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Will Budget Cuts Leave Kids Behind?

It's school budget season, and that means that word has been trickling out county-by-county of the changes we'll see at schools thanks to the downwardly spiraling economy. Regionwide, teachers are looking at frozen salaries.

But that's far from all the cost-cutting we'll see. Increased class sizes, lost teaching and academic intervention positions and custodian jobs are all forthcoming as are school closures and increases in fees.

There's no question that the schools are doing their best in a difficult fiscal climate. But any cuts at school hurt. Bigger classes mean teachers can focus less on the range of learning that exists in most classrooms. Lost academic intervention positions make it easier for struggling kids to fall farther behind and never catch up. AP fees being transferred to parents means otherwise qualified students can't afford higher-level learning classes. And so, as I delve through budget line items in my own county, I do so with a heavy heart.

Can't the counties find other places to trim costs than schools, where cuts come at such a heavy cost to children's learning?

When you look around your school, do you see waste that can be trimmed without impacting learning? If so, what is it? For instance, at my school, I'd rather the PTA have the ability to put funds towards academics than spending it on teacher appreciation lunches and gifts (much as I do LOVE our teachers). And this seems like the right financial climate to be asking why teacher contracts allow them not to be on the playground with elementary schoolers, hence forcing schools to pay for playground aides.

What do you see as must-haves in your schools? And what are the things that can be cut without harm?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  February 10, 2009; 12:07 AM ET  | Category:  Education
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Comments


My first glance at the article states that the average class size will increase by ONE HALF A STUDENT.

Your heart needn't be so heavy.

Posted by: rr321 | February 10, 2009 7:49 AM | Report abuse

How about trimming the amazing amount of administrative overhead in the schools these days. When I was in school in the 80's you had a principal, vice principal, guidence counselor, nurse and a handful of administrative assistants. These days there are about 6 levels of overhead at every school! Where is the need? Why not have that money go to the teachers, classrooms, books and supplies. I think there are just way too many cooks in the School Board's kitchen.

Posted by: ci01 | February 10, 2009 8:18 AM | Report abuse

The teachers probably don't want playground duty. We're already freezing their salaries, now you want to add extra work to their day? Let them have a break here and there just like people with "normal" jobs. I can't imagine being in charge of 25 kids all day without a moment to decompress.

Posted by: Marimom | February 10, 2009 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Paper. I continue to be stunned at the amount of paper that is sent home each week. I probably get 5 or 6 separate notices in our "Tuesday folder" each week. I see no reason why these cannot be consolidated a bit more, and further, why we cannot select an option to receive communications via email. Our elementary school PTA recently had a paper fundraiser and asked kids to bring in reams of paper. The classroom that brought in the most won some sort of prize. I'm assuming the PTA thought we would all just steal it from work. I actually bought a pack at Office Depot and had my son bring it in. But that's just nonsense. Be smarter about it and actually use basic technology. Our school district already has Blackboard, but little is ever posted there. Frankly, it would be a lot of easier for me even to have a simple email each week, I hate dealing with the pile of notices and crap each week.

Posted by: jljardon2 | February 10, 2009 8:26 AM | Report abuse

ci01 - boy do I agree with you! And not just in the schools, even worse is the overhead at the board of ed. We never hear about cuts in administration, they purposely talk about cutting things that directly affect students because that gets the taxpayers to call legislators to protest. In my county, education has proposed a 12% increase in their budget for fy2010. The county is pushing back so the increase is about 5%. But every article about it says that the county wants to cut funding to education.

Posted by: jjtwo | February 10, 2009 8:27 AM | Report abuse

I would rather see cuts in other areas of county spending but I also realize that the school budget usually makes up over half the entire country budget, so it's the biggest target.

I think it is time for more imaginative and creative thinking on the parts of school administration and instructors. When I worked in Fairfax County in the 1980s/90s during the last downturn (and RIF), there was a scheme to have central staff (non-school based employees) substitute teach instead of hiring substitutes. Lucky for me (I'm not a teacher), this idea was nixed but it was considered for a while.

For people who gripe that administrative overhead is too high, I would argue there is MUCH more overhead and waste in the corporate world than in government. Sure, there are wastrels who don't contribute much but these are individuals rather than positions. Schools need the counselors, specialists, administrative staff, cleaning staff, cooks and yes, the playground aides if you want the teachers to focus on teaching. You can't have it both ways - cut support staff and then complain that the teachers aren't effective.

I, like Stacey, would rather see PTA funds go toward classroom enrichment than teacher gifts (which teachers would not get - how many mugs/soaps/mosaics/plaques does one really need?)

Posted by: slackermom | February 10, 2009 8:30 AM | Report abuse

As a teacher of middle school students and the husband of a 1st grade teacher, I agree that there are places that schools could cut funding that would not have a dire effect in the classroom. However, suggesting that teachers work through their lunches is outrageous. Teachers are entitled to a '30 minute duty-free lunch' by contract. Neither I nor my wife actually eat during this time. We instead furiously plan and grade papers just to try and stay on-schedule. Both of us end up working for hours late into the night after our children are asleep. The quality of our teachers needs to be at a zenith right now, and I can't see how we could continue to attract young college graduates when they're told that they have to work a full day without a break, and then spend their evening grading and planning. I'm sure you would feel similarly insulted if I suggested that you give up your lunch break and spend it watching a playground full of 6-year-olds run wild.

Posted by: hillda01 | February 10, 2009 8:40 AM | Report abuse

First of all, playground aides are paid so that elementary school teachers can have their twenty minutes of planning. These teachers spend all day long with children, have a short lunch break (remember, they have to walk the kids to the cafeteria and back), get a few minutes during recess (which is rarely 30 minutes anymore), and get maybe 30 minutes when the kids are at P.E. or music (minus the time it takes them to walk the kids back and forth, of course). Meanwhile, they have to plan lessons in math, science, reading, spelling, social studies, and language arts for a myriad of different groups of students and abilities, all of whom you want to have a specialized curriculum that meets their individual needs. The real question is, why do we expect them to do so much with so little time?

Oh, and don't forget that they also have to answer a dozen e-mails from parents, and call home whenever there's an academic or behavior problem - because teachers now have to warn parents that a warning might be coming home. Yes, we're required to tell you that Junior might have a bad grade on the progress report (also called Interims) so that the warning that comes before the report card won't be a surprise. In fact, if we handed back more of the responsibility to the parents, maybe the teachers would have time to stand on the playground.

As for cutting costs, you could start with tests. In Howard County, students in grades 3-8 must take quarterly assessments in virtually every subject. It must cost a ton of money to write all those different tests each summer, not to mention the printing costs. And that's before we spend a fortune as a state to create/buy/print the MSAs/HSAs/LAS Links (ESOL test) etc. We would also gain back at least ten days of instruction, which is currently spent testing the kids, and maybe everyone would be less stressed, too.

Before you take away the raises (teachers have to pay mortgages, too - often far away from where they teach), you should get rid of the tremendous waste that our testing culture has created. It would have the added advantage of solving other problems, too.

Posted by: LadybugLa | February 10, 2009 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Both of us end up working for hours late into the night after our children are asleep.


Posted by: hillda01 | February 10, 2009 8:40 AM | Report abuse

LOL! A first grade teacher works late into the night??

Posted by: jezebel3 | February 10, 2009 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Once again, Jezebel shows her ignorance of the work teachers do in a "normal" day. In fact, the burden placed on teachers beyond what most people consider normal work is codified in IRS regulations. The "Educator Expenses" deduction allows teacher to deduct a certain amount for school supplies that they purchased out of their out pockets.

How would you like to bring your own copier paper to work each day? Or not have a lunch period. Or stand in the rain or snow for bus duty?

As to the question of what is preceived as excess staff in the central office, you can blame the federal gov't for that. So many Dept. of Education programs require documentation to continuing funding, the central office staff has been increased in the last decades.

Beyond that, it is probably parents like Jezebel that demand from schools all types of special consideration for their little Johnny and Marie.

Posted by: anonthistime | February 10, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

"Once again, Jezebel shows her ignorance of the work teachers do in a "normal" day."


Posted by: anonthistime | February 10, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse


LOL! I live across the street from a school and I have read the teachers' contracts. There are 5 teachers in my family...

Posted by: jezebel3 | February 10, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

jljardon2- I campletely agree with you! I have 2 kids in the same school and get a copy of every flier in each back pack, sometimes twice. They have different last names so we also get 2 of every mailed flier from the district that should be one to a family. It doesn't seem like it should be a difficult problem to solve and would save a lot of money.

At the school my daughter attends, the teachers all rotate lunch/playground duty with the kids. They each have one day every other week! They don't lose lunch, or their planning time because every time the kids have music, art, spanish, gym, etc. they have a 20-30 minutes to plan, grade, make phone calls, etc. I am not saying they should have to work straight through their day or that they don't deserve any break during the day, but one lunch period hardly seems like a huge deal.

Posted by: thosewilsongirls | February 10, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

More volunteers.

Posted by: em2008 | February 10, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Having been married to a teacher and helping with all that work that some people don't believes exists, I know differently.

Posted by: anonthistime | February 10, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

PTA funds should not go for anything substantive-- that is the responsibility of all taxpayers to cover, not just the parents. Some schools have wealthy PTAs and some do not-- so there will be inequity in teacher salareys if PTAs become reasponsible for paying for necessary public school expenses.

Posted by: captiolhillmom | February 10, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Ah - mentioned above - DOE - is a large waste of taxpayer money. And it does not make education more effective anywhere. Get rid of it (or phase it out).
But I see how hard the teachers are working. If you get rid of much of the administration, you could give raises to the teachers, who desperately need it.
Atlanta is right behind DC in terms of education AND spending per student.
The budget keeps going up up up - yet the number of students is declining. Hmmm.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | February 10, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Paper is a really good one, folks!

hillda01: I appreciate your points, but here's my question about that midday break. In our school, teachers get 1/2 hour lunch, 1/2 hour recess; 1/2 hour specials. Those have been one after another in our two years at the school. I don't see why teachers spent their time supervising recess when I was a kid, but it isn't part of the job now. In fact, what I and other parent friends often discuss is that recess is downright dangerous with too little appropriate supervision for the number of kids on the playgrounds. If teachers split the recess days on the playground, there'd be better supervision at a lower cost and teachers could still get a couple of days a week with that extra long break.

Posted by: Stacey Garfinkle | February 10, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Stacey,

First of all, I commend your school - I'm shocked that teachers get that much of a block of time all at once - and, I admit, skeptical, as well.

What's changed since you were a kid is the paperwork and responsibility. Teachers are now required to fill out MUCH more paperwork (Thank you, No Child Left Behind!) and expected to call parents over every little thing. If parents would take more responsibility over their kids' academic life, and stop asking teachers to take over parental roles, then maybe teachers would have time for recess duty again.

Posted by: LadybugLa | February 10, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

"Can't the counties find other places to trim costs than schools, where cuts come at such a heavy cost to children's learning?"
____________________
What would you recommend. Services for the elderly? Firestations, trash pick up, recycling maybe? Everyone is going to have to give some. No one group is more important than the others. I'm also having a hard time understanding how on earth, recess can be "downright dangerous" anymore. No teeter totters, no jungle gyms, every square inch coated in foam. What's left, maybe the kids might run into each other? I think instead of complaining, if all the parents upped their comittment to their schools, we might be able to actually make things better. If every family gave one hour a year, it could be a remarakble difference, cue comments from people who don't have one hour a year..............

Posted by: moxiemom1 | February 10, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Wow. The ignorance of what it takes to be an elementary-level teacher these days is astonishing.

These teachers not only spend 100% of their time focused on kids in the classroom (they have to be razor sharp and completely on-task in order to manage the classroom properly), but they then need to take time to communicate via e-mail and phone with parents. That communication work, at times, falls after normal school hours. Additionally, there is definitely prep work involved in today's multi-cultural and complex elementary curriculums. That work, again, usually occurs before or after the kids arrive in the classroom.

Oh, I neglected to mention that when the human being with the title of "teacher" leaves their workplace, they may have a family or social life to which they need to attend. So all of that work that falls outside the boundaries of the 'normal school day' then must be addressed after the teacher's family / social time.

Let's look at the numbers: There could potentially be 15 - 30+ assignments to review, depending on the class-size. When looking at parental communication, having to be in contact with 15 - 30 sets of parents is no small feat. Throw in the fact that probably 25 - 50% of those parents are divorced and the number of outbound communications is enormous. Any private sector worker who was in the position of having to do a task all day long and then after the working day was obliged to communicate with his or her clients (the parents) in the evening would also be asking for over time and/or looking for new work. My point: elementary ed isn't a walk in the park and any spare time during the day that can be used for non-instructional, administrative duties is necessary.

Please note: This is not a gripe or whining response, but one that is intended to be didactic. Elementary education is one of the most demanding levels in the K-12 world.

Posted by: CB12 | February 10, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

I am on the PTO board and I can ASSURE you that we do not spend money on teacher appreciation and lunches. While we do that, that is 100% out of the pocket of the parents. In all 3 schools my kids are in. I don't know where you get your information, or what school you're at, but I do not believe that to be the norm. Did you look at the budget before your accusations? Because our budget has a new thermometer for the nurse, supplies for the teachers, and a microphone for the principal so he can be heard at assemblies, among other things like new schoolbooks.

Cutting costs? Turn off lights/electronics when not in use and use electronic mail whenever possible (we are an inner city school - not often possible). Do not cut teachers' pay.

Posted by: Stormy1 | February 10, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Elementary education is one of the most demanding levels in the K-12 world.

Posted by: CB12 | February 10, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

What a shocker! What are the other demanding levels in the K-12 world?

Posted by: jezebel3 | February 10, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

"They have different last names so we also get 2 of every mailed flier from the district that should be one to a family. "

Umm - how are they supposed to know? These days, it's difficult to tell who's in the same family and who's not.

You can usually (although not always) jump to conclusions like "same last name and same address = same family." But that's about it. "Different last names and same address" quite often means "two different families sharing same mailing address." Maybe it means "two different families sharing same physical address" and maybe it doesn't. You never know for sure, so you send one to each name.

That's especially important in cases of blended families - if "Joe Smith" and "Jane Jones" are half-siblings - same mother, different fathers - then ALL parents have to be notified of some things, NOT JUST the common mother.


Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | February 10, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Since there seems to be no correlation between the amount of money spent per student and how well the student does or how good the school is, it seems to be a bit of a rhetorical question.

"Loveless said two areas where education spending might make a difference were in teacher salaries and small class sizes for first graders. But overall, the relationship between spending on education and test performance was not strong, he said." http://www.reuters.com/article/domesticNews/idUSN2438214220070524

Pay teachers well to teach well, and eliminate the teachers who can't. Studies also show that the single biggest impact on a classroom is not class size, but the quality of the teacher:
"Eric Hanushek, an economist at Stanford, estimates that the students of a very bad teacher will learn, on average, half a year’s worth of material in one school year. The students in the class of a very good teacher will learn a year and a half’s worth of material. That difference amounts to a year’s worth of learning in a single year. Teacher effects dwarf school effects: your child is actually better off in a “bad” school with an excellent teacher than in an excellent school with a bad teacher. Teacher effects are also much stronger than class-size effects. You’d have to cut the average class almost in half to get the same boost that you’d get if you switched from an average teacher to a teacher in the eighty-fifth percentile. And remember that a good teacher costs as much as an average one, whereas halving class size would require that you build twice as many classrooms and hire twice as many teachers."
http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/12/15/081215fa_fact_gladwell?currentPage=2

I think trimming costs at schools is exactly what we should be doing: getting rid of all the things that don't work (lousy teachers, extra admin. staff, onoreus testing requirements)and only pay for what does: really great teachers.

Posted by: outloud | February 10, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

jljardon2: "I probably get 5 or 6 separate notices in our "Tuesday folder" each week. I see no reason why these cannot be consolidated a bit more, and further, why we cannot select an option to receive communications via email."

Depends on who those notices are FROM. If they're from the school system it's one thing, but if they're from the county Rec & Parks department about after-school programs, or from other approved nonprofit organizations, this can be pretty hard to do. On the flip side, such notices don't usually cost the schools anything except volunteer time.

Our non-profit youth sports organization went through the process to get approval to send our fliers home through the schools. We pay for the fliers (paper, printing, etc.) We bundle them in bundles of the appropriate number, then deliver them to the schools. Then volunteers stuff them in the folder. Yeah, if you don't want to put your kid in our youth sports program you consider the flier an annoyance, but there was no cost to the school.

(Yes, we'd really rather do that electronically to save US money, too, but a lot of school systems aren't set up to do that yet. And don't make the mistake of assuming that all parents have regular access to a computer.)

Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | February 10, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

The teachers don't supervise the playgroup for recess anymore? That's too bad... they did when I was a kid, and it was fun to spend some time with the teachers outside of class. Our 6th grade teacher used to play 4-square with the kids, and even though other teachers weren't so active, they used to talk to the kids about their families, their vacations, and whatnot. I always thought the teachers kind of enjoyed themselves. IIRC, they switched off playground duty so it wasn't the same teacher every day.

Posted by: floof | February 10, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

I find it very interesting that so many people blame teachers for the problems in our schools. If you hold parents to the same standard you want to hold teachers, most parents would lose their kids to the foster system. Bottom line - it is a combination of good teachers and good parents working together who create good learners. Neither one can do the job alone.

Posted by: czetajones | February 10, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

ArmyBrat1- I understand that the district office can't tell my kids are part of the same family simply by address, but after I call and tell them it should be easy enough for them to address, don't you think? Wouldn't the savings be worth the minimal effort it would take to solve the problem for the many families like mine?

Posted by: thosewilsongirls | February 10, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

I knew a 1st grade teacher that worked late into the night. She waited our table at Outback Steak House several times during the school ear. We left her nice tips.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | February 10, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Yep, schools should look at budgets like businesses . . . cut costs where it makes sense and invest in the things that work . . . like teachers. Hope the stimulus bill gets to these things.

Posted by: ElaineatLipstickdaily | February 10, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Elementary education is one of the most demanding levels in the K-12 world.


What a shocker! What are the other demanding levels in the K-12 world?

Posted by: jezebel3 | February 10, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, Jezebe13; I'm certified K-12, have experience in grades 5-12, and have absolutely NO interest in ever teaching elementary school - even though I love little kids, and I'm qualified. They're not going to pay me enough to balance so many things with such little time planning. Secondary teachers get more planning time, and most of them (not including myself, because I teach a specialized subject), have fewer subjects to prepare. No teaching job is "easy," but districts and school can do a lot to either set up a teacher for success or failure. There are times when teachers are asked to do the impossible, with no tools or help, and then people wonder why it didn't go so well.

Posted by: LadybugLa | February 10, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

I am very angry that a few schools will not have full day kindergarten next year or even the year after. I'd much rather see a cut in "nice to have programs" like foreign language for the elementary schools so that all schools can offer the same basic education.

Posted by: aec2 | February 10, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Elementary education is one of the most demanding levels in the K-12 world.

Posted by: CB12 | February 10, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

What a shocker! What are the other demanding levels in the K-12 world?

Posted by: jezebel3

There's elementary ed., middle school, high school, counselors, ESOL teachers, Special Ed teachers, phys ed, music teachers, art teachers, librarians, media specialists, and coaches. And the elementary educators has the largest amount of responsibility on their plate.

Posted by: mlc2 | February 10, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

have, not has

Posted by: mlc2 | February 10, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

???? "PTA funds should not go for anything substantive-- that is the responsibility of all taxpayers to cover, not just the parents"

seriously? the taxpayers (who have relatively little stake in whether or not your kid has enough construction paper in art class)really do a lot already, much of it wasted in administrative costs, but still. asking them to pay more, especially in the current economic climate, isn't really a solution--while the education of the young is a community interest and responsibility, at some point the parents of the young do have a higher interest and responsibility, do they not?

parents really, really need to be more involved, not only in educational support at home (they DO realize that a child's learning is a constant, lifelong process, not just something that can be outsourced to the county from 9-3 monday-friday, right?), but also financially.

i understand that public schools and all their activities are supposed to be free for all. but something about mr. and mrs. upper-level federal job with the 8K house in fairfax county not being willing/able to kick in for the AP test fees, or some art supplies now and again is just wrong, especially when you consider what crap they DO spend money on for their kids (find me a middle class teenage boy in fairfax county who doesn't have some sort of video game system, for example).

i realize that not all families are able to do a whole lot (but look within any family and i venture to say you could find at least $50/year worth of waste), but perhaps the school system can pick up the tab for those who can't afford it (i went to parochial school and that's how it worked for us for APs and SATs). why not give it a shot? this is about YOUR children, you know. why let them miss out on taking AP exams just to stand on principle?

Posted by: freckleface | February 10, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

"but after I call and tell them it should be easy enough for them to address, don't you think?

You'd certainly think so, yes. And our county seems to do a reasonable job of it, for mailings from the central office. But we seem to have a lot of current technology - I wonder if other systems just don't have the technology to make it easy for them?

Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | February 10, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

I'd love to see our county's FLE program cut from the budget. FLE=Family Life Education, you know, the program where they subject the students to anti-drug propaganda by showing them videos made several decades ago of kids getting high and having fun on the playground equipment. Of course, it always ends up with them showcasing some loser who blames his stupidity on drug use. What a joke! In the upper grades they push aids education which is nothing less than a social engineering program that throws a bone at abstinence, then promotes the message that it is perfectly fine to have sex with anybody of their desiring as long as they use a condom. (The intimacy cigarrette is frowned upon though) Yuck!

I say save the taxpayer some money, improve the schools, and cut out FLE.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | February 10, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

I say save the taxpayer some money, improve the schools, and cut out FLE.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | February 10, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

The FLE program sounds waay cool. My parents dropped the ball on this stuff, so I learned it "in the streets". YMMV.

Posted by: jezebel3 | February 10, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

supposed to be 800K house, but you get the picture :)

Posted by: freckleface | February 10, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Okay, so I am not at all looking forward to sending my kids off to school after reading this board.

I think the school should cut out the in-school, sugar-laden parties. So instead of always having to sign up to bring the candy or cupcakes for the weekly "party," you could bring in the paper or an activity for the kids.

Posted by: supersonic1 | February 10, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Aren't parents already involved? I mean seriously... how can the students not have enough art supplies when we are asked to send enough art/misc. supplies to last my child several years at the beginning of the school year - each and every year! My 2 children go through a fraction of what is requested for one child in their own home. That is not including all the miscellaneous supplies that we are required to send in that is more than our WHOLE family uses in a year.

Parents are ponying up for the privilege to send their kids to public school on top of the taxes we already pay.

Posted by: Billie_R | February 10, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Wow - do you folks really think that Fairfax County can overcome a $150 million shortfall by cutting down on copying and paper costs?

In high schools, this will probably not just be a .5 student per classroom increase - more like a 2 or 3 student per classroom increase on average (English classes have caps on the number of kids by law - so average increases are absorbed elsewhere). It also means that a lot of upper-level classes will no longer be taught. Forget French/Spanish 5 or Differential Calculus (i.e., don't bother to take Algebra in 7th grade - you won't have any Math courses left to take Senior year).

As for the PTA's - our high school PTA spends a few hundred dollars on teacher breakfasts every year. On the other hand, we're spending many thousands on equipment and materials that are not in the school's budget.

Posted by: GroovisMaximus61 | February 10, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

I love doing recess duty. I didn't realize some teachers didn't have to do it. It gives me a chance to talk with the kids about things outside of school and get a window into their worlds.
I teach at a K-8 school and have taught both the middle grades and kindergarten. You definately have more planning time in 8th grade than in the lower grades, but I can't honestly say that I spend every evening working on my school stuff. I'm usually home from work before 4 pm.

Posted by: terpin | February 10, 2009 5:00 PM | Report abuse

No, I don't think the budget problems can be solved by just saving on paper, but everything helps. I work in a position that has spent a lot of time transitioning communications to our membership from paper to email/web and it can make a difference. And I fully acknowledge that many people do not have computers (yes, even in affluent Fairfax County). I don't see it as an all or nothing situation, but at least put forth the effort to try. Give people an option. Particularly when tools like Blackboard are already in place.

My son is only in first grade and I've really felt like we went into a bit of a timewarp regarding how communications are handled.

Posted by: jljardon2 | February 11, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

This is an easy one. Eliminate public education as it exists currently. I'm not saying we don't have, as a society, the responsibility to see educate all children. But the current method is flawed. If nothing else, these articles are worth reviewing, as they favor an approach that's as interesting as it is radical.

See http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-goldberg12jun12,0,4683079.column?coll=la-opinion-rightrail

and http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/013/702uscvj.asp

Posted by: NoVAHockey | February 11, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

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