What are YOU sacrificing for our children?

During this budget crisis in Texas, there’s been much talk, including from the Governor, of how school districts are to blame, and plenty of implications that teachers and administrators are living high off the hog and not doing their fair share in this budget environment.

So I asked colleagues around the state to share just some of the cost-cutting measures their districts are taking to save money, to show how districts are scraping the barrel trying to save funds.

But what I want to know is this–are our legislatures, state agencies,  and businesses going to the same penny-pinching lengths?   Are they working in the dark, shutting out all hallway lights, unplugging every computer in their buildings every weekend, printing on the backside of paper, being issued one ink cartridge a year, driving state vehicles with advertising on them, being prevented from traveling more than 50 miles from their offices, etc?

Yet it is okay to ask the schools serving our MOST important state client–our state’s children–to do this?    And is it okay for our children to see that this is how we are treating schools?  That their state doesn’t value them enough for them to even be able to keep the lights on or have books in their libraries or computers in their schools?

Legislators need to hear that districts ARE cutting costs and hear stories like these that I collected from all over the state of districts who were finding ways to trim costs by:

  • saving paper
  • reducing energy costs(including working in the dark, turning out all hallway lights, disallowing personal refrigerators or space heaters, monitoring a.c. and heating costs, etc.)
  • cutting summer school
  • teachers receiving one ink cartridge per year and limited paper; after that, it’s out of their own pocket
  • cutting back travel for junior varsity teams to only short range travel
  • increased class sizes, increased student:teacher ratios
  • teachers performing extra duties for less pay or teaching additional classes for same amount of pay
  • teachers paying more of health care costs
  • discontinuing mental health services at some facilities
  • unplugging every device in the building during longer breaks including computers
  • installing solar panels via a grant
  • not replacing school buses as often
  • allowing advertising on school buses or buildings
  • printing on the back sides of already used paper to reduce paper costs
  • discontinue reading programs
  • reduce or eliminate library budgets
  • eliminate computer purchases
  • allowing building rentals
  • reduce or disallow field trips
  • holding 2 “paperless days” per year
  • salary freezes; eliminating stipends for extra duties
  • purchasing new items for libraries by book fairs, selling hot chocolate

And many more items as well.  Not that I agree that some of these cuts are wise or good for students, but seeing them are why it makes me extremely angry when I hear legislators or lobbyists implying that teachers and schools are wasting money.     And as you can see some of the items– like cutting libraries, computers, class sizes, etc. –directly affect student learning, as do the many draconian staffing cuts across the state–staffing cuts made because the cost cutting efforts above cannot make up the budget difference alone.

And by posting this list, I’m not trying to ridicule the efforts of these districts–far from it.  I admire and applaud(as every legislator should) their persistence(and creativity) in trying to cut costs wherever they can, and preserve at least some teaching and instructional positions like librarians and technologists for their students.

But I have to ask again,  is our legislature going to these lengths themselves?  Are taxpayers?  Are state agencies?

We, as parents and adults are supposed to sacrifice for our children’s wellbeing–to always want them to have more than we had, to lift them up, to provide them with a good education and good health care.

I applaud districts who are doing everything they can to keep services for children intact, but I have to ask the Texas legislature and taxpayers–What are YOU sacrificing for our state’s children?

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