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K-12 education budgets are shrinking; so is teacher satisfaction

Published: Monday, Sept. 30 2013 1:00 p.m. MDT

Teachers protest proposed state budget cuts for education in downtown Los Angeles on Friday. Many of the 48,000 teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District spent the first hour of their school day on the sidewalks outside their campuses.

Nick Ut, Associated Press

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Budgets for K-12 education shrank in most U.S. states after the 2008 recession struck, but in some states the losses are drastic.

A story in USA Today said that since 2008, per-pupil spending has declined by at least 15 percent in Idaho, Arizona, Kansas, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Alabama and South Carolina.

“Of the seven states with at least a 15 percent decline in school funding between fiscal 2008 and fiscal 2014, five actually further limited their revenue by cutting income taxes,” the story said.

Across the nation, schools rely on state budgets for an average of 44 percent of their budgets, with the rest coming from the federal government, and local and municipal sources.

USA Today noted that many of the states cutting funding are those that can least afford it in the long-term. Five of the seven states with large declines received a D+ or worse in K-12 achievement based on standardized test scores.

In Oklahoma, per-pupil spending dropped by 23 percent, causing concern among education advocates about larger classes and lower teacher salaries causing further drops in education quality, USA Today reported.

In Alabama, which saw a 20 percent drop in funding, 16 percent of residents 25 and older did not have a high school diploma in 2012, the sixth-highest rate in the nation, USA Today said. A September 2013 report form the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities provided data for USA Today’s report.

The national decline in education funding parallels a drop in teacher satisfaction. The latest MetLife Survey of the American Teacher showed that since 2008, teacher satisfaction fell by a precipitous 23 percentage points.

“Teachers with low job satisfaction report higher levels of stress than do other educators and are more likely to work in high-needs schools,” the survey report said. “Less satisfied teachers are more likely to be working in schools where budgets and time for professional development and collaboration have decreased in the last 12 months.”

“Fifty-one percent of teachers report feeling under great stress several days a week, an increase of 15 percentage points over the 36 percent of teachers reporting that level in 1985.

Email: cbaker@deseretnews.com Twitter: @celiarbaker

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