The White House has released a new report that finds the loss of teachers and supplementary education staff is forcing communities into choices that harm children’s education and future, such as increasing class sizes and reducing the length of the school day and year. The report shows that more than 300,000 local education jobs have been lost since the end of the recession, and as a result the national student-teacher ratio has increased by 4.6% between 2008 and 2010. This, the White House claims, has effectively wiped out all the gains made since 2000 in decreasing class sizes. At a time when the importance of a quality education is at an all time high, the Obama administration believes that the negative consequences resulting from increased class sizes are an unacceptable burden on the nation’s youth.
“This year, several thousand fewer educators will be going back to school. Since 2009, we’ve lost more than 300,000 education jobs, in part, because of budget cuts at the state and local level,” said President Obama. “Think about what that means for our country. At a time when the rest of the world is racing to out-educate America; these cuts force our kids into crowded classrooms, cancel programs for preschoolers and kindergarteners, and shorten the school week and the school year. That’s the opposite of what we should be doing as a country.”
The Obama administration contends that independent academic experts corroborate the common-sense opinion that growing class sizes, fewer teachers, fewer school hours per year, and the elimination of critical programs all result in students receiving less individual attention and fewer chances to attain a positive educational outcome.
President Obama has proposed a plan to provide $25 billion to support hundreds of thousands of teacher and other education jobs by preventing layoffs and investing in comprehensive reform to strengthen public education. However, Democrats accuse Republicans in Congress of blocking critical investment in the education of the nation’s children, as the budget passed by Congress would actually slash education funding with a 20% decrease in non-defense discretionary spending. This translates to $2.7 billion in cuts to basic Title I education grants — the equivalent of job losses for 38,000 teachers and aides.
“That’s backwards. That’s wrong. That plan doesn’t invest in our future; it undercuts our future,” said President Obama. “If we want America to lead in the 21st century, nothing is more important than giving everyone the best education possible – from the day they start preschool to the day they start their career.”