When anyone suggests changing how schools function, the fear that rises from school boards, administration, as well as the general public in any community that has a school is, simply stated, “What is this going to cost?” My goal in writing Education Humanely Applied is to make change in how schools can use time more effectively and how we can stop punishing students and teachers. Both of these areas involve change—significant change. However, when these changes occur in schools, the school districts experience financial benefits, not losses.
Full Time Equivalency—or FTE—is a term that is used in determining how much funding per year the state provides a school district for each full time attending student. The amount varies from state to state and from district to district within a state, generally averaging about $8,000.00 to $15,000.00 per student. Smaller schools receive less money than larger schools for obvious reasons. More staff is needed when more students are present, more classrooms are needed for more students, and so on. A small school with 200 students may receive $1,600,000.00 state dollars to operate. A large school with 1,500 students may receive $12,000,000.00. Schools depend on levies for additional funds.
When students are suspended regularly, they get behind due to missing instruction. They also may get discouraged and not want to come back to school. FTE is reduced when students do not come back the following year—only full time students get counted for a full FTE amount of funding. Many who do not get back into schools may become unemployed, homeless, riders on the pipeline to prison—all costs to society and a loss to the individual students’ chances for successful lives.
In the USA in 2021, over 101,000 students were expelled from public schools. Many expelled students are not allowed to return to school at all—some may return the following semester or school year, or they may try to enroll in another school. Many students do not return to any school. A high school district with 1,000 students may receive $10,000 FTE per student equalling $10,000,000.00. If 10%, or 100 of the students do not return due to excessive suspensions and/or expulsions, the district potentially loses $1,000,000.00. But what if the school stopped using isolation punishments? What if they use humane approaches to helping students with behavior problems and develop ways to continue their education? Humane methods bring financial support to schools. Harsh, isolating punishments reduce funding.
Teachers are leaving the profession for various reasons. Give a high school teacher 7 teaching periods per day with 35 students per class-a total of 245 students per day, lessons to plan, teach daily and submit weekly, tests to prepare and grade, and the most important role: get to know every student—teach every student every day. All that may help people see why many teachers are leaving the profession. The job requirements do not respect the teachers—giving them so much to do within an unreasonable time frame.
Due to a lack of teachers available to substitute when teachers are absent, substitutes in Spokane, Washington get paid $200.00 for a full day. That is an increase of 25% in one year due to the shortage of substitute teachers. Keeping teachers saves funding. Respecting teachers keeps them willing to continue teaching. Giving them a time frame that preserves their sanity and professional needs is presently working in many schools. A significant number of teachers will continue teaching if the positions do not drive them away. Keeping a consistent teaching staff saves a great deal of funding. More schools need to get involved in humanely applied education. Yes, it is working. Sharing the success lifts both students and teachers.