Thursday, October 16, 2008

Education budget cuts will get even worse

Just over a year ago, I predicted extreme belt-tightening ahead in state budgets. After looking at my retirement savings, I wish that I wasn’t so right. Now we read that 29 states face a total shortfall of $48 billion. And the states that were immune last year to the real estate crumble because they had oil and natural gas revenues are going to be hit hard with oil down under $80.

This is all very bad news for education spending. It will go down and it will go down hard.

At the Broad event, it was of deep concern to the superintendents on the panel. They felt it was going to hit their students and that they were going to have to make very difficult changes. They are going to have to get help from the community. What they were not doing is whining. They seemed to take it in stride and stayed focused on the kids.

States have got to find ways to cut that don’t adversely affect student learning. They need to find efficiencies in their systems that can fully leverage the smaller budgets they are going to find.

Programs like ABCTE that have been funded with federal dollars to reduce their recruitment cost is an excellent example. States and districts don’t pay a dime for our program yet they receive high quality teachers who stay in the classroom (85% retention after 4 years). Instead of providing a four year scholarship for a math teacher to Florida State, that money could be used to scholarship 100 math teachers through ABCTE. Instead of paying $5,000 - $7,000 per teacher for a recruitment program in the district, the district could work with ABCTE at $2,500 per teacher.

These are significant savings and could help save after school programs, reading programs that make our schools better.

If we can only get leaders to stop looking at the politics and look at the results – we can make this happen.

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