It has been three years since the Texas Legislature voted to cut $5.4 billion from education funding, and despite attempts at restoration, our schools are still 6,500 positions short of where they were before 2011. If you lost your job due to a lack of funding, back to school doesn’t necessarily mean back to work.
This doesn’t only impact teachers – all positions in schools, including support staff, are still hurting from the impact of these cuts. And if these numbers are any indication, this won’t be changing any time soon.
In an infographic shared on Twitter, user @DeLunaEva took the Staff FTE Counts from TEA and turned them into a sobering visual representation of the budget cuts’ continuing impact:
— Eva DeLuna (@DeLunaEva) August 12, 2014
Counselors have become even more important after the passage of House Bill 5. Now that high schools are required to offer more options to students, and students are required to opt in to a program allowing them to qualify for the top ten percent, counselors are absolutely necessary in making sure no student falls through the cracks. Instead, counselors, like most support staff, are the first to go when cuts must be made. Even worse, the counselors that remain spend a large chunk of their time at school administering standardized tests.
These funding cuts, and their lasting impact on employment at public schools, are deeply political. They happened after the Tea Party wave in 2010, and an opposition to education funding remains in the Tea Party-heavy Texas GOP.
But, voters have a clear decision when it comes to education funding this November. When the funding cut was originally proposed, Wendy Davis took to the Senate floor for her first filibuster to stand up for public education. If Wendy Davis had been governor at the time, she would have vetoed the bill. Greg Abbott is currently defending the budget cuts in court.