Pop Quiz

Pop Quiz: First, we’ll cut education…

Anyone else feel like education gets hit as soon as budgets get tight?

From a protest of education cuts in Dublin in 2008. CC William Murphy (infomatique) on Flickr.

From a protest of education cuts in Dublin in 2008. CC William Murphy (infomatique) on Flickr.

Last week, the Chicago public schools announced that they are closing 54 schools in primarily poor African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods. They say it will help deal with a $1 billion deficit and will save over $560 million over the next ten years. Parents are confused by the closings and concerned about their children’s safety and educational well-being in light of this move.

Several years ago, three public schools in more rural Albemarle County in Virginia were also threatened with closure, again, citing budgetary concerns. The parents in these three districts fought back and won, keeping these schools open and preventing hour-long commutes and larger class sizes for their children. However, the issue has not yet been settled as of last summer.

This weekend, a leaked NASA memo suspending public outreach and education in response to the required 9% budget cuts of the sequester sent many people, myself included, scrambling for more information about our own educational programs. I’m sad to say, I can confirm the authenticity of this memo. The writing is on the wall for NASA EPO: if it’s not considered “mission critical,” it’s in danger of being cut with tightening budgets. (Here, “mission” literally means spacecraft mission, not the overall “mission” of NASA.)

With all the lip service paid to the importance of education to our localities, states, nations, and humanity is a whole, why does education always seem to be in the crosshairs of budget-panicked administrators? What can we, as educators, do to reverse this trend? How can we continue to fund and support educational efforts outside of the sphere of government?

The Pop Quiz is a question posed to you, the Scholars of Doubt. Look for it to appear Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 3pm ET.

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Nicole

Nicole

Nicole is an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at a small liberal arts college. Her home on the internet can be found at One Astronomer's Noise.

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