Superintendent Jon Fernandez tells education board members Thursday night that public schools are still waiting for the release of $16 million in allotments from the Department of Administration.
When senators passed the government of Guam’s budget for fiscal 2018, the theme was pretty much status quo – keep funding levels for agencies where they were the previous fiscal year. The problem with this is the status quo funding for some agencies, namely the Guam Department of Education, is far from what it needs to be.
One of the biggest shortfalls for the education agency is funding for textbooks. The school system has routinely asked for about $10 million a year to buy new books for students. Elected officials respond with a fraction of the request. For fiscal 2018, the education agency is getting $1.5 million for books, the same amount it received in fiscal 2017.
Schools don’t have enough textbooks to ensure each student gets a copy. Instead, schoolchildren must share classroom sets. Students can’t take a textbook home to study, to better ensure they learn the material and are prepared to move on.
That has been the status quo – the existing state of affairs — at public schools for far too long. The status quo at public schools also is extremely poor performance on standardized tests when compared to students across the nation. Worse, the status quo is the majority of graduates from public high schools lack mastery in core subjects, notably English and math.
We can’t expect to turn this situation around if we stick to status quo funding for public schools. We can’t expect to improve student performance and the quality of education if we maintain the existing state of affairs in our public schools.
Public schools need adequate textbooks and other essential classroom materials if they are to adequately educate students. If elected officials truly want to break the status quo of inadequate public education, they need to break the status quo funding.
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