Sunday, October 27, 2019

At a Time of Less, Schools Need More

I realize that the country is going to get precious little in terms of public education out of the know-nothings who are presently in charge, and the chief of that group, Betsy DeVos, has unfortunately stayed on while other cabinet members have fallen away due to having some common sense or scandals that in previous administrations wouldn't allow them to be unattended in Lafayette Park, much less have an office in the White House.

And honestly, I can't say that I supported President Obama's approach to education because it relied far too heavily on punishing teachers for student test scores that might be influenced by some minor inconveniences like poverty, divorce, disease, hunger, or emotional problems. At least, though, Obama had some understanding of the importance of the public school system. DeVos and Trump are happy to let the system atrophy on the alter of private enterprise and competition, without seeing that every school, no matter where it is located, must provide a thorough, excellent, modern education for the children who attend.

With the budget deficit reaching $1 trillion dollars, I can't imagine that there will be any new federal spending on education, and the states are constrained by their requirements to balance their budgets. Yes teachers education professionals continue to strike, not just over pay, but over the health of their students. This article details many of the demands that these professionals are making, and in many cases they're not about salary.

One of the most troubling facts is that only 39% of schools employs a full-time nurse. That's shockingly low, even if there's a part-time person or a nurse on call. All schools should have a full-time nurse because you never know when a child will need one, and any delay can result in a tragedy. The same is true for school psychologists and an adequate number of guidance counselors. More and more children now rely on these vital resources, yet districts are not providing them in numbers to meet the demand.

The political winds have shifted back to the states on education after a robust era that began with George W. Bush. The result is less federal influence and more local control. This is generally how we've run education for most of our history, but with local control come local constraints, and most of those are fiscal. This means that school districts that struggle to raise funds will continue to do so and will not be able to adapt to the changing needs of their constituents.

Remember that we're talking about children. We must meet our obligations.

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