A new analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan research group, shows that nearly half of the states have made significant cuts in support for public education, resulting in fewer teachers, larger classes, shorter school days and program cancellations — and generally undermining the academic progress that many states have made in recent years.
According to the study, spending has been cut by $542 per pupil in Florida, $530 in Arizona, $400 in Ohio and $347 in Colorado. It also says that Texas eliminated state support for pre-K programs that serve around 100,000 children, most of them at risk. Several states could have cushioned the blow by dipping into their rainy-day funds but refused to do so.
The wise approach would have been to draw down reserves and raise taxes to meet the shortfalls, but only a few states took that route. Incredibly, a dozen states actually compounded revenue problems by reducing taxes. Instead of spurring growth, as tax-cut advocates claimed, this move will produce another round of cuts and layoffs.
This could be dire for schools generally, and especially harmful to initiatives that were meant to improve education for the poorest children. To avert long-term disaster, states need to take a sensible, balanced approach, leavening budget cuts with revenue increases.