Illinois has cut its education budget by a whole two percent and, of course, the sky is falling.

State education officials Tuesday slashed millions of dollars from dozens of initiatives -- ranging from preschool to after-school to gifted programs -- and warned of a "catastrophic'' year ahead, when $2 billion in federal stimulus dollars will dry up.

Acting in emergency session, State Board of Education members faced with shrunken state revenues approved a $7.26 billion budget for this coming school year, down $146 million, or 2 percent, from fiscal year 2009.

You'd think it would be easy to absorb a 2% decrease in spending by simply reducing spending across the board. But no! Thanks to unions the cuts will exclusively affect students and their education rather than teachers or administrators.

Taking the biggest hit was early childhood education, which lost $123 million. The action "rolls back about five years of progress'' and means an estimated 30,000 children will lose preschool services this fall, said Sean Noble of Voices for Illinois Children.

All state money for gifted education was "zeroed out,'' along with dollars for two after-school programs -- one of them started by the wife of Mayor Daley.

Efforts to help the blind and dyslexic, teacher recruitment in hard-to-staff schools, high school students taking Advanced Placement classes and teachers who earn rigorous national certification all took whacks.

Well, ok, I'm not sure what kind of "whacks" are in store for teachers with "rigorous national certification".

But look: the total cut is $146 million, $123 million of which was going towards public preschools. That means the remaining $23 million was sufficient to fully fund gifted education, various after-school programs, blind and dyslexic education, teacher recruitment, Advanced Placement classes, and so forth. Something doesn't add up.

First off, if all those programs can be funded for a mere $23 million, where the heck is the other $7.26 billion in the education budget being spent?

Second, why aren't leftists pushing for student to unionize? Students are being oppressed by their organized teachers and their demands for ever-increasing, never-decreasing salaries, pensions, and benefits. When times are good, teachers' unions lock in exorbitant contracts that cannot be revisited when times are lean. Students, on the other hand, have no "contract" to prevent their education from being eviscerated for the benefit of their teachers. It's For The Children! (IFTC!)

IFTC is conveniently used to argue for more teachers, higher pay for teachers, more benefits for teachers, more "certifications" for teachers, and all manner of spending that benefits teachers and their union bosses. But God forbid that IFTC ever be deployed to argue that teachers should take a hit when the economy gets bad. Oh no! Teachers are altruistic saints! Why do you hate children?

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