25-Year-Old Textbooks and Holes in the Ceiling: Inside America’s Public Schools

We invited America’s public school teachers to show us the conditions that a decade of budget cuts has wrought in their schools.

Comments: 195

  1. I have often volunteered in public schools that look worse than prisons. When parents neglect their children, social services gets called. What is the remedy when state legislators permit the educational neglect and abuse of our children? What does it say about a culture that values tax cuts for the rich more than its children’s futures?

  2. As many people here you seem to be somewhat confused.

    Your legislators, just like the rich people that support them value education a lot. I'm sure they all spend hefty sums on their own children's education. What they don't value is education for the poor, for the minorities, for the outcast.

    I know socialism still has very bad press in the US, but this is very much a class struggle issue rather than a cultural issue. These legislators know that education is important that's precisely the reason why they try to deny it to these people.

  3. Baptiste is correct. I would argue that economic class divisions are even more perilous than the racial divisions in our nation. And I would also caution that the chickens always come home to roost...eventually our nation will pay for all this neglect. Perhaps we are paying already. But at least our military has trillions more to spend on endless and pointless wars, and at least our billionaires received their tax cut. What in God's name is wrong with this country?

  4. go vote.

  5. The political cult of Greed Over People delivers yet another 3rd-world indictment of America’s shattered common good.

    Taxes are the price of a decent civilization.

    The alternative is intellectual, moral and economic bankruptcy.

    Register and vote on November 6 2018 to restore funding for civilization.

  6. Awesome, Socrates.

  7. America spends the most in education on the planet. The problem is not money in the system. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/us-education-spending-tops-global-list-stud...

    And considering taxes are extracted by gun point -cops will arrest you, seize all your property, and lock you in a cage if not beat and kill you- if you don't fork over your money, any culture served by taxation is not civilized. It is a society based on violence. Civilization is about peaceful exchanges of goods and services, not brutality and fear. Taxes are antithetical to civilization.

  8. Remember "only the little people pay taxes" or pay them promptly or share their tax returns with the public.. This about sums up the current administration.

  9. As a room parent and volunteer at my sons' elementary school, I get a front row seat about the public schools. Most of the critics of public schools haven't stepped foot in one in decades.

    We are fortunate that Stamford has very strong schools, and that former schools superintendent Joshua Starr standardized the curriculum before Common Core kicked in. That said, it's a disgrace that education is at the bottom of barrel in the U.S. The schools are crumbling. In one of the schools, the doors to the classroom were close to falling off. PTOs are raising money to buy smart boards. Parents have to provide soap. This is ridiculous.

  10. "Stamford has very strong schools"? You can't possibly be serious

  11. Schools aren't crumbling in Darien or Wilton both of which spend less than Stamford on a per child basis. And "very strong schools" sounds like you do not actually have a student in Stamford

  12. And Stamford is among the wealthiest communities on the planet, so property taxes are not a problem.

  13. Thank you for a great article that puts a spotlight on the plight of our education system.
    I passed this on to 6 educators who will all be able to relate.

    I got a teaching certificate and a Masters in Education. After two years in public schools in the 1990's, I left the profession, even though I loved working with the students.

    The classrooms were crowded, the superintendent was a jerk who created chaos, and the long hours grading and preparing lessons were exhausting. Like the teachers featured here, I spent hundreds of dollars of my own money on supplies.

    Our society needs to invest in our future. We need to adequately fund public education and compensate dedicated teachers. I would rather my taxes went towards education than the military.

  14. Try private schools, around here they have nice buildings and mostly polite students. And public education is not a federal responsibility so your idea of defense vs school is incorrect.

  15. Vulcanalex,

    Don’t you agree that ALL students, regardless of their ability to pay, deserve a quality education, and that the teachers who work hard to provide that deserve fair compensation, good working conditions, and respect? You forget that private schools can reject any student they choose, and therefore educate often the best and the brightest WITHOUT any standards imposed upon them, while public schools must accept and educate everyone. It seems that you, blinded by your ideology, missed the whole point of this article.

  16. How much was the superintendent's salary and the salary of his administrative staff. How many assistant principals and athletic directors are there and how much do their salaries and pensions cost?

    The military costs 11% of federal spending, one of the few constitutional obligations of the federal government. K-12 is funded 90% by state and local government.

    If you don't like school funding, it is a state and local issue.

  17. As a retired teacher, this saddens me so much. The US does not seem to value education. Our teachers are responsible for preparing our children for their futures. Don't we owe them the best and brightest teachers and the latest technologies and supplies?

  18. It is dangerous for many teachers to speak out because central office or the board do not like negative press. I hope more people see the pictures and read the examples.

  19. My son is a 5th grade student in the Portland Public School district in Oregon. Water fountains here have been shut down for 2 years because the old pipes were leaching lead into the drinking water. He doesn’t even get textbooks-they basically share old ones at school or, more often, the kids make due with stacks of photocopies. Every other kid on our neighborhood block attends private school, which arguably isn’t much better. When will people figure out that when you drain all the funding out of education, you’re basically undoing all the progress that made this country excel? There are no shortcuts: education costs money and when you skimp, you get what you pay for!

  20. ...and yet we spend more per pupil than all but a handful of countries (Switzerland, Norway, etc).

    Maybe some context on where all that money goes, if not to the classrooms?

  21. Where are you getting that statistic? If that's an average, then that includes districts where you have a high per capita spending rate and other districts with a low per capita spending rate. Average it out and you get schools with 20 year old textbooks. Vouchers aren't the answer. Pooled funding is.

  22. Meanwhile the military spending is at an all-time high of over $800 billion dollars, and the Pentagon can’t even account for $6.5 TRILLION dollars it spent. Yes, trillion.

    The American people deserve better. It’s our country and we need to take it back, voting in politicians who reflect our values. The youth movement to get out the vote for gun control should extend to education. Politicians for way too long have counted on a measly 17% of eligible voters under 25. It that number jumped to 50% we might be looking at real change.

  23. The young people marching for gun control -- and just since February! about 2 months ago! -- are not marching for better schools. In fact, Parkland is a very wealthy and mostly white community -- 78% white -- and average home values are $500K, which is VERY high for Florida. This problem with schools is certainly not new and did not start under Trump last year. It is an ongoing, 40+ year old problem and it was caused when teachers unionized, and jacked up their pay and luxe benefits with no regard for students.

  24. "Military Spending in the United States. In fiscal year 2015, military spending is projected to account for 54 percent of all federal discretionary spending, a total of $598.5 billion."

  25. Whereas entitlement spending takes up almost 50%. Defense spending is about 15% of the total budget. The difference between entitlement and discretionary is that you must fund entitlement, but you don't have to fund discretionary. Truth is a dangerous thing.

  26. Every other developed nation in the world makes the quality of education for their children a high priority. The Republican experiment of the last 40 years of trickle down economics and strangling the flow of money to basic government institutions has created a plutocracy and made the American dream ever harder to attain.

  27. These accounts are beyond heartbreaking, they are the symptoms of a deeply diseased society, one so sickened with tax abatement fever it no longer cares about its most vulnerable resource, its young people. Given our system of local educational control, there will always be material discrepancies between wealthy communities and poor ones but the federal government should insist upon a minimum per capita expenditure across the nation. And if local districts can’t meet that minimum due to poverty, federal subsidies must be offered to make up the difference. In a society as unequal as ours, the very least we can do is assure some modicum of a level playing field in the first 12 years of schooling. A decent education shouldn’t be the sole privilege of those whose parents can afford to live in a decent school district.

  28. Well said, Christian. Tax cuts aren't free and always mean a spending cut to something in the public sector...never revocation of a tax cut or subsidy somewhere else. Here in Georgia, our General Assembly fully funded education for the first time in many years and they act like they did something heroic rather than something basic they are supposed to do!

  29. I propose a radical change in funding: all public schools should be 100% federally funded, the same per capita, adjusted for local costs. Local control could be maintained, or it can be a consortium.

    This would be a national expression of our care for people, and that's symbolically important, and it would level the grotesque disparities between wealthy and poor areas. Lastly, obviously schools should be generously funded.

    We might need an entirely new culture to embrace this, however.

  30. Thank you teachers for telling your stories and standing up for our children. Just as our federal government has emptied the State Department in favor of huge military spending so our state governments are funding prisons and militarized police ratner than education. Just as our federal legislators brag about the “gift” of their budget busting tax cut so state legislators curry votes by offering huge budget busting tax breaks to big business. Now parents need to step up and insist on change.

  31. The apparent contempt we seem to hold for schools, teacher salaries, and sometimes students themselves borders on criminal. Don't our elected officials realize this a national investment? Failure to properly support this will come home to roost. It's a competitive world out there. We can either participate or be bystanders.

  32. We are already bystanders, but locked in the delusional belief that we are still the best and most deserving. We can't fathom how people from developing countries come over here and snap up high-tech, professional jobs, yet they are doing it.

  33. Great public education and a robust immigration were two of the essential pillars of our vibrant democracy, THEY made America great. How can we so easily abandon the vision?

  34. In my school district "robust immigration" has overwhelmed the infrastructure and the resources.

  35. Look at how much immigration costs a school district now. It's not like the 'old days' when you went to school and were taught in English whether you understood it or not. There were no special education classes or ESL (English as a second language). It's worlds away from that and the school districts have to pay for it.

  36. Yes, but fortunately, the billionaires got their tax cuts.

  37. That's Federal taxes (FICA). It has nothing to do with this. Teachers are employed by their states, counties -- sometimes cities. They are not Federal employees.

  38. Middle school teacher here in NYC. We have it way better than many, it appears. And at the same time, I am struck by the out of pocket expenses (which are not reimbursed, in case you didn't realize that). How many people in the private sector, or in any other government department, for that matter, pay with their own money for basic supplies to simply do their job on a regular basis knowing it will never get reimbursed? That's an honest question.

    In contrast, think of how many in the private sector lay out money for trips or entertaining clients, which is reimbursed fully, and then actually profit from those expenditures by accumulating points on their credit cards for personal travel!

    Relying on the generosity of teachers, or donors through donorschoose or other foundations, is a shameful way for a nation to fund its public education.

  39. Think about how many private sector employees are funding classrooms out of pocket. My list for elementary as a parent asked for tissues, markers, snacks for those who were eligible for free breakfast, cash for field trips, art supplies, pencils, crayons, paper, binders, ziplocs, and so forth. I had to pay for novels for English class that had print large enough that my kid could actually read them, and classes like College Algebra from some college they had an arrangement with because the district doesn't offer a free version for compelled students who are by state law supposed to have a full schedule of classes. Please don't slam us...we're working long hours and contributing more than the PTA. There is no tax deduction for us for what we're paying out of pocket, other than 50 cents for donating a novel to the library bookstore to resell IF the school uses it the next year.

    To me, those old dictionaries look great. My kids' school didn't have any in the classrooms. A few teachers in elementary begged the parents to donate, and finally a community mens' group did take on the mission of providing all third graders with one. Fat lot of good that does by high school.

  40. No one should ever have to put out their own money for supplies. But over here in the private sector, I’m still working out from underneath what I’ll owe to Uncle Sam in 2018 and it’s already April.

    I doubt we’ll ever have a story on the banker in New York who spent 6 months of her year to donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to those who needed help - through taxes. But if a teacher spends 500 on supplies, it gets a NYT feature.

  41. http://seethroughny.net/payrolls?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIvZak5rvF2gIVDZNpCh0ME...

    NYS publishes the salaries of all state and local civil servants.

    Check out the salaries of any friends you know by putting their names in the search bar, and then convince yourself they are underpaid for their 170 day work year. Particularly check out how many administrative salaries are out there and that the superintendent of schools in a small school district is making $400,000 and the athletic director is making $250,000.

  42. Just last week, I showed the university students in my social justice class the Bill Moyers documentary "Children in America's Schools" which is based on Jonathan Kozol's book "Savage Inequalities". Before screening it, I told the students, "This was made in 1996, but unfortunately it is still true today." In today's class we'll be reading this article.

  43. Kozol’s appearance on the “Today” show regarding “Savage Inequalities” inspired me to become a teacher at age 40. I lasted 20 years, but barely. I don’t know what is worse: the fact that all these educational circumstances have only worsened since his book was written, or that the public has come to simply accept this unending, downward spiral. When will it end? How will it end?

  44. Mr. Clark: one example here is Boston schools -- horrifically segregated by race, in 2018!!! -- and Boston is among the very wealthiest places in the US....very liberal politically (Elizabeth Warren is their Senator!)....almost entirely run by Democrats forever. But segregated like it was in Mississippi in the 1950s. And clearly here, treating poor black students in a substandard fashion vs. affluent white kids. And of course, the elephant in the room is POWERFUL Democratic-run unions that pay an ordinary teacher $110,000 to work 6 hours a day, 180 days a year and retire at 52. There's your problems, in a single paragraph. NOW -- what will anybody do about this?

  45. Many Canadians who travel by car through the US are shocked to see how poorly many of its citizens live. We draw comparisons to third world countries.

    Despite this, you support a political system that takes billions just to put the takers into office, while rejecting the use of taxes to pay for the supports of a ‘more perfect union’, including education and healthcare. It’s incomprehensible to outsiders.

    But even here in Canada, where teachers could be counted among the more privileged, with union support and better pay, they use their own funds for classroom supplies while politicians and administrators remain shackled to yesterday’s status quo.

    With all the complex challenges facing the world today, it’s surely time to turn the whole system on its head and value education above political graft?

  46. This is what Republican tax cuts have done to our schools, and what they have done to our infrastructure in general. Strong evidence that "trickle down" does not work, and a shameful example of what "making America great again" really means. Thank you to the dedicated teachers who are still teaching and who truly value education. We hope that help will be on the way after the November elections.

  47. Respectfully, if the problems are more than 2 years old, both Democratic and Republican parties need to share the responsibility for the state of the schools.

    In Ontario, Canada, the teaching profession has done rather well with the last 15 years of a more "progressive" government, however, the actual school facilities are also in a rather dismal state.

  48. Since schools are funded locally the republicans are only at fault if your area is a republican majority. There are just as many failing schools in democrat areas, and some have shocking levels of corruption. Who's the majority in your town?

  49. Strike, teachers, strike! As an educator I’m with you!

    Coincidentally, at both of my previous teaching jobs in the public sector, they have recently received multi-million dollar renovations to their school buildings. Gorgeous! It’s just that those schools are in The Netherlands.

    We have no idea how costly this mistake is to our nation. Education must be funded, it is an investment in our country’s future. The ramifications of doing otherwise are stultifying and frankly, already beginning to show.

  50. It's awful that a school teacher, with years of education and training, barely tops $53 000 a year. I have to admit that if I had been in your shoes, I would have walked away and simply gone into another field. Unless you draw a line and put your worth on the line nothing will change.

  51. Classism is evident in this very disturbing piece whenever one sees the salary differentials. But it's obvious that American communities pay lip service, at best, to the idea of providing a solid education to our young people and giving them the best chance to participate in our economy. An economy that will not provide many of them jobs if they don't become highly specialised since robots, artificial intelligence and automation are rapidly depleting the ranks of the blue collar workers.

  52. Our country's priorities are so misplaced. There are so many basic things that could be done to improve our educational system if only we had the right leaders in our country. Sadly, we do not. I keep hoping and praying that things will turn around. Hopefully, voting for the candidates that include education as a priority is what we need.

  53. Thank you for sharing these teachers' experiences as they illustrate the hypocrisy of our legislators.

    Great lip-service is given the need for quality preschool and K-16 education to prepare our kids for their rapidly evolving world. But when it comes to prioritizing funding education bills and budget items are considered last. For many states the ideology of "no new taxes" dictates that there can be "no new investment" in education even though numerous legitimate studies tell us that quality education is THE essential element to success in life.

    We as a nation need to re-evaluate our priorities.

  54. I have been a teacher in the Boston Public Schools for over a decade. In such a wealthy city, you’d think our students would easily have access to science and social studies, field trips, counselors, and reading specialists. Our students are in segregated schools - I teach in a high poverty school with 99% children of color. I feel fortunate to have received so many donations from DonorsChoose over the years. I am always seeking opportunities to highlight our students and their strengths and needs -through writing, presenting, networking. But why should it be so hard to get folks to invest in our children? Every day is an advocacy battle, and teachers are the strongest warriors in voicing the reality of American education.

  55. I used to love to read the names, dates, and condition of the texts we used in and reused in school. It was a sign of encouragement to know that others had gone through what I'd be going through. And we never thought that teaching was a job like any other job. We never equated money with learning. Now, textbooks are downloaded much more cheaply to a smartphone and teachers are in it for the money. Times change. Retired now, I too would spend a lot on supplies for students. But in other white collar jobs, doesn't the happy hour bill add up? So what if I spend my happy hour allowance on pens, pencils, and paper? I wanted to. If I had wanted to spend that money the way other white collars workers do, I'd have gone into that line of work instead.

  56. I often hear people wondering out loud what is wrong with the USA and they almost never say that education is a problem.

    It is a shame that we should have to read articles like this in richest and the most militarily advanced country on earth.

    These children are supposed to become our next generation of generals, political leaders, Doctors, lawyers, inventors and titans of industry. How on earth are these children supposed to learn and prosper in broken down schools with teachers who themselves are living hand to mouth because their pay is so low.

    It is time that we realize that our future depends on how well we train and educate our next generation and the one after that.

  57. It is hard to believe that these stories are happening in America. What are these government officials thinking about? These students are our country’s future generation. As a tax payer, I feel that we are obligated to see that the future of our country is protected. What are we leaving our children?

  58. Why do we keep electing Republicans as governors? In every state, they notoriously slash budgets for basic things like schools and infrastructure upgrades. Come on folks, we get what we pay for! We look like the developing world in large swaths of this country.

    Make America great again? Then lets begin by funding the things that make America great, like a great education for ALL CHILDREN, research & development, and on a massive publicly funded infrastructure program. Raise taxes on the wealthy, on corporations, and on carbon.

  59. Ooops! I forgot to add that while the republican governors and their republican-controlled legislatures slash the budgets for things that enrich ‘the common good’ and that truly make america great again, they lower taxes for our wealthiest. Clearly, the typical republican agenda— stick it to america, the poor, and middle class— and make the elite richer.....

  60. Your hatred of republicans is obvious but has nothing to do with the issue. I live among the bluest of the blue, local and state taxes regularly increase, school spending is near the highest in the country but the quality of the education is poor

  61. Yes, let's pour more money at the problem, that's really helped already. We spend more per pupil than just about any other nation and our students are mediocre at best. Maybe it's time to start looking somewhere else for a solution.

  62. You can't cut taxes, give more to the defense industry and have a health care system with out-of-control costs and expect to have enough left to pay for education and infrastructure. It's simple arithmetic.

  63. ...and yet there is money to arm teachers? Why not arm teachers with words, images, ideas, a respectable salary, and an inspiring learning environment.

  64. Taxes pay for civilization. The dumbing down of America is purposeful and has been largely successful. We have whole swaths of the electorate that are incapable of critical thought. For readers that want to help locally/nationally , support Donorchoose.org - it has changed my classroom.
    Yet this does nothing to address the fundamental lack of respect for education and teachers in the USA, that is a deeper cultural crisis and will be our undoing.

  65. If there is a lack of respect for teachers do you think it's because of what we see in teachers ourselves? To get into a college of education is easier then any other major. We don't test teachers on whether they know much more than their students. They dress unprofessionally (jeans and t-shirts) and yet wish us to see them as professionals. I could not dress that way at work and neither can my daughter. I could give you a list of the incorrect and flat out wrong things my children have been told in their classes. It's a two way street. To get respect you much act as if you deserve it.

  66. I taught in Florida and Texas. There were terrible problems with the classrooms and books. In Texas the students ( in the 3rd ward, very poor area) were issued books, and at the end of the year if all the books weren't returned the teachers had to pay for lost books.
    Administrators make more than twice as much as teachers. One principal spent his day watching rerun soaps on his tv. Teachers are treated in a disgusting manner. In Florida I was treated terribly by administrators who were doing their best to fire all the new teachers. The florida teachers union seems to be an arm of the administration in Broward County. Miami- Dade schools were better though. I taught in Texas in the portables, which were called the shacks. Apt. Education is the most important part of our American Democracy, yet charter schools are considered better. It's just not true, check the research. But, because they are cheaper to run school districts funnel money to them. This is a total disaster. Funding of schools also is terrible. I won't go into that. Now I teach at a university in the Middle East. I am paid well and treated like a professional. What's going in America? By the way I'm an American citizen, and disabled Army Veteran.

  67. We will never have true equality of opportunity until our disparity in primary school education is addressed.

    I personally don’t want to see one more of my tax dollars going to the military until EVERY student is guaranteed the opportunity for a top notch education, no matter the school district one lives in.

  68. Before I take away money from the military I want every school district to have listed every employee and how much money they make. I want every administrator and what they do listed. I want all disbursements listed for the last 5 years (money that was paid out). I want all future liabilities listed for the next 10 years (money to be paid out). I want standards at our education colleges overhauled so that it is hard to get admitted (higher standard of student) and the curriculum is fact based and stringent. That's what it's going to take to turn education around in this country, not more money. We pay more per pupil than just about every other country. If money could have solved the problem it would have by now.

  69. I believe the private school system is partly to blame for this. Parents which have the ability, public standing, resources and influence to pressure politicans to increase the funding for public schools don't do so because they have the possibility to send their cildren to a private institution. In my country the private school sector isn't so big and as a result our public schools are better funded and teacher is a well paid position. We have also some schools in terrible conditions and other issues though. Mostly, like in the US, school funding is related to the social economic background of the neighborhood and the children which attend the school even if it isn't supposed to be like this.

  70. All schools in the states receive federal money. The poorer the area the more money they receive. We pay more money per pupil than Germany, but our outcomes are much worse. A lot of this money is siphoned off by corruption in many districts, but also our education colleges are very poor and take the weakest students. Money is not the problem here.

  71. The issue is lack of uniformity. On Long Island, taxes pay on average over $30,000 per student in public schools and teacher salary easily average over $100,000. The taxes here are so high that young people or the very old can no longer afford to live here.

  72. Thank you for putting this article together. It helps paint a clear picture of what teachers across the country face every day. I’m also sick of being patted on the head when I receive a 1% cost of living increase and told that I’ve picked a noble profession. Teachers shouldn’t be expected to be martyrs.

  73. When will one story link Holes with the story yesterday about pensions. There are fair questions about taxes but there are also fair questions about how we choose to allocate resources. Yesterday's bargain (political expediency, labor piece) can crowd out today's necessities.

  74. The current disregard for funding education also extends into the Public University systems. Our legislators seem to feel that an UNeducated electorate is best for our country.

    I am tired of what is probably our most important societal investment being treated as an expense.

  75. Until I became a teacher midlife after a career in medical publishing, I never knew how untenable the situation is in public schools.

    Mostly I was shocked at how little respect the profession seems to garner. It is absolutely the most difficult job I've ever had (I've had many) both physically, emotionally, and professionally. You really have to know what you are doing to help students learn.

    I taught for 2 years in New Mexico. I applied for food stamps because I couldn't afford the basics. (I did not qualify). With a master's degree, I made $34,000. But my take home pay was $935 every two weeks because of the deductions. One paycheck just about covered my rent. The other half went to utilities and surviving. I worked two other jobs.

    I had 29 5th graders and $100 for the year to cover supplies and buy a mandatory classroom library.

    After two years of struggling, I moved overseas to improve the quality of my life.

    I am sad that children are valued so little in the US. If we actually cared about children we'd have accessible health care for all children, support services for families that were well funded (1/4 of all children in the US are food insecure) , AND teachers who are provided what they need to do their jobs without having to work a second job just to survive.

    It is unconscionable. We will pay the price for this lack of focus on children and their needs.

  76. The concerted effort to underfund public schools is based on the concept that these are government schools run by liberals who are adversely influencing students. State legislatures have channeled funds to vouchers and "charter schools" (which are really private schools in the guise of public schools funded by public money). They have been influenced by the Tea Party and ALEC. If people get disgusted with public schools - the old books, the buildings falling apart as well as elimination of programs like art and music- then fewer kids will attend, teachers will quit. Then the "real" public schools are reduced. If teachers leave their public school jobs, the legislature does not have to fund retirement programs. the interesting reasons for vouchers is that public school teachers will save the state money - save the contribution to the "big entitlement" of teacher retirement. Private/charter teachers are not in the system. There has been an anti-public education movement gaining momentum through a bootstrapping by politicians who say teachers make too much money, public schools are failing, retirement systems for teachers are too expensive - yet these same politicians ride the public benefits bus. Taxpayers have been voting down bond issues and levies (depends on the state) because they have been fed plenty of propaganda. As a retired public school teacher, I invite legislators to walk a day in the shoes of a teacher; you might get it then.

  77. I remember the 1970s in NYC public schools where 20 year old text books were the norm and my elementary class had 38 students. They were not the good old days and I was denied a full education in my early leaning years.

    I can tell you funding makes a difference in outcomes. My children thrived in NYC schools and had terrific outcomes.

    Parents regularly relocate to high tax school districts to take advantage of better schools. Better schools not only lead to better students but better local economies.

  78. If there is a follow up to this article, can the school district staffing and offices be reviewed? And local taxes to support these schools?
    What I hear about the local public school system is that the administration is well supported, yet the actual teaching staff in the classrooms lack funds.

  79. I attended NYC public high school 45 years ago during Viet Nam era. My school was so overcrowded then, that we were one of the first to have morning classes for the higher grades and midday the lower grades began their day. The consequences of that decision was losing a period in which we could use the library, get advisory help or take a technical skills shop. Our books were all outdated 25 year old books that we barely used. We did not have assigned desks or storage lockers, thus we carried out books in to school each day as well as wear our heavy winter coats in each class. As kids we shrugged and for those who were uninterested in school dropped out quickly. With a graduating class of 1900, it was some feat trying to get out of there and most of us wound up into the dregs colleges of City University which had the worst teaching faculty in the nation. Elementary and high school years are so important and formulate the student’s future.

  80. I went to Brooklyn College in the late ‘60s tuition free. I only paid a student activity fee. I had great teachers ! I received a solid education which has made a big difference in my life.

  81. TN, 42,000, 3 years experience. (37,000 in rural NC)
    I recently moved to a city school away from my old school in NC. When I saw my new classroom I almost cried. It's half the size of my old one, the walls are covered in peeling paint and hot glue, the desks are graffitied and old. I have nearly 30 students in this room. While other classrooms in the building are larger and have cabinets, my room has none, though some furniture was provided.

    I've done my best to organize it. However, our school of 1,100 students has about 5 industrial printers to share among staff we have something called "print shop" where if you think you're going to need a lot of copies, you can send them off. That means that the other teachers in my department send large stacks of paper far in advance that I have nowhere to store, so there's huge stacks of paper everywhere.

    I've given out about 300 pencils and we ran out of paper before Christmas. We have an ant problem. My room is half size but the heating system is not, it's too hot or too cold. There's a ladder in the back of my room that leads to the roof for maintenance purposes that makes it so that we can hear anything on the roof. We are expected to incorporate technology, while we have one classroom set of thirty laptops to share amongst three teachers.

    These are minor compared to my struggles with the job itself, but yes, I am considering leaving the profession in year three. I love my students, but I'm not sure I can keep it up.

  82. I don't think this is really news.

    Back when I attended Stuyvesant High School in the seventies and eighties, our textbooks and supplies were at about the same level.

    At one point the Bomb Squad had to come into the school to remove 75 year old chemicals from the Chemistry lab, which had become unstable.

    We had classrooms closed because of fallen ceilings.

    One year my father spotted my Spanish textbook and remarked that he had used the same one in high school.
    Sure enough, the print date was 1949.

    There's nothing new under the sun.

  83. Peter: Top-ranked or not, being left with the dregs makes a student feel as though s/he is not valued.
    And what is the relevance of the internet? We had one computer in the school; it ran on punch cards and had fewer digits of precision than our pocket calculators.

    Shelly: Some of my classes had fifty students, some of whom had to sit on the windowsills and radiators.
    And NY has always required Phys-Ed - it hones a student's malingering and clowning skills. After months of work, I learned how to fall forward without reaching out to break my fall, though I never did learn to dribble a basketball.
    So cry me a river.

    Joey, SGG, & Kat: When did I say anything about Right and Wrong? I just said neglect of students was never particularly unusual. Personally, I think it stinks.

    Ms. Jeavons: Are you trying to say that it is okay to have decaying buildings and thirty year old textbooks, so long as those textbooks are about foreign languages?

  84. Eric, similar experience here; I am a proud graduate of the District of Columbia public schools from the 1970s. The buildings were clean but unrenovated, from the 1930s.

  85. Perhaps the language has not changed but certainly the research that has been conducted since then has provided better ways of teaching. We are constantly refining our knowledge of just how we learn and textbooks need to keep up with that methodology.

  86. None of this surprises me. I was in Massachusetts public school from '96-'07, and even back then, in one of the best public schools systems in the state, I saw textbooks like this. We had history books that thought the Vietnam War was still going on, science textbooks that made no mention of computers, and our math "books" were disposable packets that had long outlived their intended life spans. When I transferred to an alternative school, the quality of materials, educators, and facilities went way up - but so did the costs. I heard back then this alternative school cost my public school district nearly as much as a public university.

    America has been divesting from their public education for decades, and now we're seeing the affect this has on our democracy. An electorate must be well educated if it is to be effective. News sources can only do so much if the reader never was given the tools to identify which ones are credible, never mind form and articulate an opinion on the stories of the day.

    Education will always be expensive, but if we wish to continue to lead the world as a democracy and technological super power, we must invest. Education should be the first to receive its budgets, and the last to see cuts. Our teachers need to be paid a living wage, and we need to hire more of them to get better student:teacher ratios. Just order a few less F-35s, and we should be able to pick up the tab without much issue.

  87. The teachers in our area make $15,000 above the starting salary of the private sector. The idea that they don't make a 'living wage' is without basis.

  88. I have taught for 32 years and can say, it is not as easy as it looks if you do it right. Education is power and it does not behoove those who have it to support those that may claim ownership someday. If you let people learn to think critically, they may understand that their rights and money are being given away to those who have everything.
    Why are we not teaching civics anymore as a subject? It has been gone for a long time. Our system has degenerated into the medieval, and not accidentally

  89. In my city, we all complain about our school taxes, which are absurdly high. But I am thankful for them when I read stories like this. Things are not hunky dory in our Title 1 school, but at least kids have books and teachers are decently compensated, which means they are not coming to school exhausted from their third job. Reinforces the idea that the way we fund schools needs to change if we care about equity at all.

  90. Perhaps for every bomb, missile, or bullet fired the Federal Government sets aside an equivalent amount in an education fund. The Libya strike would have added $227M to public education. Eventually we'll be educated enough not to wage war!

  91. Whoops. The recent Syria strike, not Libya (who knows what we've spent there on munitions...)

  92. The classroom conditions, lack of supplies and funding is simply unbelievable in a country as wealthy as the United States.

    I am also shocked at the extremely low salary teachers receive.

    The entire system seems to be designed to produce the worst outcome possible for students, which will result in the worst possible outcome for the country.

    I can't believe that Americans want to destroy their own country.

  93. My daughter graduated from a top university with a double major and still doesn't make what teachers make their first year. She has been working for over 6 years! When we make colleges of education have the same standards that other majors have then lets talk about raises.

  94. This is the reality of public schools in America. It is a topic under discussed and ignored by the representatives on Capitol Hill. Public school education is no longer a priority. The children that can not afford or choose not to go to private school are left behind. I would know. I’m an eight grader at a public school in St. Louis. I have always assumed most schools are broken down with twenty year old textbooks. My instructors make so little money, some work three jobs to take care of their families. It’s a mess and I’m not sure how much more we can take before we explode.

  95. This is a moment of reckoning: after all the noble talk about how important education is to our young and to the future of this country, this testimony and these pictures tell the truth. As long as the electorate believes that cutting taxes is more important than improving our infrastructure--in this case our schools and fairly compensating our teachers--we will continue to decline as a country and as a culture. Twenty-five year-old science books?! You might as well invite in dinosaurs to teach the classes. The GOP should be ashamed of themselves: family values indeed: what's more important than nurturing our children? If we can discuss finding money to arm teachers, we can find money to buy books and pay teachers what they are really worth.

  96. "Surely more tax cuts will solve these problems", said legislators over the last 30 years (and many still).

  97. So you live in NYC, public school quality has been falling for decades, how many times have your local and state taxes been cut?

  98. Think of this article and what we have just seen when politicians complain about how our students perform academically compared to other leading countries in the world. You get what you pay for and many people and leaders in this country do not value public education for all students. There is the clear evidence!

  99. YOU do not get what YOU pay for. I think w ecan assume almost the same money is spent on the numerous successful schools in NYC as on the poor performing schools. Teachers get paid the same. Some poor schools get more money because of more problems such as vandalism and security.

  100. But we provably spend MORE than almost any other nation in the world!

  101. That is absolutely erroneous. We pay more per pupil that just about every other nation and yet our results are mediocre. It's not for lack of money.

  102. Hate to say it, but when I went through the Chicago public schools in the 1950s and 60s most of the text books I had looked like these. And bringing materials from home was more the norm than the exception. Fortunately I had a lot of very dedicated teachers and we somehow survived. But battered books and equipment in underfunded facilities was the norm. It appears to have gotten worse over the years. But we somehow survived even though life took unexpected turns.

    Looking at the entire landscape. it occurs to me that education is exactly like roads and other infrastructure -- investments in the future more than the present. That the nation has little money for these essentials or for serious exploration in the frontier above us but plenty of money to pour misery on other parts of the world is a huge tragedy. Like many of my baby boomer peers I am profoundly disappointed at how the country has turned inwards and is feeding on itself. This is not the world I thought I was going to be a part of.

  103. I work in STEM education trying to build collaboration between educators and all other stakeholders (business, families, higher ed, out of school programs, policy makers, funders) through a national movement called STEM Learning Ecosystems (www.stemecosystems.org). This effort is entirely supported by a small group of philanthropies committed to promoting equity and access to high quality STEM ed for all learners of all abilities and all ages. We view STEM literacy and competency as the essential foundation for a gainful career in any field and necessary for citizens to earn a living wage and thrive in our increasingly complex world.

    Fifty six sites across North America (covering roughly 1/2 of the population of the US) are engaged in this work. The stories we hear on the front lines of education are exasperating and promising at the same time. One example; The Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance has done amazing work for 5 years with generous financial support from local philanthropic funders (both private and corporate). The unintended consequence of such generosity is that it gives cover to legislators intent on stripping education budgets.

    We need dramatic systems change to address our antiquated and underfunded education to workforce pipeline system. Keep in mind that 30 year old biology textbooks won’t include vast amounts of scientific discovery from recent work that students entering college will be expected to know. As this work has shown-It will take a village.

  104. Extraordinary story, now let's take a look at what might be holding back our public schools. The comment about the noble but broke teacher hit a chord, so did the widely different salarys for similar working experiences in different states.

    Salary's for teachers must be a living wage, however many of the teachers have multiple jobs, many have summer work during the three months of the year they are not working.

    I feel a more appropriate situation would be altering the school year so that children are in school 12 months of the year. Children could have a rotating schedule which allows them to advance at their pace and adds significant time for the gym classes these kids need and from which many have been excluded due to budgetary restraints.

    This way teachers would in fact be working 12 months of the year and the salary would then be commenserate with a full time job. Our children are falling behind the rest of the world, any competitive edge our kids once had-has been wiped out by the influx of immigrants requiring special attention. These additional costs have taken large portions of the education budget that otherwise could have been used for the arts and physical education classes.

    I do believe that teachers should be paid a solid living wage, yet they should also be expected to work year round, not the archaic 9 months that has been the traditional schedule.

  105. Good luck with pushing for year-round school. Contrary to what you might think, many teachers would prefer to teach year-round, with breaks distributed throughout the year. However, every district I’ve taught in opposed this schedule. In my district, an “arrangement” between the school and a local business that hires many of our high school students over the summer controls our school schedule as does athletics: Without summer vacation, how can schools hold football camps? The attitude, “We’ve always done it this way” pervades, despite many good solutions proposed by teachers.....for what authority and expertise do teachers have? In our current culture, none. And therein lies the problem.

  106. It’s always been puzzling to me that “conservatives” tax cuts starve school budgets. Ironically, it’s the students who emerge that are the next generation of taxpayers — education is not so much an expense as it is an investment.

    My father-in-law, from a blue collar background, served in the armed forces and then went on to college and law school, all financed in part by the GI bill. He settled in Westchester, became a judge, and paid back in taxes many times over what he received.

    So much of what we see in current Republican policies are similarly short-sighted: failing to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, address income inequality or guarantee adequate health care for all Americans. As with education, expenditures in these crucial areas are more accurately thought of as investments in keeping America great and represent the truly conservative outlook the GOP should be promoting.

  107. A simple matter of priorities. We spend our resources on making the rich richer and staying in a perpetual state of war. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. warned us over 50 years ago.

    We are only reaping what we have been sowing for decades.

  108. States that cut taxes and starve their schools are on a downward spiral. Without an educated workforce businesses will not locate there. The tax base will shrink and school budgets will be cut - again and again. We risk having failed states.
    While states bear primary responsibility for education funding, the Federal government must step and expand school funding. For better or worse, we are all joined inseparably together. If the states obsessed with tax cuts fail, their students will become "uneducated voters" and unemployable workers, and we will all fail.

  109. What do Americans expect? They want lower taxes (who doesn’t), smaller government (laudable again!), and less wasteful public spending (bravo!). Along with those come fewer & poorer public services, including schools. It’s not rocket science.

  110. Apparently we are in a death spiral, in which voters are too poorly educated to understand this, so they vote to our future's demise, lather rinse repeat.

  111. Its interesting. I looked at some data. http://www.governing.com/gov-data/education-data/state-education-spendin...

    The average spent per student 11 400$ is close to my home country of Sweden, around 12 000$.

    The issue I assume is the unequal distribtion of the resources. From Utah and Idaho below 7000$ to Alaska and New York at above 20 000$. Further within states I assume that the funds are not distributed equally between student groups.

    Its unfortunate that most states and local goverments don't determine what is the required funding for an adequate education for all its citizens and then create a tax system to meet those needs.

    Perhaps there should be a seperate school tax that is not included in the states/cities general funds to ensure there are not cuts because of general budget constraints. This would also help informing the public what the actual cost of the children education is and if their money are spent appropriately.

  112. You are correct. The only fair way to distribute money to schools is to allow all schools an equal amount. Our system gives more to wealthy districts and less to poor districts. This is a system propped up by "states' rights" which is a holdover from the old south and slave days so it is unlikely to change any time soon.

  113. The teachers’ salaries are listed here but not the implied pension payouts they will get after 30 years of service. Story after story has shown that pension costs are consuming more and more of every state budget. If we want new books, we have to cut pension costs. Taxes are already too high.

  114. Then put them on SS.

  115. We also need to stop retire-rehire programs, where they exist, by which teachers can retire, begin to drawn their pensions, get rehired as teachers (while drawing their pension), retire, begin to draw second pensions, and so on. it's a travesty and only hurts and disheartens their colleagues.

  116. But teachers also need to eat after they retire.

  117. School funding must be divorced from property taxes and put in State and federal budgets. After looking at recent schools and facilities built in rich neighborhoods students from the poorer sections of town should protest the to the school board and demand the same.

  118. Yes, yes, yes! This is the biggest issue. Public schools being funded through local property taxes is why our schools are in this horrible state (and have been for years). Time to fund all our public schools EQUALLY through federal taxes. Time for a Constitutional amendment, people.

  119. Instead of building a wall, we could build new schools with playgrounds and parks and sidewalks. Every teacher could have enough computers for every classroom. Every student could have a new textbook for every subject. Everyone in this country would benefit.

  120. And all that construction and renovation would provide jobs.

  121. This comes as no surprise to educators. I have been retired for 11 years, but the summer before my last school year I spent $1000 to outfit the classroom, even room fans, for my new teaching assignment. And it didn’t end there. Classroom supplies did not arrive until the middle of October. Try teaching a second grade without pencils or crayons. I can’t tell you how many times I told the children that what arrived in our room was thanks to my husband. Classroom library? Purchased book by book by me. This continued throughout the year.

  122. So where to begin? Whenever a taxing authority grants tax breaks to lure a business, that shortfall has to be made up somewhere. A school district that builds sporting facilities that most small colleges would love to have. Northside Independent School District has campuses that most junior colleges would like. Meanwhile in one year while my tax rate is fixed, the value of my home went up by $13K, in effect raising my taxes while the politicians claim they didn't raise taxes. My school district is getting ready to float a bond issue just short of $1,000,000,000,000. They float these bonds on a regular basis. My property taxes account for almost 20% of my fixed income. Income and sales tax push my taxes north of 35%. I will vote against the bond issue. In the haste to cut taxes to gain political seats, we are now reaping the consequences.

  123. Not really since that business getting a tax break does come or stay and does still pay some taxes. Perhaps no tax break they move or don't come. Also their workers pay taxes. No business? No jobs. The northeast has lost enough jobs to the south and southwest.

  124. We need those schools because people keep moving here. My three kids went and graduated from schools in Northside, I am a homeowner that lives here too and pays taxes. If you don't have an income tax you have to get the money somewhere and that's the property tax. It's somewhat of a blunt instrument as it can't be graduated for peoples' income, only after you reach a certain age do the increases for schools stop. As for how nice everything is, why wouldn't they build them well? Should the new roads going up all over the place also look bad? My kids' HS had 3000 students. There are small colleges without that many incoming students.

  125. Schools should be mass cathedrals of worship towards learning. Teachers should be paid like rock or sports stars because what they do is of far greater importance than singing a song or playing with a ball. The tools for education should be plenty and accessible to any and all. Alas, we are squelching our future...

  126. One doesn;t have to pay for rock stars or sports stars just don't go to games. Its a choice. Meanwhile an educational system with janitors and educators on all levels getting health and pension benefits for money taken out of my pocket not through my own choices. A-rod brought in fans and revenue to the owners of the Yankees hence paid HUGE bucks. His salary was a positive to those paying him. Educators area drain, granted a needed drain as to the system. They cost revenue coming from my pocket and bring in none. But yes they are needed. peopel have never been paid as to their importance to society or life saving doctors would have been at the top, they never have have been. Babe Ruth when asked if it was right for him to make more than the President? "When the President puts 5,000 in the seats of Yankee Stadium everyday, he can make what I do."

  127. What we model to children demonstrates to them, in a tangible way, how much or how little they are valued.

    I taught night classes for a local university that were held in an IS in East New York. The hallways were painted a murky color that was not tan, was not brown... but worse, doors on the stalls of the bathrooms had been removed, and the bathrooms smelled awful, were filthy, and not entirely functional. I was horrified. How could we expect children to act with respect, let alone focus on their studies, when the physical environment provided them proved that they were not? And the books were students, teachers, and parents cleaned the school, repainted and ...computers? hah!

    Within a few years the school was transformed by paint and hard work into a more cheerful and welcoming place, bright colors and displays of artwork and classwork of the students-- by the teachers, students, and parents.

    How was it that the situation was allowed to devolve in the first place though? I don't want to hear a word of it being a "bad neighborhood". Students growing up in the most challenging situations deserve and need the best support possible if they are to attain their goals. Self respect is undermined when kids' are expected to endure conditions adults would find intolerable.

  128. Talent development is critical to any advanced capitalistic free market.

    Want to have a good economy? Then you must invest in talent development.

    What is crowding out educational funding? Healthcare? Pensions? Imbalanced international trade? Fix it.

  129. No, not healthcare, or trade, that’s a simplistic view. No, you need to raise taxes on the rich and corporations.

  130. Typical right-wing response by a financially secure business type. Let's blame and attack working people's healthcare and retirement programs. The business types always think they are the only ones who earn and deserve their income and benefits.

  131. The military just got a 700 billion dollar boost from Trump. Schools are expected to have bake sales.

  132. Public schools are expected to run on donations. Everything we do, every initiative, idea, or need, is funded (if at all) by teachers, students and parents, who spend their own money, and sell cookie dough, wrapping paper, candles, flogging local businesses for donations, or apply for 'grants'. All in the name of lower taxes.

  133. Been a teacher for over 20 years...the worst are classrooms...no heat in winter, no AC in summer, broken desks, loose ceiling tiles, dirty floors, inoperable window blinds (if any). Ask administration to repair rooms and you're told to fill out forms...invite admin into your classroom to see for themselves, end up on their bad side. When I'm really mad I direct the students to make appointments with admin themselves...a good civics lesson when it gets a reaction!

  134. Public schools and teachers have been demonized by so presidents since Johnson, including Obama with the Rhode Island teachers, that their is little sympathy. This is especially tragic since the middle class has not experienced upward mobility since Reagan bellowed, like an affluent crybaby, "I payed for this mike!" Without better funding, the schools will not improve, nor the the chances to break the stranglehold the rich in America have on the enforced standard of living abyss between the haves and have littles and have nots. Making the circle of ignorance complete are working class drones who vote not to raise taxes to educate thither own kids. It's educational and financial suicde for the next generation. After all, who is going to fight to break the stranglehold of the rich if the fighters don't know how to fight properly? If they are under educated about who is oppressing them?

  135. Working class drones? Stranglehold of the rich? Think you've been reading too much marxist literature. My parents were working class drones, as were my husbands', thanks for insulting them. The only thing oppressing students today is the abysmal state of teacher education. Teacher colleges are the easiest to get into (they take the weakest students) and the curriculum is beyond simple. Motivated students are not interested in this and do not apply. When teachers finally get to the classrooms they act and dress unprofessionally and are surprised that they are not respected. This is the circle of ignorance we can't break away from.

  136. Those who rail against any tax of any kind: "you can't just throw money at the problem"
    Because as we all know education suffers from a history of overfunding.

  137. We pay more per pupil that just about every other country yet our results are mediocre. I don't know, maybe we should look somewhere else for solutions. Maybe we should look at where all that money is going.

  138. Our community recently lost a music educator by the name of Scott Dyer. He taught our children for 23 years.


    This story illustrates everything that is wrong with our country. Demoralized teachers, struggling students—both hungry for education, and often food itself—create weak constituencies too tired and beaten down to engage with what the money-grabbing Republicans are doing to them. This nonsense began with Regan and now we have generations affected by the erosion of of our basic rights: an education, a job, care for returning military. My mother works with young children to help them learn to read. She says the state exhausts these children with a battery of tests they must prepare for—otherwise the school loses its federal funding. Young students packed into overcrowded classrooms prepare for tests that teach them nothing and take up most of the childrens and teachers day. The school cuts out art & music programs—programs that help young minds with cognitive thinking, but don’t serve the TESTS. My mother says that federal officials use the data from those tests as predictors. One example concerns a metric for reading. If a child hasn’t learned to read by age seven they are 100 times more likely to be incarcerated. This data is used to budget the building of new prisons. Keep people stupid. Keep them in impossible circumstances. Keep them incarcerated. Keep your job in DC.

  139. This is just horrifying. Only two of the teachers are being adequately compensated based on their degrees, and nearly all of them are dealing with grossly substandard teaching conditions. Despite this, teachers are painted as being lazy and overpaid. As the child of a teacher, I know that's far from the truth, but at least the compensation in Massachusetts is adequate.

    These teachers who are making poverty level wages are a stain on this country. It's a wonder they keep showing up to work at all. I hope they all go out on strike and demand the compensation and teaching conditions they deserve.

  140. Another shocking indictment on a culture that has lost sight of its priorities.

  141. What I see here are dedicated professional educators whose expertise, knowledge and avowed desire to aid the youngest among us--from grade school on up--is counted as less than nothing.

    Donald Trump just jumped up his Pentagon's budget for 2019 by $716-billion. A Brown University study reveals that Congressional appropriations to the Pentagon from Fiscal Years 2001-2016 have totaled more than $8.5 trillion. About $6.8 trillion of this was non-emergency. The Department of Education's budget, by contrast, is a puny $68-billion dollars.

    Where are our national priorities? We'll have a brighter future with a less-educated populace? We'll have students competing for cutting-edge jobs in technology, for example, because their educators are paid barely-subsistence wages?

    This speaks to not only our contempt for learning but also to our national contempt for the purveyors of knowledge. When one political party denies the basic fact of science and climate and the insufferable toll that human activity wreaks upon a fragile ecosystem--to the perhaps fatal catastrophic cost to flora and fauna--never mind us--then we're a nation at war with ourselves, fueled by greed, ignorance and insularity.

    The Republican Party views critical thinking skills as an attack upon our fundamentals. They de-fund education as a social evil, part of the "safety net," yet make certain their children receive the best education possible--all to advance a plutocratic society that exists solely for itself.

  142. The people who live in these areas with poor schools appear to prefer low taxes over giving their children a quality education. Bad for the USA, but other than trying to shame those folks into coughing up the money, what are those of us who pay for a quality school system supposed to do?

  143. Students would benefit from a reprint of some 50 year old textbooks, especially readers. More than 50% of high school graduate would struggle to understand the vocabulary accessible to 5th graders in 1950, and can't read literature at all. "No new words!" is a selling point for grade school readers textbooks. A professor from an Eastern European country teaching at a major Univ. of California college assigned for sophomore Math a textbook used in the 7th grade in the U.S. 50 years ago.

  144. This decay of vital public services is the result of decades of Republican political control in poorer, red states. The wealthy get to keep their money.

    The remainder get to buy all the guns they want and the satisfaction of knowing only the wealthy can buy abortions. Let’s hope they notice in November that they actually are getting a pretty lousy deal.

  145. My husband taught for 30 years and still subs for his public school district. He is a Vietnam vet and got his education with the help of the GI bill. I worked in healthcare for all these years while he was in college , during his teaching career and after.

    Living in rural Wisconsin, he travelled 1 1/2 hours one way to get his graduate credits after teaching all day. In summers and throughout the year he painted homes, inside and out for extra money, and still does. We lived very modestly and still drive old cars, as others have mentioned too.

    People should be aware Betsy DeVos, the Secretary of Education, does not have a college degree in education. She’s never stepped foot to teach a classroom.

    In Wisconsin vouchers for parochial schools from taxpayer money, has grown by leaps and bounds, while funding for public schools goes down the tubes. In several years if Scott Walker remains governor, there will be NO cap on the parochial school vouchers!

    In the meanwhile church schools enjoy expansion, the churches enjoy the funding. Parochial schools do not have to provide special ed services.

    Our public schools are drowning. UW has been defunded. Laws were made to prevent referendum
    voting regarding public schools. Public school special ed services have been cut.

    Betsy DeVos is a culprit. She helps in the demonization of public schools. Shame on her appointment, shame on Congress for approval. They don’t care about kids - they care about churches!

  146. The communities and states that allow such degradation of the school system (dilapidated schools, insufficient funding, low pay for teachers) should be ashamed of themselves - but, sadly, they have no shame. I applaud the teachers who are striking for not only better pay but also for better facilities and support! The public officials who do not value education should be removed from office.

  147. When your main campaign promise is "lower taxes," this is the end result. Parent should compare these pictures with $31,00 dining room sets, $43,000 in-office phone booths, private jet travel, $50,000+ salary increases and ask themselves, when in the voting booth, if the candidate they are voting for wants to sustain or reject this disgrace to their children.

  148. This is both heartbreaking and frightening. While the United States spends 2 billion dollars a day on its security apparatus and defending its hegemony, the real (potential) source of its exceptionalism - it's children - are being snuffed out intellectually in schools worthy of a third world nation (barring the well-off pockets where the elites have barricaded themselves). I cry for America's diminished future.

  149. Problem? There is no problem. After all, the children of rich parents can go to rich schools.

  150. One thing that hasn't been discussed is the lack of student field trips. School used to be the place where students went to Natural History Museum for the first time, or a play, or even the zoo. Even though I teach in a suburban school district, all field trips were cancelled fifteen years ago even if students could pay for it. Now, when I ask my HS Biology students how many have been to a museum to see the dinosaur display, only 1 student raised their hands. Most had never even been to the zoo. None of them had ever been on a hike through the woods. Schools used to do so much more in introducing kids to wonders of the world around them.

  151. Field trips should be part of a broad education. We have a lot of wonderful options of interesting cultural, industrial, architectural,natural history-such as zoos and aquariums- sites to visit. The district has to pay separately for that bus. When funds are tight teachers are put on notice-no field trips as bus budget is gone. Also the venue is almost never free but all students must pay general admission. This is not possible for some families. We do bring in speakers on a variety of topics to broaden horizons. We have had a raptor demonstration in the auditorium with actual eagles and hawks. Teachers are creative.

  152. I’m not faulting the teachers, but as long as you purchase supplies out of your own pockets they are happy to let you do it. It may take a different kind of strike to drive the point home. Once it becomes clear you have become a mere babysitting service you may get the teaching supplies you need. I can’t recommend implementation strategies for this approach; after all, what exactly do you do with kids with no supplies? But it may be an approach to consider brainstorming together.

  153. Given how corrupt the school book industry is, hanging on to old ones seems like a good idea. Examples abound: Sample books with all pages blank because the company knows the school board won't crack them open. Inflated prices that strangely shrink when somebody incites a bidding war. And school books that are, basically, not fit for purpose anyway, being full of non-facts and pseudo-theories. Read about Richard Feynman's experience as a school board member.

  154. I couldn't help noticing that the situation seems worse in red states. Now President Donald Trump makes sense.

  155. I live in the bluest of the blue states and we have the same problems.

  156. A serious disconnect here ( if this is meant to be a national story). Here in NY, teachers are paid REALLY well have have benefits that include a healthy retirement plan and health care. In my district the average pay ( not including benefits ) is over $100,000 and the school year is 180 days. Check out your school’s payroll on seethroughny.net. It’s eye opening.

  157. A teacher’s job is one of the hardest jobs out there.

    You should be grateful and proud, rather than bitter, that your local teachers are compensated well.

    Are you certain that your local teachers have good working conditions as well as good pay? Many do not.

  158. Thanks to all the teachers for sharing their personal information for this important article. I found the pay differential between the women and men with similar years of experience as disturbing as the lack of funding for classrooms.

  159. Well, what do you expect for$12k a year per k-12 pupil? There is a strong odor of waste and maladministration in the systems purported to serve our children. No, I am not slamming dedicated and modestly-salaried teachers: the money is going somewhere, just not to the purposes for which it is meant.

  160. You get what you pay for. Compound that with not doing anything to change the other 18 hours of a student's day in urban settings and enjoy your nearsighted show. In business this mess is known as "deferred maintenance" and can be the downfall of even the most noble endeavors.

  161. I used the EXACT SAME biology textbooks (same cover art, tiger, color, etc) when I was in high school or junior high. I'm 32 years old now.

  162. This is not only heartbreaking, but immoral. There is no excuse except negligence. What can we do other than try to change our lawmakers?

  163. Become active in your home district. Attend BOE meetings, review the budget, and make your opinions known.

  164. Unfortunately, I am once again ashamed by the country I love. We have allowed the States to run their own education systems so there are vast differences of quality. And make no mistake, we have a political party that has devalued and neglected education. They prefer an uneducated populace that is more easily manipulated. This has had and will continue to have tragic repercussions.

  165. The most important thing is to have good teachers. But with low pay and a crummy working environment, no wonder good people either leave for a different job or just aren't interested in the first place. In my experience teachers don't expect to et rich, but we can and should do much better than this.

  166. Another nuance to lack of funding for schools is the decline of traditional families. People marrying later, and or kids not " in their future" brings apathy towards funding for schools and someone else's children. I have to plead guilty to this way of thinking. Older and somewhat wiser with no off spring, might have fallen into the category of no taxes for schooling. Tax me for better roads and infrastructure. For years I had the same opinion of the military which I still do. But seeing the 10 fold amount spent on the military compared to crumbling schools, its criminal that funding is cut not increased.

  167. Never had kids and never intended to but I always voted for the school budget regardless of impact on my taxes. I benefited from a good school district and want everyone to have the same education available. The kids of today are the future of the country.

  168. Well, sorry, but this is no surprise. It is instead a tragedy. I graduated from high school in the early 1990s, and I used math books from the 1960s — which may, in retrospect, have been a good thing — and suffered through a massive budget crisis where the only thing that was funded well was metal detectors. We had one girls bathroom that was never in use during my years at the school. The tap water was orange. It is a shame that things have not improved. Just more money spent on computers. And testing, so much testing...

  169. "We are the richest country in the world," I keep on hearing. Well, here we are with dilapidated public schools, relying on the generosity and perseverance of woefully underpaid teachers. How unjust. How embarrassing! Why has it happened? Is it not the relentless concessions to business, or is it something else - an ideological hostility to everything public - schools and housing, but also the very concept of a public good. Hence the equation: public = government = bad. As a society we are paying a heavy price for the "triumph of the Free World."

  170. Our public school system is a disgrace and has been for decades. We do not value education in the same way that most other advanced nations do. We spend as little as possible on our public education infrastructure and pay most public school teachers insufficient wages for such an important yet thankless job. Our priorities are all wrong yet we wonder why so many kids struggle to get ahead.

    In fact, our K-12 school systems are simply another form of racial and economic profiling that continues to occur. Those that can afford - the upper and middle upper class - private schools know to send their kids there and keep them out of most public schools (especially in the inner cities). I should know since I spent my entire K-12 years in one of the best private schools in the Southeast.

  171. Over the past couple of months there has been much discussion about giving schools the resources to have [more] security guards on site and provide teachers the funds to carry guns and get trained to use them in an emergency. While I ma all for school safety, I personally see a greater need to give schools sufficient funds to ensure teachers have the resources necessary to teach, and students the access to the best available learning resources.

    The student of today need be able to become our leaders of tomorrow. Let’s make America great again - I vote for putting [new] books not guns in schools!

  172. Thank you for exposing how most states continuously underfunds education and what that looks like for students and teachers. But I’d love to see a graph that compared the ballooning of state pension payouts with diminished funding for education. Seems that states that wouldn’t give raises to teachers put that payday off into their state pensions. But then states reduced taxes so now they can no longer pay for both, with pension payments mandatory. When states put fiscal austerity over the future of the commons the young and the old compete against each other for scraps.

  173. Through my work I have been in urban public schools all over the US. These stories and photos underestimate the crumbling infrastructure, unhealthy, unsafe classrooms and dearth of learning tools. Even in Mass. with its high outcomes, the city of Lowell recently closed the high school for 4 days due to lack of heat.
    Almost 40 years of anti-tax mantra, 20 years of incessant "reforms" where millions are spent on private companies' standardized tests, the stress on the system has become too much for the system to bear.
    When the Boomer teachers retire, who will take these jobs and work in these conditions?
    How will our economy continue to grow unless we invest in the development of our children?
    When will public education rise to the top of our concerns as we discuss "national security"?

  174. Priorities of Republicans in DC are funding parades and walls while they ignore the needs of our children. You can bet money the schools where their kids go are not in this condition.

  175. Thank the "no tax" people for this situation.

  176. What do you expect? Nongovernmental employees aren't retiring before age 60, aren't getting raises that cover cost-of-living increase and health care increases, and they have huge premiums to pay out of pocket for their retiree medical until aging in to medicare. Why would they vote to tax themselves more to give their neighbors a very very generous annual raise, well above cola as they take a pay cut and look forward to working well into their 60s ? They want to eat in retirement also, even if they can't afford to use their medical until medicare eligible. The school tax cap is what is keeping them in the state and housed.

    **Obviously this comment is not applicable to those states where school staff are not compensated more than equivalently educated employees with similar responsibilities.

  177. Many years ago while living in a suburb of Newark, NJ I moved my kids from a private school in Mountainside to a public facility in South Orange/Maplewood. The Vail Deane School, since closed, had all the trappings of a racist institution. The South Orange/Maplewood district was a little better with a Black percentage of students at about twenty five. The number of black teachers in that District could be counted on two hands. That school system was among the top tier in New Jersey. Newark, a neighboring district, had significant challenges as did other towns in that State. His stated intentions to correct inequities in education had cost a recent Governor re-election. At that time (mid eighties) many of the States currently using archaic books and teaching were in the lowest levels of national achievement in public schools.
    Now resident in Florida, we utilized public school at the elementary level. Needing our son to have choices, we then chose a private institution with a record of academic excellence. So far, so good. Racism is ever present much as it is in healthcare, university, law enforcement and religion. Also evident is the scientific method and academic challenge.
    Under education and miseducation are tools of oppression that have long ceased to affect only the descendants of slaves. We were targetted with faulty scattershot in the hands of fools.

  178. This is truly sad. Thank you teachers for doing your best in such circumstances.
    How can people not understand that our future depends on our children and that we are jeopardizing that future by failing to invest in education.
    I wonder how many bright minds will never reach their full potential, never contribute all that they might because we failed to give them the education they deserve.
    "A mind is a terrible thing to waste."

  179. I find this, but not surprising given the value the American society places on education. Colleges have set the tone and parents have followed the dream for the sports scholarship; enrolling children in travel sports programs costing money that they dint really have to spare. Could you actually imagine if people funneled the money they spend in sports into extracurricular academic programs? (Laughable, I know).
    The problems are vast, but fixable. Boards of Education are a huge problem as non-educators are setting educational policies and funding decisions. In Goshen, instead of a computer lab and programs, we are building a sports stadium with locker rooms and training facilities (because this will help the students procure a college scholarship). Administrators do not surprise teachers with evaluations and do not weed out the weak teachers (hence the HS Spanish teacher that shows movies over 20% of the instructional time -including “sponge bob”) which infuriates the high quality teachers as it reduces the value of their profession. Schools are promoting children without reaching the proper benchmarks. Teachers are asked to inflate grades and accept homework 5 weeks late so that children don’t fail -it makes the school look better. Finally, the a large number parents have little or no involvement in their children’s education. We as a society do not value education and we have an obligation to our children to change that.

  180. This is ridiculous. Does the future matter or not? If so, we have to take education more seriously across the US.

  181. Face it, most Americans would rather pay less in taxes so they can buy junk at Walmart rather than craft a system that supports education, infrastructure and training. Oh, I forgot, Americans like shiny things like military weaponry too! Who really cares if the next generation can read, or write. Just as long as they can shop, that's all that matters.

  182. Where does the money go? The US, on average, spends more per K-12 pupil than most OECD countries, and all but 3 or 4 US states spend more than the OECD average (according to 2015 Census Bureau and 2014 OECD data).

    When people complain about the cost of health care, they cite the spending in the US versus Europe, suggesting that we pay more for less (or at best the same), and blame that on profit-seeking private enterprise. Our K-12 system is overwhelmingly state-run, but does not seem to deliver the efficiency that pro-single payer fans promote for health care.

    Are the teachers of today the doctors of tomorrow?

  183. We sure have $700B for defense to fight wars that we have no role to play.

  184. In Sprague, a small, rural, low-income town in Connecticut, our Board of Finance is demanding so many cuts from the Board of Education that our K-8 public school now has no library, no computer lab, no tech teacher, no sports, no foreign language.

    Imagine that: A school without a library in one of America's wealthiest (per capita) states.

    Here's a link to an op-ed on the issue.


  185. In other words, no school!

  186. Given this, it is worth spotlighting that Betsy DeVos is doing everything she can to allow parents to siphon off public education funds and use them to help pay for wealthier parents private school tuition. Less and less money is left to educate the poorer students and students with special needs, students private schools don't want.

  187. To update Upton Sinclair: "It is difficult to get a politician to adequately fund public schools, when his political existence depends upon keeping the electorate uneducated."

  188. This nation has been having this educational inequality discussion since before the Civil Rights Act. It is like a broken record. The haves in power apparently couldn't care less about the have nots on the receiving end. It is not as simple as paint or new books.

  189. Of the classrooms I used as a teacher (public high school English), the worst was a basement in a 1903 building. The dirt on the floor was intractable--resistant black blotches that changed with the seasons from a crust to a sticky glaze. There was an inexplicable kitchen in the back of this room where a tribe of roaches held dominion. The building engineer could poison enough of them to keep them at bay for a month at a time, but he had better things to do and, besides, since there was no ventilation in this basement, the roaches were probably a healthier option than the poison. The room was too hot in the summer, too cold in the winter, and always damp and smelly. But the worst problem was the disintegrating walls. The thick walls were made from a plaster-like cement and, every morning, I found a layer of damp plaster-dust around the parameter of the room. Once a week I swept the floor and noted, from the increasing depressions in the wall, how I was putting the walls of the class, a little at a time, into the trash. I put posters over the major depressions so the room would look less cave-like... It was a good school, though. Ninety-eight percent of the students went on to higher education. Most tested above average. The teachers were a tight-knit, enthusiastic group that never left. But that building--oh, my! You didn't want to send your kid there if he had asthma.

  190. The education system in this country needs an overhaul--as does our government. The process in which we "elect" politicians means that we really have no voice--they're all bought and paid for by donors. Until Citizens United is repealed, we as citizens will never have our voice heard, it's the big corporations and organizations who spends hundreds of millions of dollars (if not billions) to put politicians where they are. If this money, instead, was spent on schools, we'd all be better off.

    At the same time, I can't help but feel that for some of these states, they're reaping what they sow. 68% of West Virginians voted for Trump. 65% of Oklahoma voted for Trump. 61% of Tennessee voted for Trump. Blue states are also suffering from under-funded education systems so neither party can really boast that they support the education system but you know you're going to be worse off when you vote Republican with regards to public goods and services.

  191. I left teaching for exactly this reason - after a master's degree and 10 years of teaching experience, where I have found I can only really receive a living wage if I teach outside of the U.S. Teacher's can not survive off the wages they are receiving in most states in the U.S. and have to depend on a second and/or third source of income. Lack of resources at many schools are comparable to volunteer teaching I have done in Haiti. This is why I am now going back for a second advanced degree in business, where I am hoping the MASSIVE amount of debt I am accruing will allow me to actually have a living wage. This U.S. education saddens me to a great degree - other advanced economies like South Korea, Japan, and China treat education as an economic policy - where the money invested in education is actually a long-term planning srategy for propelling our economy forward. Among all the broken aspects of our government, education policy is a fundamental area that needs a revamp in order to fix our economic competitiveness in the long term.

  192. This is why I don't yet support free college for all. We need free high school first.

  193. It needs to be mentioned that many of the older schools contain asbestos. We were asked to sign a paper stating we would not sue in the future. This was in the state of Georgia.

  194. The United States says it wants its future workers to be competitive with the rest of the world. But if you look at teacher salaries a different picture emerges.

    Currently, the US ranks 12th among OCED countries. And that ranking is deceptive because the teachers that rank above us don't begin their careers $30-40,000 in debt.

    When you subtract the "out of pocket" expenses that teachers spend for their classes our ranking drops further.

    It's not as if we don't have enough money to provide every student from every community with a first-rate education. After all, we have an 18 trillion dollar a year economy.

    But we can't give repeated tax cuts to big corporations, wage wars all over the world and pay for our children's future. This report tells us what our elected officials really think about the value of education.