Governor Bill Haslam has issued his amendment to the 2011-12 budget. Sadly, the proposed budget cuts to TSLA that I’ve discussed on several occasions remain intact. The mantra from Secretary Tre Hargett’s office has remained consistent. As Speaker Beth Harwell wrote in an e-mail response to my concerns, “I have spoken with Secretary Hargett’s office, and have been reassured the State Library and Archives will continue their record of excellent and personalized services to clients. To this end, they will continue to be open on Saturday, which is convenient for most users. Because staff is being reduced, they are forced to eliminate Mondays and shortening the hours during other weekdays.” Other state officials I’ve contacted have repeated similar arguments.
I realize that fiscal responsibility is crucial for our state and nation. It’s hard to believe, though, that the state of Tennessee cannot find $331,800 in its $30.2 billion budget to keep TSLA services and staff at their current levels.
On a related note, Congress has targeted the $118.9 million in Teaching American History (TAH) grants as part of the effort to reduce government expenditures. Part of the reasoning is based on the “OMB’s 2004 PART evaluation found no demonstrated results from the program and determined it was duplicative of the ESEA Title II (Teacher Quality State Grants) program,” according to the proposed budget. Not surprisingly, the OAH and other history organizations have come out in opposition to these proposed cuts.
I’ve evaluated TAH grants for four years, and I’ve led one TAH workshop. I feel comfortable saying that the process is structured in such a way that only the most deserving applicants receive funding. Again, the requested expenditures for TAH grants are just a drop in the bucket compared to the federal budget. If the United States public is committed to quality public education, then programs such as the TAH should be funded.
Or, we could just go this route and be done with it: