Tuesday, March 11, 2008

My Child Left Behind

Last week, I blogged about Enrichment. Here is an update.

I understand how the principal arrived at his decision to remove the music and gym teacher at our school. Do I like it?


Am I irritated?


What can I do?

I can write to the school board, my congressmen/women, my senators, and tell anyone I know. I can contact the media. I can advocate. I can let my voice be heard. I've been delaying a post about this in hopes that I might find more eloquent words which aren't bathed in anger. Sorry, it hasn't happened. Bear with me. The mama bear in me is raging, and won't be calmed just yet.

There is very little we can do to fix this for next year, though. My daughters will attend a school that has no art, gym, or music teachers in fall 2008. How sad is that? How incredibly disappointing is that?

School children are being cheated by programs like school choice, which takes public money and moves it into the private sector. Federal government promised money is drying up for education. No child left behind...my arse! We've somehow magically got money to pay for a war, but at what cost? Can't we help other countries and take care of ourselves too? Instead we mandate teaching to a test. What does that solve? That is not learning. That assumes we have incredibly dumb children in the US. Honestly, I really understand homeschooling now, and think those parents are incredibly brave and forward thinking.

Our school's budget was cut by $270,000 for next year. Thankfully, our school had some money in reserve so that makes the school short by $180,000 this year. That is still 2 full time teaching positions...at least that is what the school system charges our school for those positions. I'm quite certain our teachers don't make $90 thousand a year, though.

What will happen during next year's budget proceedings?

Lots of schools have it worse. I know that. Charlie's school has 98% of its student population below the Federal poverty line. His school has to spend money on safety attendants and feeding the children. I understand clearly that my daughters' school is blessed when compared to his, but why punish schools that are succeeding? I don't see the logic in making great schools mediocre. How does mediocrity help anyone succeed? How do classrooms of 35 children solve anything?

It is clear to me that there is lethargy toward funding education, but how is our society going to succeed if we don't pay for children's education? If we privatize education, where does that leave special education? Private schools do not have to adhere to regulations surrounding providing special education.

I was a special education student. I overcame my challenges. I'm a contributing member of society, and I know I'll find a way to provide enrichment programs for Grace and Meghan. Our family is blessed to have the money to afford it, but what do the parents at Charlie's school do? Really!

Education is crucial to having a society in the United States that will succeed. Otherwise, we may as well just start building prisons now because they'll be full-up soon.

Yours in frustration,
The Mama Bear


Lauren said...

I'm sure Charlie chimed in on this already- but the $90,000 budgeted for each teacher covers all of their benefits also. Our cadillac insurance is great, but it comes at a pricey cost for the district.

I absolutely agree with everything you've said. Finally, someone has put into words everything I despise about public education, especially working within special education.

Recently, there was a big to-do about a $1 million dollar contribution to the school choice program for Milwaukee. I couldn't even believe it at first!

Jen said...

Jen, you said it beautifully and accurately---even in your Mama Bear persona. I'd love to think that politicians/bureaucrats who make these funding decisions could someday see it your way. As a music teacher AND a parent of a student in special-ed, I feel your pain and share your heartache over what the future holds for our kids and our country. (((((hugs)))))

Kristen said...

I feel your frustration and you know we are going through it with Chloe and her G&T. Now do you see why I may be willing to make DEBT my middle name for a private school??? ARGH!

Gracie and Meggie need Music! This just sucks!