New York Times: With Philadelphia Shortfall, Schools Face Renewed Cuts

In its education section, the New York Times reminded us again, that teachers are being asked to do more with less. According to the Times “A $216-million budget shortfall could force Philadelphia’s public schools to make further staffing cuts next year, school officials said on Friday.” The results would be devastating as, “the deepest cuts will be felt in the classroom, according to a budget document. Because of layoffs of about 810 teachers, maximum class sizes in grades one to three would rise to 37, from the current 30, while those in grades nine through 12 would increase to 41 from 33.”

In many cases the circumstances are not as extreme as in Philadelphia, but teachers all over the country are feeling a similar pinch. It translates to larger class sizes, and fewer resources. While at the same time, teachers in under resourced schools are under more pressure to improve test scores. How can anyone in good conscience give a teacher who has committed to serving in a high needs community fewer resources and more pressure. It is counter intuitive. I agree accountability is important, but before we place the onus entirely on the teachers, we need to at least make sure they have the resources and tools to succeed. We must allow our nations dedicated educators to practice the art of teaching, not teaching to a test.

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Walter Duncan is the Co-Founder of Quick Key, a free app that helps teachers harness the power of formative assessment to improve student achievement.

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