Videos Show Plight of Underfunded Schools

Large class sizes, outdated textbooks, and vanishing art, music and P.E. programs are typical problems in cash-stapped Colorado schools. A series of short, comical videos highlights the school-funding shortfall and urges action toward a solution.In the old days, parents raised money for schools to pay for fun extras like a trip to an out-of-town competition for the choir. Nowadays, at many schools, parents are on the hook for money if the school wants to have a choir at all. 

Great Education Colorado, a nonprofit that lobbies for increased investment in education, has made a series of short videos highlighting the funding shortfall in Colorado schools. The latest installment featuring Granny and her grandson focuses on the lengths parents must go to in order to fund the basics – like a science teacher – in their children’s schools.

Just like Granny in the video, “I suspect there are a lot of parents and grandparents out there with 75 rolls of wrapping paper and their freezers stuffed with butter braids,” said Lisa Weil, policy director at Great Education Colorado.

Colorado spends $1,034 less per pupil than the national average, according to the 2007 Education Week Quality Counts. The state ranks 38th in student-teacher ratios and 43rd in the percentage of taxable income spent on K-12 education.

The inadequate funding of schools across the state forces parents and teachers to scrape together money every year just to keep cuts out of the classroom, Weil says. Often, part of the fundraising responsibility falls on the students, who are asked to sell fruit, candy, bread, wrapping paper and magazines to help keep their school going.

“There has been concern in a lot of districts that we don’t want to turn kids into door-to-door salesmen,” Weil said. “With good reason – there are safety issues and it’s not necessarily the way we want our kids spending their time.”

With the comical videos, Weil hopes to amass support for her organization’s efforts to force lawmakers to address the funding crisis in many of the state’s schools. To sign a Great Education Colorado petition, click here.

To see the first Granny video that pokes fun at large class sizes, click here.

To see the second Granny video that highlights antiquated, obsolete textbooks still used in the classroom, click here.

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Kate Bernuth

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