It's well known that in the wake of the recession, public services are getting cut left and right. But a new report shows just how hard schools have been hit in Texas.
According to the Washington, DC-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), state and local funding for pre-K-12 education in Texas is 11.2 percent below 2008 levels after adjusting for inflation and the growth of the student population. And the worst part is that it could have been avoided, or at least offset.
From Texas' Center for Public Policy Priorities (not to be confused with the CBPP):
The federal government's failure to continue emergency financial aid to states and school districts also hurt. Federal dollars from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act helped Texas avoid education cuts initially, through fiscal 2011, and the federal Education Jobs Fund softened the blow to Texas school districts in 2012. But Texas' unwillingness to replace the federal money with state dollars led to $5.3 billion in state pre-K-12 cuts in the 2011 legislative sessions.
In just the 2011-2012 school year, the cuts resulted in over 25,000 layoffs of teachers and support staff around Texas, stalling the already fragile economic recovery. And with fewer teachers, many schools were forced to obtain waivers so that their classrooms could exceed class size limits – the only way they could accommodate all of their students given their level of staff.
Unfortunately, Texas isn't alone in the choices it has made. According to the CBPP:
“Twenty-six states are providing less funding per student to local school districts in the new school year than they provided a year ago. These funding cuts have been modest, but, in many states, they come on top of severe cuts made in previous years.”
Throughout the Republican National Convention, we heard time and time again that if we just scale back government, we'll finally be on our way to creating jobs and opportunity. And schools are just one of the many areas of cuts where we can see it's simply not true. Because jobs in local governments and schools are still jobs. And in this case, they're really important ones.