At a town hall event, teachers were honest about how budget cuts make it harder to close the achievement gap.
Put 350 Los Angeles teachers in one room and the conversation is guaranteed to get heated. It certainly did at Sunday's taping of Education Nation, the four-part NBC news special focused on figuring out how to improve schools in America. Veteran NBC reporter Raheema Ellis moderated, and although she did her best to steer three sets of panelists and the audience toward hot-button ed reform issues—teacher tenure, using test scores to evaluate educators, training students for the jobs of the future, and closing the achievement gap—it was clear that the crowd was fired up about the implications of making long-term policy decisions about those issues at a time when education budgets are being gutted.
Ellis set the tone by sharing dismal statistics about how California has defunded education—$20 billion slashed from schools and 30,000 educators laid off over the past three years. Ninety-six percent of the teachers in the audience said more cuts will have have a "huge" impact on their ability to succeed with their students and will keep America from being globally competitive.