This web-based report from the Center for Public Education—an
initiative of the National School Boards Association—investigates the
short- and long-term impacts of the Great Recession on state and local
budgets and education funding. Its findings, at first glance, may be
termed sobering: In 2010, forty-eight states faced budget shortfalls,
with thirty-three of those states (and D.C.) cutting education spending.
At the local level, 78 percent of districts cut their budgets. Nor do
figures seem likely to improve for a while. As the CPE report states:
“Federal ARRA and Education Jobs funds are simply tourniquets for
hemorrhaging local and state education budgets.” That’s all true, but
what do we make of it? Rather than face the music, CPE simply pleads for
more bailouts. For instance, instead of using this moment to push for
health-care benefit and pension-package reforms, the CPE laments these
benefit reductions. The report concludes with an appeal for a “serious
national conversation” to drum up ways to provide more funding for
education. Yes, a serious national conversation on how to manage school
funding is overdue. But we also must be candid about the economic
realities of our education system—and do a better job of making lemonade out of this lemon of a situation.
Center for Public Education, “Cutting to the Bone: How the Economic Crisis Affects Schools,” (New York, NY: Center for Public Education, 2010).