Funny Videos Tackle Serious School Funding Issues

    The second in a series of one-minute videos that highlight school funding shortfalls in Colorado features Granny, her grandson and the U.S.S.R.What does it mean to public school students that Colorado spends $1,000 less per pupil than the national average?

    According to Great Education Colorado, a nonprofit that strives to demonstrate the need for better school funding in the state, it means students can’t take textbooks home because five classes must share one set of books. It means a child who goes to the same school as her father 25 years later finds his name in the front of her social studies book. It means parents and teachers must spend their own money photocopying workbooks that must be shared and recycled year after year.

    “Districts do their best to keep the cuts out of the classroom, but often they have to decide, ‘Do we help our teachers gain new skills or do we get new textbooks?'” said Lisa Weil, policy director for Great Education Colorado. “I don’t think those are choices we want our districts to have to make.”

    Weil’s organization has produced a series of short videos to highlight the school funding shortfalls in the state, all of which star a clueless, caricature-like granny who learns about the issues through her grandson and a deep voice from above. The first video focused on large class size; the second one tackles outdated and inadequate textbooks.

    Colorado spends $1,034 less per pupil than the national average, and the state’s public schools earn an overall grade of C-. That’s according to the 2008 Education Week Quality Counts, which ranks public schools based on taxable resources spent on education, per pupil spending, teacher salary and student-to-teacher ratios.

    The shortage of textbooks in Colorado’s public schools “is so common people have gotten used to the limitations,” Weil said. “But at some point you look up and ask, ‘How did we get here – that the only way we can have a music teacher or a P.E. program is if the parents raise the money and pay for it themselves?'”

    Weil hopes the Granny videos will circulate widely on the Internet and prompt people to sign a petition urging state lawmakers to aggressively tackle funding shortfalls in schools across the state. To sign the petition, click here.