Where is the love for education?

National and local politicians are worryingly disrespectful of public education

Education is getting the shaft from the government, both in Arizona and on the hill in Washington.

President Trump revealed plans for major education cuts in his first budget proposal on March 16, along with many other cuts to justify an increase in defense spending. 

This proposed shift in funding from public to charter schools would only worsen the situation in Arizona. The state's elementary school teachers are already the lowest-paid educators in the nation, despite recent efforts from state legislature to improve teachers' pay. The numbers are even worse on a per-student basis, as Arizona is spending 31 percent less than the national average. 

Earlier in the month, Arizona Rep. David Stringer, R-Prescott, claimed that teaching is an unspecialized profession that is not nearly as rigorous as other occupations. 

On the national level, Trump's first budget proposal for 2018 called for a $9 billion or 13 percent cut in funding for education. Like many other nonmilitary interests, education funding was expected to be reduced in order to make way for new defense spending. The president's budget is just a proposal, and the real budget will not be finalized by Congress until May

ASU students should be especially aware of the disregard for public education that is coming from our own politicians.

Arizonans now have first-hand experience with politicians lambasting education and the men and women that provide this vital service to the community. 

Despite being enrolled in a graduate education program at ASU, Stringer tried to clarify his remarks, and said in an email to the Phoenix New Times, "There are a lot of diploma mills out there. My point was that the academic rigor of Ph.D in education is not the same as a Ph.D in physics or biochemistry."

There is a pronounced difference between the sentiments of the legislators and the teachers.

"The voting population elects legislators that work to degrade public education," said Gene Glass, a professor in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. "They are working to cheapen it and turn funding over to charter schools which cost significantly less per student." 

Students from all departments and majors should be very worried about these trends. Stringer attacked education specifically, but his dismissal of the profession combined with an anti-education message sent through Trump's budget proposal should have students worried for the resources that support their own studies.

National and regional politicians are eager to divert funding away from future education and dismiss the struggles of today's educators. If we fail to rescue education from the chopping block, we will suffer very real consequences. ASU students need to be aware and active before the state of public education gets any worse. 

Reach the columnist at jbaker22@asu.edu or follow @jonahpbaker on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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