Early in the year, many states and districts were bracing for a massive wave of job cuts among teachers. Florida education officials had even started preparing a virtually total elimination of art, music, and even physical education programs. Despite the prospect of federal funding assistance, many districts and state planners were not accounting for that money before it had been passed – or before it had been authorized & delivered to the state budget coffers.
Now however, the funds have started to arrive at the state level for allocation to local school districts and state universities. Art and music teachers in Florida are now being told that their jobs are safe and that their subjects will be funded in full for the next academic year.
While this is good news for teachers, students, and parents, many states still face projected budget shortfalls and there is no guarantee that new rounds of cuts will be made despite the infusion of stimulus funds. Mayors and Governors are particularly hesitant to raise taxes – angry voters are likely to replace anyone who makes their lives more expensive. As those shortfalls turn in to new cuts, politicians may look toward the schools again – epsecially as arts, music, and theater tends to appeal to a smaller segment of the student body.
Current federal standards testing favors teaching students core academic classes like writing and math. So long as these metrics determine funding eligibility, school administrators have an incentive to sacrifice anything that isn’t being directly measured by these federal testing standards. For now, many teaching jobs are safe, but the stimulus bailout is temporary at best – budget issues will need to be resolved in the next year or we’ll be set up repeat this jobs drama all over again.