Budget cuts and public schools

Politicians like to say that education is a priority and that children are valued in this country. As steep budget cuts spawn teacher layoffs nationwide, such claims ring increasingly hollow. In our district, more than 53 percent of the children live in poverty, as measured by the federal free or reduced-price lunch program. Currently, we’re seeking more faith and business partners to help fill backpacks with food so fewer kids go hungry whens schools are closed. For many, their only nutritious meals are served at school. These are the same children who don’t have access to doctors, dentists, medicine, warm clothing and stable housing, at least not on a regular basis. There’s no doubt these students can learn and achieve at high levels. There’s also no doubt that they’re going to need more support along the way than their more affluent peers whose childhoods aren’t marked by the daily struggle to survive. These supports take resources, like longer school days, longer school years, smaller class sizes, more technology and classroom tools, and more adults who believe in them. Yet here we are, contemplating how to do more with less.

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