Cutting Budgets But Not School Spirit
The state of education in my school
Kid Reporter Maya Williams with the principal of her school, Ernie Brodersen. (Photo courtesy Maya Williams)
Some classes at Akimel A-al, a 1,100-student suburban middle school in Phoenix, Arizona, now have 36 students to one teacher. Akimel is one of the many schools suffering from budget cuts around the country and its administrators, staff, and students think that the many small cuts have had a negative impact on academic success.
Even though, school wide, the student-to-teacher ratio averages 30 students per teacher, some classes are much larger. That does not mean that the teachers are not well prepared.
"I like the teachers because they're more experienced than others out there," said Luke J., an 8th grader.
"The teachers are really cool," says 6th grader Hannah M.
Still, Akimel's principal, Ernie Brodersen, would like to add more teachers. There just isn't enough money in the budget, he said.
"I just wish we had the money to provide more opportunities [for kids]," Brodersen said. "I would love to have a math intervention teacher and a reading intervention teacher to help kids that struggle. But if I had two full-time teachers, it would cost $100,000."
That lack has especially shown up in advanced studies.
"We can't have more than one Upper-Level Math class, or Advanced Language Arts class, so there has to be one big class, like in Pre-Algebra, which has 33 kids," Brodersen said. "At the same time, there are just 25 kids in Social Studies."
Many of the teachers also think that Akimel needs more funding to solve its problems like increased class size and decreased instruction time. The school has also had to cut programs, limit supplies, and deny pay increases. Clubs, sports, and electives have been disappearing because of lack of money to keep them running.
"Every kid used to be required to attend physical education every day, and now P.E. is an elective," said Chris Hanson, a P.E. teacher and the longest serving educator at Akimel.
"I would want [Akimel] to have football," says student Luke J.
Despite the financial problems, Akimel remains an "Excelling" school according to the Arizona Department of Education. And staff and students are positive about the school. For instance, all interviewees agree that the school has awesome students and great staff.
Christy Combs, a 6th-grade Social Studies teacher, likes working with an amazing community.
Melvyn Jones, a 6th-grade Math teacher, remarks that in Akimel everyone cares about each other and that nothing gets ignored.
Betty Lauder, a 6th-grade Language Arts teacher, appreciates Akimel's good principal and administration.
Hanson, the P.E. teacher, recognizes the high standards and expectations of the school.
And Desarae Stelling, a 6th-grade Science teacher, enjoys all of the above (and secretively shared with this reporter her devotion for mashed potato and gravy day at the cafeteria).
OUR SCHOOLS, OUR FUTURE
In conjunction with NBC News' Education Nation, Kid Reporters around the country have interviewed their teachers, principals, and classmates about the state of education in their communities and what the classroom of the future might look like in the special report Our Schools, Our Future.
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