The expectations placed on GDOE, GCC, UOG and charter schools come with a price tag of $411.97 million. Yet, the budget proposal for FY2020 is at $287.28 million for all education establishments. GDOE’s request alone was for $343 million. So where does Guam rank in comparison to other states in per pupil spending? Near. The. Bottom.
The strikes that have taken place throughout the United States highlighted the need to increase per pupil spending, improve classroom resources, and increase teacher pay to retain and recruit certified teachers. Based on the findings of the National Educators Association (NEA, 2018), the average per pupil spending in the United States is estimated at $11,934. The charter schools want to increase their per pupil spending to $6,500, slightly more than half of the national average but still dismal. The numbers for GDOE, after deducting $11 million for charter schools leaves $217.9 million that was budgeted, noting that GDOE does not always see its full budget since some funds are always reserved. This comes out to $7,336 per pupil. By the numbers, Indiana ($6,673), Idaho ($6,849), and Utah ($7,058) rank slightly below Guam; however, they all have a lower cost of living. Meaning, the purchasing power for GDOE and a classroom teacher is less on Guam than in Indiana, Idaho, and Utah.
Fewer teachers are joining the profession according to the Economic Policy Institute (2019). Those that join, do no stay, especially on Guam. The Legislature must not continue to underfund schools and underpay teachers. One senator questioned why GDOE costs more than charter schools. A simple response is that they do not pay their teachers and vendors fairly, nor timely. As GFT President, I ask, “Why do we compare our budget to the bottom, not the top? We want our students to soar, not dig themselves lower.” In case you were wondering, the $343 million that was requested by GDOE is still below national average.
National Education Association (2018). Rankings of the states 2017 & estimates of school statistics 2018. Retrieved from http://www.nea.org/home/73145.htm