TPS Superintendent Dr. Keith Ballard Speaks Out on Cuts to Teacher Workforce
On today's program, we speak with Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Keith Ballard, who --- like every other school system administrator across Oklahoma --- is working hard to deal with the new reality of reduced state expenditures for education. Indeed, such aid is now lower than it was four years ago. Less and less money for schools, teachers, classrooms, and textbooks means more and more to be alarmed about, according to Dr. Ballard, who announced just last week that TPS could expect an across-the-board increase in average class size and the loss of many teaching positions through attrition. As Dr. Ballard has recently posted on the official TPS website: "I think it's important that everyone fully understand our predicament. I also think it's time we mobilize parents and community supporters to issue a wake-up call to our state legislators. They are the ones with the power --- and the purse strings --- to fix the dire circumstances in which we find ourselves. Two years ago, we received $7.6 million in federal stimulus job funds that helped us to avoid cutting teaching positions. We were careful and only spent $2 million in the first year and allocated the remaining $5.6 million for teaching positions for this year. Therefore, in June 2012, the remaining $5.6 million will be depleted, which means we have no dollars left to cover this hole in next year's budget. This puts us in an unfortunate position where we will need to trim 75 classroom teaching positions." (You can read Dr. Ballard's statement in full here.) Also on StudioTulsa today, our commentator Barry Friedman looks at the raging debate over health coverage for the uninsured in America and wonders, "What the heck happened to this country?"