Tonight I am vacillating between two quotes from Ben Franklin, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” and “We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.”
After much work to identify root causes of mismanagement and to bring this information, as well as corrective and preventative actions, to the voters, the school was resoundingly rebuffed. My heart goes out to those that have inherited this situation and are now trying to clean up the mess.
The next step will be to revise the budget downward. This will result in RIFing teachers, reducing classes and programs available to students, and paving the way for additional deficits when we can’t live within this budget either. Unfunded mandates, lower overall incomes, and untenable standards for proficiency sets schools up to fail. Yet, here’s to NCLB, RTTT, sequestration, and the continued disparaging of the teaching profession.
My hope, no my goal is to place the consequences of these decisions squarely on the shoulders of those that have made them. The federal and state governments need to hear from voters and parents on the impact of unfunded mandates on schools, and how regular education programs are disproportionally impacted. Voters need to hear from the school boards on how their votes and the budgets they approve are balancing. And when they are not, the voters need to take responsibility for their vote. This assumes that the schools are working in good faith and are accurately reporting their financials. Administration and teachers need to continually do their due diligence to assure that programs are run efficiently and that clear measures of success can be provided to the voters; schools need not only their votes but their trust. Parents need to take responsibility to support their children’s education. At our school 69% of kids entering kindergarten, that have not had Pre-K EDUCATION, do not know their numbers or letters – yet, they are expected to have fundamental math and reading skills by 1st grade. These kids are already behind. Teachers are not babysitters and they are not responsible to teach our children to be respectful, how to walk down a hall, how to focus, or how to behave. Our kids are in school 6.5-7 hours a day, five days a week. Schools are not parents.
If it is a choice between paying the school taxes and losing your home, this is a Sophie’s Choice and one that should not happen. However, if we continually ask schools to do more with less and then mandate unfunded supports for those students that need them, Public Education will fail without the support of their communities.
So, I am still stuck with my friend Ben’s words. I guess I will continue to invest in knowledge as it is the only sure bet for our future.