Monday, July 24, 2006

Perdue's "austerity cuts" in education

The Athens Banner-Herald isn't fooled by Gov. Perdue's election year proposal to infuse 173 million dollars into Georgia's public schools. Don't get me wrong. I'm happy to see the money being spent on our state's future in this way. The problem is Perdue will use this on the campaign trail this fall to say, "see what I did for education?" But as the ABH points out, this "must be balanced" against his "austerity cuts" in education each year since 2003.

It's true that the governor and legislators pumped roughly $1 billion more into the state's schools for the fiscal year that began July 1 than had been available in the previous fiscal year. But that infusion of cash must be balanced against the more than $1 billion in "austerity cuts" administered to the state's public schools during the past four years. Those cuts came in the form of the state's backing away from a funding formula that has been in place since 1985, which sets the amount of state funds going to local school systems. Beginning in 2003, in the face of a tough economy, the state opted against full funding of that formula.


So, the governor's decision to allocate some of the state's surplus to education will, in reality, do little more than put the state's allocation to its public schools somewhere in the neighborhood of where it should have been anyway.

So when the governor comes around to your town, shakes your hand, and kisses all your babies, and tells you what he's doing for their future, just remember this. And remember that when things got tough, Perdue looked to education to make his cuts. That speaks loud and clear as where his priorities are at, with Georgia's struggling education system not being at the top.


Barbara Smiely said...

I think that in fairness it should be remembered that the state had a huge deficit when Perdue took office and, from what I understand, some really tough choices and belt-tightening had to be done. I think our school system has had problems/challenges for a long, long time and the challenges faced by teachers today are difficult. Illegal immigration has had a huge impact on our school systems and it gets worse with each year. New schools are built and trailers are needed immediately. Parental involvement is lacking for various reasons and this makes the teacher's job sometimes impossible.

Button Gwinnett said...

You're right Barbara. Our school systems are being severely tested with the influx of new students that must be educated. I've seen some of them advertising as late as this week for new teachers. And I think I read that counties like Cobb and Gwinnett will have some classes being taught by substitutes when classes begin.

And you're also right about our schools' historical struggles. But I think these are further reasons to ask why he choose to make such extensive cuts in education.