Home > Uncategorized > The Academic Budget Crisis – Reform Strategies to Fill the Gap, by Michael Kohlhagen (1/2)

The Academic Budget Crisis – Reform Strategies to Fill the Gap, by Michael Kohlhagen (1/2)

by Michael Kohlhagen

Facing a multitude of challenges in recent years due to widespread budgetary cuts, academic administrators must reevaluate some commonly accepted approaches to their work. Coping with diminished resources, many education professionals like myself opt to employ new directorial tactics, allocating additional funds for pioneering efforts targeted to reform existing classroom modules. According to recent statistics obtained by the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), the economic recession of the past few years has inflicted a notable fiscal blow to the budgetary infrastructure of elementary and secondary schools across the country.

Data gleaned from the AASA survey shows that 34 percent of respondents expect furloughs in 2011, with 66 percent anticipating layoffs in the coming year as well. Regarding the effect that sweeping budget cuts elicit on students, 57 percent of those surveyed reported increased class sizes during the 2010-2011 school year, and 65 percent foresee a similar trend in 2011-2012. Compounding the difficulties confronting administrators and teachers, 27 percent of AASA survey respondents noted that they eliminated summer school programs during the 2010-2011 academic year, and 40 percent predict summer program cuts in 2011-2012.

Moreover, 17 percent of those polled were forced to reduce the frequency and duration of collaborative planning sessions between Administration and faculty with26 percent forecasting the continuation of this trend in 2011-2012. A large volume of research exists that spotlights the positive effects of smaller class sizes, special programs, and teacher collaboration.

In a December 2010 article published by the Learning First Alliance, Anne O’Brien points out that students in grades K-3 placed in classes with fewer than 18 students perform at a higher level on standardized reading and mathematics exams. In a similar vein, minority students demonstrate marked gains in test performance when they receive individualized attention from teachers, yet another positive facet tied to a reduction in class size. The Learning First Alliance article also acknowledges an analogous correlation between minimized class size and scholastic achievement for middle and high school students.

by Michael Kohlhagen

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