Are school budget cuts leaving teachers “overstressed, overburdened and overwhelmed”?

The AJC has a good story on shrinking school budgets. The question is how these deep cuts will affect the classroom and student learning.

According to the AJC story:

In their budgets for the 2013 fiscal year, which began Sunday, many of the biggest school districts cut their teaching staff, which will drive up the number of students in each classroom. Most also imposed furlough days, meaning teachers will lose time for planning lessons or hold class fewer days.

Among metro Atlanta’s biggest school systems, only Fulton County escaped significant cuts. That’s because Fulton curbed spending in prior years, shaving about $200 million since 2009. The rest of metro Atlanta’s big school districts — Atlanta and the systems in Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb and Gwinnett counties — slashed around $150 million collectively, cutting at least 2,000 teaching positions.

The loudest uproar was in DeKalb, where about 500 teaching positions and 600 support positions were eliminated as part of $78.6 million in cuts. Class sizes will rise by two students on average. Even with the cuts, the school board raised taxes by one mill, or about 4 percent.

Dori Kleber, a Dunwoody parent, volunteered often at Kingsley Charter Elementary School, where she has two children. The two dozen students in her daughter’s kindergarten class had to squeeze tight to fit on a rug they shared for activities like counting in turn by fives.

Kleber, who graduated from the DeKalb school system, recalls when there were 18 children in a kindergarten classroom. She wonders how big classrooms will be allowed to grow. “It just seems like it’s starting to be impossible,” she said. “My children have had some excellent teachers, but I see those teachers overstressed, overburdened and overwhelmed.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

146 comments Add your comment

d

July 3rd, 2012
5:23 am

Let’s see, more students, common core with less than adequate training, new evaluation instrument most of us haven’t seen or been trained on, even less time to prepare, another salary decrease despite higher cost of living, the whole reform movement. Maureen, I think you have understated things here.

mountain man

July 3rd, 2012
6:23 am

yes i am worried

July 3rd, 2012
6:28 am

Yes. As a parent, I am greatly concerned about what both the cuts and the inherent inefficiencies are doing to teachers. I am equally concerned that the message that we are sending to current k-12 students is that we don’t value teachers and therefore, we will continue to see a decline in the quality of the students who are willing to be educators.

The Mid-South Philosopher

July 3rd, 2012
6:40 am

At the risk of being hailed as a “conspiracy theorist”, aren’t an “ignorant populace” and an “uninformed electorate” the prime ingredients for the “stew of tyranny”?

Cherokee Parent

July 3rd, 2012
6:45 am

What is really maddening is that the legislators won’t even own up to what they’ve done on the state funding side of the equation. They prance around bragging about how they’ve “cut spending” and “shrunk government” on all their campaign literature, but when pressed about the $1 Billion they have cut from schools, they refuse to take responsibility. The Cherokee delegation members actually have the gall to stand in front of parents and teachers and say these “weren’t really cuts” because we should not be counting on QBE money (that is earned per student under THE LAW). Huh?

yes i am worried

July 3rd, 2012
6:46 am

I hope Rogers losing in Cherokee. His replacement alone would go along way to restoring sanity to the discussion about public education

NWGA Teacher

July 3rd, 2012
6:49 am

Many of the teachers I know would like to leave the profession. Working conditions are ridiculous.

NWGA Teacher

July 3rd, 2012
6:50 am

Clicked “send” too quickly . . . fewer teachers are willing to put in the 12-hour days under these conditions.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

July 3rd, 2012
6:54 am

Are budget cuts targeting teachers and instruction?

Let’s bring in disinterested, out-of-state auditors to scrutinize the budgets of our state’s numerous K-12 public educational entities to insure that educRATS’ aren’t protecting their cheese at the expense of our kids’ futures.

Junk Monkey

July 3rd, 2012
7:04 am

Well the coffee is brewing and no one has smelled or even looked in the cup.. Yes teachers are distressed and worry about jobs. And, they have a right to be. In the last decade, how many times have you seen teaches in nay system band together to correct a wrong. Teacxhers did this all the time before 2000. What happened. They would be at the capital demanding money for the schools.
Well, their so called Professional Organizations are no 100% for them any more. They have riddled them selves with lettting administrators join therefore weaking their power base. You see, in any organization where all administrators are allowed to join, the organzation wi going to represent the administrators cause. It is sickening.
Now let us look at this financial picture. How many superintendents took a cut in pay since the money began to crumble? You need to ask that question. How many top employees such as curiiculm directors, financial directors, etc,., have taken a cut? I bet in the State of Geortgia you can county them on one hand. The AJC needs to print all superintendent’’s salary in Georgia. Printi not just their base pay but all the Perks they are getting.. You need to Print the County’s name, a list of the top 20 employees from each system. Where they Cut? Probably not. Why? It is the good ole employees versus the employees in the trenches each day. IIf everyone employed in these office positions would give 100 percent of their time to their jobs, we could elimate some of those positions.
And, I know their are those who give 100$ but there are others who probably don not. For example, the one who always plans the parties, brings baked goods, etc. they need to concentrrate on doing more on their jobs they being a party planner.
I really wold like to know these salaries and if hey have been cut. Let be honbet and printt every penny not just what state auditors record.

Mirva

July 3rd, 2012
7:06 am

I close me ears when some over inflated windbag of an administrator or central office idtiot proclaims, this year we will do more with less. The reality is, NOBODY does more with less. You get less with less. I, along with thousands of teachers in this state do the best we can with what we have. Give us less time, money, support, we do the best we can. Give us more students, duties, mandates, furloughs, paperwork, we do the best we can.
The school board says they are adding 2 students to call sizes, which doesn’t sound all that terrible until you remember that this has been going on for the past 8 years. Each year 2-3 students have been added to my rolls for the past 8 years. You can do the math and see how my class sizes have been affected. Every year, those kids get a little best less of me. You don’t get more for less.

Junk Monkey

July 3rd, 2012
7:07 am

Sorry for nay left out letters in the commemt before… The font is so small I an having to guess at some llettes. Guess I need to change the font some how.
GOD BLESS OUR TEACHERS AND CHILDREN FOR THE COMING DAYS AHEAD.

Sam the Sham

July 3rd, 2012
7:19 am

Things are tough all over! I respect quality teachers, but they have three months paid vacation right now to catch their breath.

Courtney

July 3rd, 2012
7:21 am

R B

July 3rd, 2012
7:28 am

The 3 weeks vacation is a common misconception. My wife is a teacher – it doesn’t work that way. Teachers are only paid for the academic year, not the summer. That’s why many teachers have to work extra jobs in the summer.

hssped

July 3rd, 2012
7:30 am

When I was in school I had 33 in my class (grad-1980). Kindergarten was less, but it was only 1/2 a day, so we were split (the teacher taught all day). I learned with 33 in my class just fine and we did NOT have a/c in my school either (or a cafeteria, or a gym). It is not the class size; it is the behavior of the kids. But, whatever, there is nothing that can be done about that. Kids and parents rule; teachers drool.

This summer I am looking into nursing degrees. I’ve got 10 more years until I can retire (at 60 with 28 years) and I am going to hang in there, but I will need something when it is over because I am afraid I will have to work until I die. My investments have dwindled (starting with 9-11). The sad part is that I really, really like what I do but I have to work p/t jobs year after year just to take the edge off and I’m getting tired. I’m very tired and each year I make less.

My attitude has soured over the past three years. I can’t help it. Even those with a strong work ethic and strong desire to teach are going to burn-out at some point. The people in charge are just accelerating the process. Oh well…I guess we should have picked a different career path. It is our own fault, no?

Solutions

July 3rd, 2012
7:30 am

NWGA Teacher – Teachers have it made in the shade, a week vacation in Fall Break, a week at Thanksgiving, 3 weeks at Christmas, a week vacation for Spring Break, then 3 months vacation for Summer break. And do not dare to give me that sob story about not being paid for Summer break, you compare your “9 month” salary to our 12 month salary, so I say you ARE being paid for Summer break!

Solutions

July 3rd, 2012
7:31 am

Plus their regular earned vacation time…..what is that, 3 or 4 weeks a year?

crankee-yankee

July 3rd, 2012
7:37 am

GwinnettGuy

July 3rd, 2012
7:39 am

Solutions,

Teachers don’t get vacation time. They get a contract that pays them for “x” number of days… 190 in my county… or 188 due to furloughs. They work those 188 days at a “daily rate” regardless of the amount of hours worked. They can earn supplements for things such as coaching.

I have a lot of respect for teachers and I’m very grateful that I don’t have to do their job. Thank you teachers for what you do.

Quit Watching Faux News

July 3rd, 2012
7:40 am

Can we dispense with the obvious: First their are no teachers unions in Georgia. Secondly teachers are only paid for the length of their contract (payments are spread over 12 months). no one gets the summer off with pay. Please try to be informed.

John Konop

July 3rd, 2012
7:42 am

We are in a tough economy and all sides need to compromise without hurting the quality of education. I would suggest the following:

Replace gym class requirements for students who play at sport at school

Require all administrators to teach one class. Not only would this save money, it would make them better at their job.

Create a homeschool/public school option with teachers providing help. Also allow the kids to fully participate in extra curricular activities. The same concept of a home school/charter school

Create waivers for some end of year test which would lower administrative overhead and increase class time. The best education systems in the world test way less than us.

Promote the use of joint enrollment education opportunities for all students not just 4 year college bound. Vocational kids would be job ready, increasing tax revanue while lowering drop out rate, and 4 year college bound would move through the system quicker costing us less money

crankee-yankee

July 3rd, 2012
7:42 am

Solutions
July 3rd, 2012
7:30 am

Where do you get your data?
Some radio talk show?

kjds

July 3rd, 2012
7:49 am

gee, sounds like the real world work place, but with more days off.

broke and overworked

July 3rd, 2012
7:49 am

I just wish they would greatly reduce central office jobs and administrative staff before cutting what the students actually need. Aren’t we supposed to be educating children? I looked at one of our local shool system’s 2012-2013 budget, and I was appalled when I realized they’re willing to spend more on custodial services/building maintenance than educating children.
I become even more disheartened when I realized board members make as much as I, the educator. Lastly, my heart broke when I realized I won’t be able to purchase all the extra things I used to for the classroom because my furlough days have numbered. I pray for my students and those making decisions.

Wake Up GA!

July 3rd, 2012
7:54 am

Based on my experience, it is out of utter ignorance and some envy that some folks think teachers are paid over the summer. Teachers, as well as college professors, are not paid for the summer. This is why when teachers/professors teach summer school they get paid. This is also why so many of teachers/professors normally get jobs during the summer to make ends meet.

If Georgians wish to have a chance at an economic recovery and prosperity, Georgians need to recognize and value an educated populace with post-secondry education opportunities. Look at the states that are doing better than Georgia, you will find that they have a better educated populace and better paid educators. So long as Georgians de-value education, and educators, so long will Georgia continue to be an economic bottom feeder among the rest of the states.

Solutions

July 3rd, 2012
7:57 am

You can spin it anyway you want, but teachers still compare their 188 day contract salary with what the rest of us make working 250 days (subtracting two weeks for paid vacation). Gee, most professional workers put in extra non paid hours, so why should grading a few papers at home be a big deal? Oh, union rules you wish you had? Teacher just luv to compare apples to oranges when it benefits them!

broke and overworked

July 3rd, 2012
8:09 am

My furlough days have doubled. To those who think our careers are on hold during “breaks”
, come and plan the next year with me. Where r u when I teach to an average of 135 children each year? Where r u when im grading papers, tutoring after school, attending parent conferenc es/pta meetings, reevaluating lessons, counseling kids, writing recommendations, calling /emailing parents after working 8-12 hours, and still facilitating plays, proms, sga, blood drives, community service, and countless other activities? I love each and every one of the preceding, but I become livid when people make comments which insult a profession I have dedicated my life. Yes, I have not had to report to the office since the friday before memorial day, but I’ve read countless articles about new standards and redesigned lessons, created ideas for more student activities, and had pow wows with co-workers about how to better service our students. What do you on your “vacations”?

MA

July 3rd, 2012
8:16 am

Solutions: Teachers don’t get 3 weeks at Christmas – 2 weeks at the most. And, 3 months during summer? I wish….try 8 weeks. Last time I checked that is 2 months. Most of those teachers have to take extra p/t jobs to make ends meet. Some teachers even take classes during the summer to keep their certifications. Exaggerate all you want, teachers work hard for a lot less than some people think.

Over it

July 3rd, 2012
8:20 am

Especially stressed are the teachers in DeKalb, for example ALL the teachers at Fernbank Science Center, who have been told their positions have been eliminated. They are invited to apply for new positions but currently there are no teaching jobs posted.

teacher&mom

July 3rd, 2012
8:21 am

The furlough days are disheartening…but when I look around me, I realize many professions are hurting. I can deal with the furlough days.

What frustrates me is how this effects the students. Do not be deceived. Students in GA are paying the price for a legislature that eagerly approved austerity cuts and mandates to destroy public education….while funding a foolish “Go Fish” project.

Shame. Shame. Shame.

Our legislature would rather listen to ALEC or Michelle Rhee than listen to its own teachers…..and that is why GA teachers are disheartened.

No one at the district or state level will listen to our concerns.

carlosgvv

July 3rd, 2012
8:22 am

Teachers have been saying,for many years now, that they’re “overstressed, overburdeded” and overwhelmed”.

In my many years of working for corporations, the same applied to me.

Mr_B

July 3rd, 2012
8:28 am

Solutions: Average salary for a Ga teacher is about 50K if you have a Masters degree. In the private sector that Masters would earn you about 80K annually.

Fall break? Finalize grading and read and grade research papers.
Winter break? Finalize grading and read and grade research papers.
Spring break? Finalize and ……………..

If you think this job is so great (and yeah, it IS a great job; it just doesn’t pay very well,and it can be very tiring and stressful) you’re welcome to join us. There’s a lot of kids out here that need all the help they can get. But be prepared to be criticized and sometime envied by people who have mindless bought into the “public schools are soooooo awful” fallacy.

Entitlement Society

July 3rd, 2012
8:33 am

People, listen to all these teachers! Why in the world would you EVER want to send your children into their classrooms? Bitter, bitter, bitter. I’m sure they TRY to put on a happy face for the students, but this repressed hostility towards administration can only be hidden so much… I can’t imagine ever letting my children be subject to this mess. Listen to all of the teachers telling us how it affects (or “effects” as some of the teachers like to spell it – I won’t even go there) the students. You are doing your children a disservice if allow them to suffer through this public education disaster.

Solutions

July 3rd, 2012
8:36 am

A Masters in Education is not going to cut it in the private sector, where MBA’s are a dime a dozen, and newly minted lawyers are waiting on tables as the only job available to them in this ugly economy. I hear the whines and cries of teachers, and they make me realize our schools are failing for a reason, teachers who think they know it all and are gods gift to the private sector. Wrong, you have reached your level of incompetence in your current jobs! Otherwise the private sector would be beating a path to your door with lucrative offers of employment, which they are not! Stop your whining and get to work! Remember, you are living off my tax dollars!

bad for future generations

July 3rd, 2012
8:38 am

@carlos gv Yes, there are a great many people who feel stressed, burdened and overwhelmed by the financial downturn. But, how many of them are responsible for the educational outcomes for future generations. Stress in the work place that impacts about 5-20 people perhaps compared to stress in the work place that impacts 5-20 adults and 175-180 impressionable young people. Stress that could have been reduced.
Couple that with the stress of knowing that poorly applied test scores will be the evaluation method du jour for the job, there is many layers of stress that are not currently applicable for most of corporations.

Mr_B

July 3rd, 2012
8:40 am

OK; Solutions. Are you willing to take a job teaching? Honestly?

Solutions

July 3rd, 2012
8:45 am

I taught at the college level while earning my Masters Degree in Engineering, in return the program waived all tuition and fees. Since I already had a full time professional job, I didn’t need a stipend, just the tuition and fee waiver. Some of my students did not speak much English, as they were from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, but they were smart and could keep up by reading and sharing notes with each other.

Tired

July 3rd, 2012
8:49 am

I’m certain they are. Just like the public health nurses, social workers, and everyone else who is overworked and underpaid but who don’t get the attention that teachers do.

carlosgvv

July 3rd, 2012
8:50 am

bad – 8:38

For every one teacher there are at least 30 or more stressed corporate office workers. Since most of these people, like myself, have children who are directly affected by a stressed out parent, it more than evens out.

Mr_B

July 3rd, 2012
8:55 am

Not the question, Solutions. Would you today drop the engineering work and take a job as a TSA instructor at one of your local high schools? For around 45K a year, 10-12 hour days for 80% of the year, fair benefits and the possibility of make a real difference in a 17-year old’s life, either for better or worse?

I assume that you are now in the engineering field. How many teachers helped you get there, or are you completely self-taught?

Would you walk the walk, or do you just want to talk the talk?

Richard

July 3rd, 2012
8:57 am

The problem is that teachers are being dictated their job by people who don’t know anything about education. Fix that first, then we can talk about the money.

ga teacher

July 3rd, 2012
8:58 am

Isn’t it bad everywhere? OK 2,000 jobs SLASHED….ok what is overall unemployment in same period of time? I am a teacher as well, there are two kinds of people 1. people who make excuses and complain and 2. everyone else.

OK, so there are teachers out of work…wow, there are plenty of people w/o jobs right now.

OK, so we have more kids in our classroom, have better management and effect positive change for more kids.

OK, so you got a pay cut, be thankful you still have a job and again STOP COMPLAINING…

Good teachers will find a way, the other teachers will use this as a white flag and make some more excuses…get real, you did this job for the public good, so when the pulic needs to make cuts b/c it does not have the money to support how things were b/c of foreclosures and all other economic issues, you give in and quit or stop doing your JOB…grow up

Jaggar

July 3rd, 2012
8:59 am

To SOLUTIONS and other business oriented commentors: I worked for Coca-Cola Foods and decided I would like to serve children and my community. Please stop commenting on issues of which you have no experience. Teaching is an extremely rewarding profession but defintiely more involved than the business world. The pay is not nearly as equivelant due to extremely small increments in education compared to larger salary increases in business. We get paid for the days we work and have rallied to work a longer school year but the politicians and parents are against a longer school year. You need to be more informed or join us in the ranks of teaching before spewing your ignorant comments.

Solutions

July 3rd, 2012
9:03 am

Mr_B – Reverse your question, are you capable of doing engineering work? Most likely not. I on the other had am capable of doing so, so I have options, I could teach math, physics or chemistry in high school, a job for which I am vastly overqualified, for your 50K a year, or I could practice engineering for 150K a year. You, on the other hand, do not have such an option. You choose the easy path of an education degree, and your options are limited to education.

wanttohaveinput

July 3rd, 2012
9:04 am

I find it amusing(sarcastically speaking) when I read about systems having 2, 3, 4, or 5 furlough days. Whitfield County teachers have endured 10 furlough days for the last 3 years! We have lost so many awesome teachers that have fled to systems with 2, 3, 4, or 5 furlough days.

Former Educator

July 3rd, 2012
9:06 am

Teachers and other adults should take an economics course (or two) immediately. The idea of “government service” (which teachers are) is that one trades present dollars for future benefits. The retirement benefits for teachers is a much better guarantee than what 90% of the private sector has. When I worked in education, I only had to contribute 5% of my salary toward my retirement benefits. Now, if I do not contribute to my retirement, I will not be able to retire. Private sector employees make more money than teachers because all earnings are in the present, without the promise of future benefits. Also, when I was working in education the premiums I paid for my health insurance were far less than what I pay now.

Teachers do compare their salaries for 188 days to the salaries of employees working 250+ days. Many companies offer employees 10 personal days–sick and vacation–for the entire year. Private sector employees often have to coordinate holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas when the office requires coverage and everyone wants to take time off to be with their families. As far as furlough days, employees at Georgia State University who earned $25k a year were asked to take 8 furlough days because of budgets. Any teacher complaining of furlough days and earns more than $25k can take comfort that he/she is not the most affected person by furloughs.

For both sides, the grass looks greener on the other side.

GwinnettParentz

July 3rd, 2012
9:06 am

Yet another day of whining by those who either shouldn’t be in teaching in the first place—or only pretend to be, on behalf of the teachers’ unions.

Those of us in what teachers themselves refer to as the real world can only marvel that anyone takes such whining seriously. First on all, there are always FAR MORE applicants for K-12 teaching jobs then there are positions available.

So who do the whiners think they’re fooling?

In real world jobs there are likewise those who prefer to grouse. But most of them eventually move on to jobs which suit them. Education blogs give the impression that somehow this process is short-circuited, at least in the public sector.

RCB

July 3rd, 2012
9:13 am

Do you CHOOSE to teach, or has someone forced you? The entire public has had decades to witness the deterioration of our oublic school system. Some people choose other careers, some choose teaching. You know what you’re getting into. The private sector is no bed of roses as so many of you think and have had to take FAR more benefit/pay cuts than teachers.

MiltonMan

July 3rd, 2012
9:15 am

Fulton “survived” because of the republicans reps from North Fulton. If it were left up in the hands of idiots like Eaves, Pitts, Darnell, etc. on the Fulton County Comission, we would be like DeKalb.