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Cutting to the Bone: All Students Feel The Pain of Slashed Budgets

Budget cuts affect students at every level. And, there is no end in sight.

By Kevin Jersey | Staff Writer
On April 21, 2012


Education budget cuts have become a national crisis. The immediate results of these cuts are seen in tuition increases and teacher lay-offs. However, the long-term effects are more troubling.

Lack of funding has handicapped educators at all levels, as early as pre-school. National Education Association research shows that students enrolled in pre-kindergarten programs like Head Start, which provides services to poverty-stricken children, perform better in school and are more likely to attend college.

Yet, the NEA reports that only percent of eligible children participate in the program due to insufficient funding. Despite its demonstrated success, Head Start is on the chopping block again. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., chairman of the House Budget Committee, proposed cutting 200,000 spots from the program to provide additional funds for defense spending.

Decreases in education funding also impact college students. Tuition at all California state universities and community colleges has been raised, but the increased fees do not offset the shortages caused by funding cuts. Schools have had to find alternate money-saving measures. Valley College, for example, has had to cancel most of its summer classes. CSU recently eliminated grants for 20,000 graduate students, encouraging them to take out interest-heavy loans to pay their tuition.

Funding cuts also hinder student performance. An Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development study shows a direct link between the amount spent per student and test scores. Students nationwide were tested in math and reading comprehension in fourth grade and again in eighth grade. On average, state test scores increased by 1 percent for each $1,000 spent per student.

Interestingly, there was little correlation between test scores and teacher salaries. Schools that hire additional teachers, enabling each student to receive more personal attention, scored better on tests than those that simply raised salaries for their existing teachers.

Yet, school districts are instead laying off teachers to save money. Many California teachers received "March 15" letters indicating that they would not be guaranteed a job for the next school year. In the Los Angeles Unified School District alone, more than 11,700 letters were issued. While some of these teachers will be fortunate enough to still be employed in the fall, many will not. Statewide, more than 32,000 teachers have been laid off since 2007, according to a report from California's legislative analyst's office.

Despite the obvious damage done by reducing education funding, the cuts continue. It is clear that there is a budget crisis, and it is just as clear that this is directly impacting students. As long as education is deprived of the funds it needs, students will suffer.

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