Deep cuts to education hurting students and the economy

Greg Stotelmyer Kentucky News Connection

September 18, 2013

FRANKFORT - Deep cuts to education continue in Kentucky even as the nation pulls out of the recession, according to a report released Thursday.

The report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities finds that after adjusting for inflation, Kentucky has had the 14th largest drop in core funding for schools since 2008.

Jason Bailey, director of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, says

the cuts undermine Kentucky’s ability to educate its children, threatening the state’s future.

“Kentucky has always lagged behind in that area,” he points out. “We’ve made some progress in the past 20 years, but we’ve hit a wall. And the wall has been we don’t have the resources to make the expansions in investment and education that we need.”

The report shows that after adjusting for inflation Kentucky has cut its per-pupil core funding for K-through-12 schools by almost 10 percent since 2008. That’s $477 per child.

Stephanie Winkler, president of the Kentucky Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ group, says the cuts have had a negative impact on instruction and schools are struggling to keep up with technology.

“We’re way far behind in using technology in ways that can save money,” she says. “We shouldn’t be buying tons and tons of textbooks because we should be moving to providing kids tablets - those textbooks, you know, digitally - so that we don’t have to recur those costs any more.”

The report found that even as revenues began to recover, Kentucky cut funding from last year to this year, the fifth biggest cut in core education spending.

The report says that nationwide, 15 states have cut funding in the current year.

Michael Leachman, co-author of the report, says the cuts should concern everyone.

“So these spending cuts are just making it more difficult for states to implement the kinds of basic, promising education reforms that we know work and, in fact, at least in some states they are going backwards,” he explains.