As many people know, education is an impactful moment in the earliest years of a growing child. It creates the first few building blocks a child needs in order to become a better version of themselves mentally and physically. However, that education's worth and value determines how well the child will do as they grow to become an adult. How much does ones’ education matter when it doesn’t have the correct amount of stability in funding?
In the southern region of the United States, poverty is an enormous problem in itself. However, because of the drastic economic difference between rich and poor in the south, many opportunities, like education, are lost in the needs and necessities for the southern states. In 2008 a research study presented that 17 percent of families with children under the age of 18 are in a household that live in rural areas. Compared to the Northeast, only 13 percent are on, or under, the line of poverty. In the midwestern areas, it is 14 percent.
So as a reader, it may be questioned as to why poverty has anything to do with education and the scientific field. Because of the South’s high levels of poverty and rural areas, the money that is held is given out to things that are thought of as more important. Families are known to have a lack of plumbing, fundamental health care, and electricity. Not only are the resources needed a factor, many of these public institutions are becoming more and more dependent on their community. Because of this, if their community is more unstable, then the school itself will represent the community's poverty.
Another crucial effect is teachers. Noticeably as a society the need for teachers has risen dramatically. Many teachers have quit because of the lack in their salary. The reason they quit all has to do with their income, and with many teachers in the south, their income is almost the same as a custodian. In Alabama, a research study shows that teachers make around $49,781 as a yearly income. However, compared to the cost of living, which is $57,550, there is a significant issue. Another issue is if the teacher is a private school teacher. Private school teachers are paid around the same but they are not given insurance or retirement funding.
So with the lack of funding and teachers, there is a significant decrease in the education system overall. But the teachers who are able to strive in their jobs, also suffer from the lack of funding. Not only salary wise, but also teaching wise. Many teachers do not have the resources they need to teach students about certain topics, for example, science. STEM was known to come about into schools in 2003 when there was a lack of math and science test grades. These grades showed results which concluded that children who were lacking in STEM would lack in the global economy. Between 2010 and 2016, data was shown that STEM jobs had increased by 46%. Sadly enough, though, 2.4 Million jobs in the STEM fields were left unfilled in 2018.
To get a better understanding of what teachers were exactly going through and how they were struggling with STEM teaching, I did a small research survey on about eight teachers. All of them are anonymous with their responses. I asked questions like “Do you feel like the decrease in funding for STEM education has caused blockades for students and their futures?” and “Do you think as a teacher more funding would increase scores seen on tests, exams, essays, quizzes, and labs?” as well as “Do you believe with funding you could be able to teach things you would’ve never been able to do?”.
One teacher responded to the question “Do you believe with funding you could be able to teach things you would’ve never been able to do?” with : “In order for students to understand what they have to do, more funding would definitely help with supplies that are required for students to experience STEM.”
Another teacher responded to the question “If you were able to be funded more, where would that funding go for STEM and science classes (ex : more science equipments, better science books, stronger activities)” with : “Student materials either consumable or non consumable, large community projects, outdoor observation spaces, specialized telescopes or planetarium for older elementary students, other specialized professional tools, updated robots and tablets for each classroom, digital textbooks or resources that are user friendly for elementary students.”
Finally, a dif erent teacher responded to the question “Do you think as a teacher more funding would increase scores seen on tests, exams, essays, quizzes, and labs?” with : “Interesting question. From my graduate school experience and in conversations with other science teachers I think it increases test and quiz scores in class. In my own experience, I create my quizzes and tests straight from looking at the state standards. However, I’m not sure if it helps increase scores for state testing. The format of a state test is not compatible with the format of STEM lessons/units.”
In conclusion, there are many factors that combine into the need of funding for science. Whether that be funding for the states, funding for the communities, or funding for the teachers themselves. What is known, though, is there needs to be more strive and commitment to reaching out and giving resources out to whoever and whatever to help kids grow and become a better version of themselves and let them strive in activities they never knew existed.