... why, when the economy fails, education is one of the first things to go.
Last week a public school teacher I know called in sick. Two weeks ago, standard operating procedure would be to call the subbing placement office and get someone to administer the teacher's carefully prepared emergency sub plans. Last week, due to budget cuts, there was no more money for subs. The class was split up into groups and dispersed among the other grades to do busywork in back of the classes. That's an entire school disrupted and 20 kids' day wasted.
It's not as if there's nothing else to cut. My proposal is here somewhere, but you will have to sit through my rant to get there. Sorry :-)
You may already know that I'm a teacher. An unemployed teacher. Why? Because the department of education is overstaffed. The teacher shortage is a myth. What's more, with the budget cuts firmly in place, schools are reluctant to hire highly qualified teachers because we cost more. Now, the union pay scale is a wonderful thing for ensuring that teachers don't get grossly underpaid, but this is where it backfires. Most of the people I know who are first getting their education degrees now have opted not to earn their master's degrees, even though they were originally planning to do so for professional development, because it would put them in a higher pay bracket before they've had a chance to make enough friends in high places. The higher pay for master teachers was originally instituted to encourage teachers to become more highly qualified. Whatever!
Despite this state of affairs, the department of education inexplicably continues to perpetuate the teacher shortage myth. Subway ads in prime locations wax sentimental about the joys of teaching in city schools. Adding insult to injury, Teaching Fellows continues to recruit career changers and pay for their graduate education and teacher certification. This means that instead of paying qualified teachers to do what they have always wanted and trained to do (on their own tab), they are paying unqualified people from a variety of other fields to teach kids and earn master's degrees of their own. Mind, these people would not pay for my master's degree, because I have always wanted to be an educator and this program is for career-changers.
OK, so why don't you punish people for their willingness to invest in the education of your children by making them struggle and pay for their certification while giving their jobs to people whose majors were in engineering or somesuch. Of course, if you do that you will have to provide them with mentors and support and all that, because after all they only had maybe twelve credits in education before they hit the classroom. You're also taking a gamble that they will cop out after the requisite two years (usually in your worst schools, a real turn-on), realizing that engineering really was their calling after all.
So here's your answer for keeping more money in education where it belongs.
First of all, cancel all those ridiculous subway ads, and give the space back to people who can afford it, like Bud Light. When demand for teaching jobs is high and supply is low, there is no need to advertise.
Secondly, cut funding for Teaching Fellows. You don't need to cut ALL of it, but a good lot can go. You don't need the teachers. You do need the money. So keep the money and let the career-changers pay at least some of their own way.
With the savings from the above, put qualified teachers in the schools that need them. This might cost money, but you do generally get what you pay for. I'm not saying all teachers in high salary steps are worth their salt, but for the most part they had to learn something to get there. You probably end up with more efficiency in the long run. And more achievement, because in education there are some concerns besides the money.
You know, I'd rather have a job and get a little less for it. Especially if it means that the money will be spent on education instead of subway ads. And that's just the one example I could think of offhand. There are innumerable other inefficiencies going on.