Sunday, March 19, 2017

How Trump's budget cuts will affect class size- here in NYC and nationwide

Trump’s proposed budget would slash overall education funding for the Department of Education by $9 billion, and roll back education funding (excluding Pell Grants) to pre-2002 levels, despite 8.6 million more students in our classrooms according to the NEA.

The Trump budget has a huge number of damaging cuts, but the biggest one in K12 education is the total elimination of Title IIA funds at about $2.4 billion. 

This funding goes to states for teacher training -- or to pay for teachers to reduce class size.  More commonly these days, the funding is being used to avoid sharp class size increases. All states and districts receive these funds currently, though districts with more disadvantaged kids get a larger share.

These cuts would be especially devastating considering class sizes are already very high in NYC and elsewhere around the country, as school budgets have still not recovered from the huge cuts made during the great recession.  

Nationwide, while the number of public K-12 teachers and other school staff fell by 221,000 since 2008, the number of students increased by 1,120,000.  In NY state, the total number of teachers in New York state public schools fell by about 26,000 between 2008-2015, according to NYSED statistics. 

In NYC, where we already had the largest classes in the state, we have lost about 10,000 K12 general education teaching positions since the recession.   The result is that general ed and inclusion class sizes are even larger than before – in K-3, bigger than in 1999; in 4-8th grades,  than in 2004.

The Title IIA program has existed at least since Eisenhower administration, and until the year 2000 was used mostly for teacher training.  Then President Clinton created a separate funding stream to help districts lower class size, that was folded into Title IIA teacher training funds by George W. Bush when he became President. In 2014, about 30% of Title IIA funds were being used to hire teachers or keep them on staff.

You can see how much your state currently receives in Title IIA funds here; or if you live in NY state, how much your district was allocated , for a total of $178 million. 
In NYC, contrary to several news reports, the entire Title IIA amount of $101 million was distributed to schools this year for the specific purpose of avoiding further class size increases, according to this DOE allocation memo.
In addition, Trump wants to cut spending on afterschool programs by $1.2 billion as well as many worthwhile higher ed programs.  He also wants to increase funding to private schools and charter schools by $1.4 billion: $1 billion for Title I portability – so poor kids can take their funding directly to charter schools; $250 million for a new private school voucher program; and a direct increase of $168 million for charter schools.  

Of course, the ultimate goal of Trump and Betsy DeVos is by increasing class size, they will manage to drive more children into charter and private schools.  Already parents cite smaller classes as one of their top reasons for choosing charters. Soon I will post an Action Alert regarding how to fight these egregious cuts.

Meanwhile, check out the below for the proven benefits of small classes – which not only increase achievement, and improve non-cognitive skills, parental involvement and school climate but also to significantly reduce disciplinary problems and teacher attrition rates.

No comments: