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Geri Spieler Headshot

San Francisco Values: Who Will Be Sorry Now?

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The GOP is in knee jerk reaction mode in an attempt to reduce spending to mend the debt created by the past administration.

What are these senators and congress people thinking? Cutting education spending by penalizing teachers is such a bad decision it defies reason. Why do we want to make becoming a teacher in this country any more unattractive than it has already become?

Is there anyone who thinks teaching in this country is lucrative? Do they not understand that by not having a job for three months is not a vacation? If you know someone who teaches in the K-12 schools, then you know teachers scramble to find employment during those three summer months.

These ill-conceived cuts to our teachers are hysteria that we will be paying for for generations: You don't cut education. The lasting effects in ineffectual schools can never be undone.

The Sad Facts

The three-yearly Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development(OECD) for International Student Assessment (PISA) report, which compares the knowledge and skills of 15-year-olds in 70 countries around the world, ranked the United States 14th out of 34 OECD countries for reading skills, 17th for science and a below-average 25th for mathematics.

We should be Number 1 so why is cutting education, when the facts speak loudly, that we are devastating the very thing that will keep our country vital.

It gets worse.

According to the Educational Testing Service (ETS), there is a wide disparity in literacy and numeracy skills among our school age and adult populations. Our high school graduation rates reached a whopping 77 percent in 1969. Then they fell off to 70 percent in 1995. They have not improved since. Graduation rates for disadvantaged minorities are closer to 50 percent.

Adults in our country do not show much skill in educational ability either. A national survey of our adult population indicates that large numbers of our nation's adults, 16 years of age and older, do have even the basics in literacy skills needed to complete an employment application according to a 2003 study conducted by the U.S Dept of Education, Institute of Education Services.

Teach for America

Additional cuts in the budget include axing $18 million from the Teach for America (TFA) program, or, 400 teachers. This is another disastrous mistake.

Teach for America accomplishes what no other education system can possibly do: Put passionate teachers in under served school districts around the country. These "teachers" are college graduates who commit to teach for two years in one of 39 urban and rural regions. Statistics for the program show that TFA "corps" members' impact on their students' achievement is equal to or greater than that of other new teachers. The research shows that these teachers' impact exceeds that of experienced and certified teachers in the same schools.

We Don't Value Teachers

How do we get better teachers into the classrooms? Well, paying a living wage would help. A McKinsey study showed that schools might also pay more money to fewer teachers--a big class with a good teacher may be better than a small class with a bad one.

The GOP's budget proposal speaks volumes about their values. Keep the rich rich even if by doing so they destroy one of the most critical values in America: Education. And this option, cutting teacher's support network, comes from the party that demanded keeping the Bush tax cuts at a cost of over half a trillion dollars for the next two years. These are the same folks that defended $4 billion in subsidies to big oil after a year when oil companies reported nearly $80 billion in profits, says Steve Hargraves, in CNN Money Magazine.

Yet, the Republicans call themselves the party of fiscal responsibility.