The first news story I read this morning concerned the impact drastic budget cuts will have on Detroit public schools, that could force closing half their school and increasing class sizes to 60. Right after that, I came across another story of a school official in Dallas who opines that, you know what, kids really don’t need 12th grade. And coincidentally as I was reading that story, I was heard on Fox News that 86 girls are pregnant in one Tennessee high school. What a way to start the day in our educationally-challenged country.
It’s no surprise that schools in every state this year will face draconian budget cuts. With property taxes down, income tax revenue down, pension obligations up and federal stimulus over, there simply is not enough money. Every year we see the scare tactics by the teachers unions that budget cuts will see kids in the streets instead of in school, which almost always leads to the funding they want. But 2011 is different. The money is simply not there.
Let’s get a taste of each story.
Increase Class Size to 60
Today’s big story in state budget problems is the dire straits of Detroit Public School System, who will have to close almost half of its schools during 2012-13 and increase the class sizes to 60 in 2014, if a deficit-reduction plan filed with the state is put in effect. Let’s go to the Detroit News for the details:
Starting this fall, the district plans to boost class sizes in grades 4-12 and at all grade levels by fiscal 2012, which begins July 1, to save $16.8 million. The plan would hike class sizes for: Grades K-3 from 17-25 students to 29 in 2012-13 and 31 in 2013-14.
Grades 4-5 from 30 students to 37 in 2012-13 and 39 in 2013-14.
Grades 6-8 from 35 students to 45 in 2012-13 and 47 in 2013-14.
Grades 9-12 from 35 students to 60 in 2012-13 and 62 in 2013-14.
Kids Don’t Really Need 12th Grade
Former Dallas Independent School System superintendent Linus Wright thinks he has a better idea: Eliminate the 12th grade. Local ABC affiliate KVUE has the details:
He argues the senior year of high school is the most wasted year of education. By the time most high school students reach their senior year, they’ve already completed most required courses.
Wright says the state would be better off using the money for early-childhood development.
What the hell, only 61% of Texas’ 9th graders go on to graduate anyway.
There’s Just Having Sex At School Anyway,
This has nothing to do with budget cuts, although I heard a guest on the Fox News piece say that the bad economy is a big part of the problem (I thought schools handed out free condoms?). It turns out that 86 students at Frayser High School in Memphis, Tennessee are pregnant now or have given birth in the last year. This is out of a school enrollment of just 978.
So what’s the problem? According to Deborah Hester Harrison of nonprofit Girls, Inc., it’s a matter of willpower:
“Right now, these girls don’t know how to say ‘no,’ they’re having sex when they don’t want to, they just don’t know how to say ‘no,’”
I thought we were spending untold amounts of money and time in just about every grade level to teach children self-esteem? Wasn’t that supposed to fix everything? Guess that didn’t pan out very well. And how’s that Sex Ed going?
By the way, I did a little digging and found that the average Frayser High School class size is just 19.9. Note to Detroit: So much for small class size being so important.
You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet
Every state and every school district is in financial trouble. If the public school system couldn’t educate our kids with proper funding, how well do you think they are going to do with considerably less? And you can bet that the kids are going to bear the brunt of this, not the teachers unions and their generous pension systems. It’s ironic really, that state pension problems are the biggest contributors to runaway budget deficits, and a substantial part of these pension obligations are to the very same unionized teachers and other public school employees who are there to supposedly put the education of our children as their highest priority.
The teachers unions are the worst thing to have ever happened to what was once a prized educational system.