As a researcher and grant writer for the Park City School District of Utah, Ken Bonacki is concerned about education funding going in 2020. Thankfully, there are ways to face the funding challenge in education. But first, people must become aware of how difficult it is for educators.
The State of Teacher Compensation
Teaching in America now appears to have reached a tipping point. Low wages have driven some teachers out of the profession entirely, and fewer people want to become educators — heightening a teacher shortage crisis as class sizes grow larger and educators take on extra roles. Educators who spoke with MONEY believe they are undervalued, underpaid and underappreciated. They cited countless stories of peers who denigrated their careers and friends who misunderstood all that it takes to be a teacher.
The report went on to explain how teachers on average make 18% less than their non-teacher counterparts with the same education and qualifications.
This is astounding, considering that teachers must perform some of the most difficult tasks under the most demanding conditions. Few individuals dare challenge the reality that United States educators are by-and-large underpaid, but most still push forward compelled by the high stakes of their profession.
Why Underpaid Teachers Still Pay for Materials Out of Pocket
This year, Business Insider pulled back the curtain a bit more. Teachers realize that their efforts only go so far without the proper supplies. Since there doesn’t appear to be money anywhere else, they dip into their own low salaries. Unfortunately, almost 95% of public-school teachers have reported that they have to pay approximately $500 out of pocket to supply school supplies for their students.
A combination of decreased funding and a passion for their students leave many teachers feeling as though they have little choice but to spend their own money. This is especially true of lower income school districts, where teachers feel strongly that their impoverished students deserve a quality education experience. The determination to keep the classroom well-equipped have led creative educators to start GoFundMe pages in an effort to raise money for school supplies and teaching materials.
The Quest to Increase Funding for Educators
It is not just the teachers that work tirelessly to advocate for more education funding. Kent Bonacki partners with many school district leaders and afterschool nonprofit organizations to increase funding and streamline budgets to ensure that the students have the ability to prosper.
School District Budgeting
While the federal government does distribute some funds to schools, the primary source of education funding comes from state and city government budgets. State and local government funding distributes according to a formula, and many disagree with the inefficiency of these formulas.
When states cut funding for education, school districts must respond in kind. Therefore, the classic process for school district funding is finding creative ways to make lean budgets go farther. At the end of the day, something in the budget has to go or get by with little to no money at all.
Most schools attempt to ease the burden with fundraising efforts. Having had to find ways to raise extra money year-after-year, educators are becoming fundraising pros with the help of their students.
School districts and teachers have the opportunity to gather extra funding through government, private, and scholarship grants. There are literally thousands of grants available for any and every kind of educational scenario.
But there is a catch. To receive grants, someone has to gather the research and financials into a formal proposal. Kent Bonacki states that for the proposal to be successful it must thoroughly explain why the educator feels that they deserve the funds, and how those funds will be put to good use.
Those without the experience of grant writing may find it difficult to produce enough proposals to make the effort worthwhile. However, working with experienced professionals, such as Kent Bonacki, helps the process move forward smoothly.
It is important to first select the right available grants. Many organizations only dispense funding to very specific educators or schools. They may fund only schools matching certain demographics or specific educational efforts.
Finally, those extending grants will have specific questions that the grant proposal must answer. The proposal should be customized to the grant offered. Most importantly, the proposal must demonstrate the tangible positive effects that receiving the grant funding will produce.
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