SLATER LAWRENCE, Dana Point
Due to the economy and a decline in tax revenue, districts are looking to cut spending by as much as 20% for schools—a time when buildings need maintenance, utilities need to be paid and operations costs are fixed. Public schools’ infrastructure, for example, received a D-plus from the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Regrettably, the majority of these cuts will be targeted toward teachers, who make up 85% of public schools’ budget, consequently contributing to larger class sizes, lower student achievement and greater difficulty in social distancing.
This is an inflection point for teachers who are already facing stagnant wages, growing class sizes and fewer resources.
Funding will inevitably affect low-income districts disproportionately, as they take into account achievement levels, district size and location, and are “heavily” reliant on their districts and states’ revenue. They must also compete with other government services that have been stretched thin, such as Medicaid, along with public hospitals and housing.
While I am a fierce defender of education, such as a pathway to the middle class, I believe safety is the priority, and in-person learning should be executed in a deliberate, pragmatic and thoughtful way.
The myriad of challenges will require a multi-faceted approach and robust response.
While schools clearly need funding overall, the federal government specifically needs to simplify Electronic Health Records so they can be transferred from physicians to schools; leverage existing initiatives such as ECHO; increase Title I funding; and invest in the Individuals with Disability Act.
As citizens, we must end the epidemic of fear, thwart COVID-19’s cataclysmic impact and categorically fight to provide the social, human and educational capital needed for all students to thrive.