught core subjects in college-like lecture halls.

        1. I’m pretty sure they get a paycheck 12 months out of the year.  Teachers start in the low $30,000-$35,000 range, if I’m not mistaken.  That’s in line with a lot of entry-level salaried jobs.  Obviously they aren’t “overpaid” (well, not the good teachers anyway).  But your liberal friend David proposed the idea of across the board pay cuts.  I just agreed with him.

          1. David is not liberal.

            And they can either get a paycheck 12 months that divides it by 52 and pays them in the summer, or they can get paid more during the school year and forgo their checks during the summer.

            What I was getting at is that your talking point isn’t really an argument for teachers to take a pay cut. There might be merit to the idea, but saying that they work 9 months and get paid for 12 is misleading.

            Teachers also do a lot more work than most “entry level” positions. Because there’s not very much money, they have to fork over a ton of out of pocket expenses, and they don’t get reimbursed. They work late, and come in early. They work weekends. And when people come looking for budget cuts, they say teachers should pay their fair share. Well guess what, they already do.

            1. …in the Colorado public education system more recently than you, and I can confirm that you’re right.  But only some teachers do that.  I know plenty who don’t fall into that category.  Merit based pay would be a good thing for teachers, but under a system of government regulation I’m not sure it’s feasible.  There’s no fair way to do it on such a massive scale.

              In any case, there are lots of people who work incredibly hard, and do jobs even less desirable than teaching, and they have been taking their own hits.  I don’t hate teachers, but you’re not going to earn my sympathy for them taking a 3% cut (for those at the bottom) or up to a 10% cut (for those at the top) in this economic climate.

              1. I might be a little bit older. I graduated HS in 2002. From BVSD too, of which I think you mentioned you were a product.

                I think the key is to find the middle ground between what you and David are talking about, what the unions will agree to, and what this Rhode Island school district decided to do for a school that wasn’t living up to the needs of its students.

                Personally, I don’t like the idea of across the board cuts. I think that whatever money we’re saving with the proposed 6.12% is going to come back to bite us in the ass down the line when the state is financially solvent again. But if there are going to be cuts, I think that the individual teachers shouldn’t have to fork over the brunt of it. We should look for all of the other areas we can cut, and cut teacher salaries as a last resort.

            2. Because a liberal sees that providing a quality education to our poor is the only way to give them a somewhat level playing field.

              And someone who is truly liberal also sees that ironclad job security is socalism, not liberalism.

              1. Why support a system that doesn’t work?  Why give every teacher the same raise when some of them don’t deserve it?

                I’m a fucking redneck when it comes to education.  I want results.

                You do too.  Admit it.

                1. I’m a fucking redneck when it comes to education.  I want results.

                  You do too.  Admit it.

                  Damn straight I’m with you! But you and I are the liberals. From the Google:

                  * having political or social views favoring reform and progress

                  * tolerant of change; not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy, or tradition

                  * a person who favors a political philosophy of progress and reform and the protection of civil liberties

              2. There’s no middle ground to be had. You want salaries cut, and tenure diminished, and the less rednecked of us would like to see teachers get paid more, and tenure to stay in place.

                I think there needs to be a meeting of the minds on this issue, wherein the reform people need to admit that teachers are grossly underpaid, and the unions and their supporters need to admit that we need merit-based pay, and an easier way to fire under performing teachers who have achieved tenure.

                But right now this discussion has gone nowhere. The bottom line is that we need to be improving our education system, and the best way to do that is to try to lure intelligent people away from the private sector and into a job that pays significantly less. The best way to do that isn’t by cutting their salary by 3%-10% before they even get out of the gate.

                1. As long as it’s merit based and the incompetent are fired. With that said…

                  I think what the schools should do today is either:

                  1) Layoff based on merit rather than seniority. Then as the economy comes back you’ve got a legit argument for more money for merit based raises.

                  2) Do across the board temporary pay-cuts, as many private companies have done. As with the private companies this says nothing about the value of teachers, it speaks only to the budget constraints we face in this recession.

          2. If you were to hire a skilled worker, who had gone through a Bachelor program plus a teaching certification – and preferably had a Master’s degree (hey, we’re in a jobs crunch – best qualified applicants only need apply…) – would you think of paying them $30-35k per year?

            A fresh-out-of-school Bachelor programmer makes significantly more than that in this state.  A newly minted engineer makes more than that.  A starting translator might make that amount, depending on their language specialties…

            And no, it isn’t appropriate to talk about a 9-month job schedule.  First, there’s a period of time before the start of the new school season where teachers put together their lesson plans for the year.  Second, there’s both subject matter training and education training that teachers attend during the off-season.  Forth, some teachers teach summer classes.  And that’s just things that shorten the summer break – it doesn’t count the hours spent grading paperwork at home, or short-term lesson planning/review, or spending your own money on school supplies, or…

            Teachers are under-paid.  They’ve been under-paid for a long while now, and these budget cuts are not going to help.  If we value our childrens’ future, we need to attract high-quality teachers, and that means paying them what they’d be worth in the private sector doing work related to their (often advanced) degrees.

            Considering that their work schedule.

            1. Most business majors are starting in that range right now. Engineers make more, but English majors make less. Starting at 30K-35K for a year round job is a reasonable starting salary compared to the private sector.

              1. I can point you to salary sites that quote starting salaries, and aside from the “liberal arts” majors that don’t have much in the way of associated private sector jobs, starting salaries for these degrees are almost always higher – and sometimes significantly higher.  (I will make an exception for business degrees – which I think have flooded the market – but we’re not paying for a lot of business teachers.)

                It is a disgrace that we pay starting science and math teachers at the rates quoted, and IMHO competent English teachers should be payed as much as the sciences because without them the science teachers would be producing illiterate researchers.  While I’m at it, I’ll throw in paying other liberal arts teachers the same – it was my History teacher who taught source and bias analysis…

                Also, let’s not talk ‘right now’ – let’s talk about the way things were two years ago (since the private sector leads the public sector by about that length of time).

                Finally, in many fields we really don’t want to compare top teacher salaries to top private sector salaries – that would be an embarrassment to all those who claim they’re paying teachers enough to give their kids the best chance to succeed…

              2. With NCLB you have to have a degree in the subject matter you’re teaching. How can we expect people with math and science degrees to teach public schools when they could not only be making two or three times more in the private sector, but their pay is getting slashed if they decide to go into education.

                And 1st year teachers don’t get 30K-35K. BR just made that number up. Most starting teachers get between 28K and 30K depending on education and credit hours.

                1. You are confusing two issues. Right now there is less money for everyone (except the bankers who caused this problem). We’ve all had our pay reduced.

                  What’s interesting is that while most everyone in the private sector has gone through this and has understood why it was necessary, in the public sector there is major resistance to this. And everyone takes it as not valuing them as much – when it’s not that at all.

  3. Ya gotta check out this Chicago-style stimulus action.

    Apparently the Durango School district is $2.9 MILLION dollars short. The District is asking for input over the internet tubes as to what should be cut. http://www.durangoherald.com/s

    What was the Administrations answer to helpout Durango … well they gave $3 MILLION to some squirrel-bait DRCOGish government consortium to build a fiber networks within and between government buildings.  http://www.durangoherald.com/s

    Absolutely brilliant.  Durango teachers will be fired, but government employees get shiny new fibers to email each other over and surf the internet with.

    Somebody needs to call Stan and Kyle in South Park, Colorado!

  4. The City of Denver is so concerned about fiscal responsibility and The People’s Tax Money that they conduct these types of investments … as reported by Denver’s Channel 4

    http://cbs4denver.com/investig

    Just think about the ankle grabbing forced on Denver Police, Teachers and Firemen … then consider this….

    Despite city-wide furloughs, layoffs and an unprecedented city budget crisis, several Denver City Council members have been generous with local non-profits, giving them thousands of dollars in taxpayer money in 2009.

    “Enough is enough,” said Councilman Charlie Brown when shown what CBS4 had found. “I don’t think we should do this.”

    snip

    In a report filed Jan. 29, at-large City Council member Carol Boigon reported giving $1,550 of her office budget to 31 non-profit groups, like the Colorado Colfax Marathon ($50), Rocky Mountain PBS ($35), and a host of other charitable causes. The most controversial donation was $70 given to “NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado,” an abortion rights advocacy group that provides a directory of where to find abortion providers in Colorado.

    “And for a council member to take tax money and give it to NARAL, you’ve got to be kidding. I would be outraged,” Brown said. “That takes a lot of nerve. That’s not her money. That’s taxpayer money.”

    snip

    Overall though, Boigon defended the donation program.

    “But it allows me to support those programs and non-profits that are working on things that are important to the city in my view.”

    [note to readers: Like what Boigon, helping to justify the mayor’s tax hikes?]

    At-large councilman Doug [“Rod Blagojevich”] Linkhart said the down economy has prevented him from giving virtually any of his own money to charity in recent months. But at the same time, he was extremely generous when it came to donating city money [ahem, that is code for The Taxpayer’s money] to charities, spending about $5,000 of his 2009 office budget on small donations to non-profits.

    “It’s part of our work,” Linkhart said. “The non-profits I work with and give money to are focused on our priorities as a city council and me as an individual.”

    snip

    “When times are tough,” said Linkhart, “non-profits are more important. We have to lean on them to get done what the city wants done.”

    [note to readers: was this because he and the mayor fucked over the Police, kicked Firemen, made Parks go brown and forced Teachers to take less pay?]

    Linkhart — who is considering running for mayor in the future — attended some 38 dinners, luncheons, benefits and awards ceremonies last year, all paid for by Denver taxpayers. He said he is not trying to curry political favor with various groups by showing up at their events; rather ‘it gives them extra credibility for me to come to their events. If they didn’t have support from public officials they wouldn’t be able to get as many donations from others.”

    snip [… and note to Denver voters: Linkhart should be voted out of office]

    But his fellow councilman, Charlie Brown, is adamant that the practice should stop.

    “And I just say no more taxpayer money to charity. If you want to give to charity, write your own check. I think we need to be more thoughtful when opening the checkbook and it’s the citizens’ checkbook. It’s not our checkbook, it’s taxpayer money, it’s not my money.”

    snip

    That Charlie Brown … he’s the man.

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