Op-Ed: Assistant editor shares concerns about Washington’s most recent budget cuts

By Alex Pinsk || Assistant Opinion & Editorial Editor

Photo courtesy of commondreams.org

Education is essential, now more than ever. With the new and changing political climate, the state of international affairs, and current social policies, it is crucial that everyone receives a solid education from a young age.

However, recently budget cuts have been increasingly prominent in public schools throughout the nation. Despite the fact that it has been ten years since the recession in the United States and the fact that there could certainly be money located for educative purposes, the government is limiting the amount of money that is spent on public education. Why is this? Many officials think that it might be better to ration out some of the education budget for other purposes. Claiming that students will get the same quality of education whether or not funding decreases slightly, the government thinks that money might be better used to support different establishments. However, if they saw what budget cuts are doing to schools, they might think differently.

Different state governments have limited education budgets by different amounts. However, often, these cuts can result in fewer or unequipped facilities, such as classrooms, gyms, labs. In fact, many schools have had to eliminate competitive sports all together. Sports facilities – tracks, gyms, fitness centers – cost money, and many institutions determine that sports may be the least necessary aspect of a grade school. Sports and gym classes, however, are an important aspect of a student’s education, as they can be an outlet and are often the one time that children can get exercise during the week. Additionally, budget cuts can mean less funding for the arts. Arts are a huge part of any school experience. Inclusive of studio art, theater, dance, photography, etc., art classes can provide a chance for students to express themselves in different ways. Often a break from one’s standard academic courses, some sort of arts curriculum, no matter how small, is essential for a school’s success. Due to money shortages, many public schools are getting rid of all art classes and facilities. This can be detrimental to an education, as many students’ favorite class is art.

Foreign language classes are, too, often some of the first classes to disappear following a budget cut. Because they are not you traditional math, English, or science classes, schools often feel it necessary to eliminate languages before any of the other core subjects. Learning languages leads to so many opportunities that one may not be able to experience otherwise, and having the option to study a language should be required in all public schools. Alas, this is not the case.

Of perhaps greater worry is the decrease in faculty at many schools. When there is not a surplus of money for education, the government often thinks it best to reduce the population size of the faculty. In doing so, a school must increase its class sizes, combining two, sometimes three, classes into one. My belief is that, the more students in a class, the less attention each student is given from the teacher, the more difficult it is for a teacher to control the class, and ultimately the less productive a class is. Without at least some careful attention paid to each student, the kids who want to learn are in an environment where it is nearly impossible to do so, and those who could care less about school are not supported or encouraged to work harder. This is, evidently, a bad situation for all involved. If a school is going to limit its facilities, it should at least maintain its small class sizes to promote higher-quality education. However, truth be told, sometimes schools do not have the money, and the government has yet to understand that.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “[t]hese cuts weaken schools’ capacity to develop the intelligence and creativity of the next generation of workers and entrepreneurs.” The goal of schools is to educate students in a variety of different subjects and to prepare them for life to follow. When seventy students are stuffed into a small classroom with one teacher, when they are denied the possibility of taking an art class or a language class or playing a sport, when they fail each class and the teacher does not have time to help them, it should be obvious that there is something wrong. Our education system in many states and many districts is plummeting. Children are not supported nor encouraged to learn and do not have the facilities to do so. High-quality education is one of the most significant aspects of a person’s life. Sure, wealthy regions may have exceptional education systems; however, the reality is that most of the United States does not have access to that kind of learning. Education is an integral part of life, and should, in theory, be as important as the building of highways and aid of the environment because the truth is that the more educated US citizens become, the greater help they will be in protecting the environment, the more they will know about the aspects of the country that matter most.

Budget cuts should not be made with respect to education. The government should ensure that public schools be funded and equipped with the necessary facilities. Our future is in education. If students are not educated, they will be in no position to protect our planet, aid our country, and understand the political, social, and economic climate around them. We should be thinking twice about the extent to which limiting the education budget is negatively affecting the country as a whole.

Schools need money to provide substantial education, and substantial education is crucial. Period. There is no denying these facts.

First-year Alex Pinsk is the Assistant Opinion & Editorial Editor. Her email is mpinsk@fandm.edu.

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