Friday, February 18, 2011

The Education Funding Crisis - We Need to Get This Right!

I normally don't write such opinionated posts like this, so I apologize in advance if it offends anyone, but as a parent, I'm just losing patience.  Let's just fix this!
We were blind sighted by my son’s teacher. I walked out of the parent teacher conference feeling confident he was on track and that there wouldn’t be any surprises on his report card. I COULDN’T HAVE BEEN MORE WRONG.  Report cards came home and much to my shock he had received multiple unsatisfactory (or F’s for our generation) grades.

What I am still reeling about is why we were not alerted to the degree of concern I should have had. Don’t get me wrong, I know these are areas my son needs to work on (I’m not a delusional mom). I love my son to pieces, but I also understand where his strengths (of which he has a TON) and weaknesses (thankfully, there are only a few) are.  What I don’t understand is how he went from a satisfactory student (in these particular) areas to unsatisfactory, which completely skips over the “area of concern” category (what would have been known as a D to those of us from earlier generations). No red flags were even remotely raised at the parent teacher conference. Not one.  Both my husband and I are full time working parents so we don’t have time for beating around the bush. Tell me what my son needs to work on well before this point and we’ll get it done. I’d like to point out that he got an outstanding (aka an A) for homework - so we’re doing our part at home. 

I’m really starting to worry that many teachers just don’t have time or passion to do their part at school anymore.

With school budgets being slashed, the supply lists for kids to bring to school is getting ridiculous. As a kid I never remember being responsible for bringing anything more than binders, notebooks and things I would need personally for the year. Now we are responsible for Clorox Wipes, Tissues, White Board Markers, Ziploc bags and more, the list goes on…

My son is in a portable classroom on school grounds with a shocking 32 kids in his class (he is in second grade!). The school he attends is one of the newest schools in what is supposed to be a very affluent district in California, but somehow the school is already 30% overcrowded. The drama our school district is currently enduring has made us the laughing stock of the entire state. Yes, it really is that bad. Don’t get me started on how hard the shortened school days and furlough days are on full time working parents. It’s a logistical nightmare, but we figure it out, we aren’t given a choice.  We do what it takes for the sake of our kids.  

I used to be a HUGE advocate of public schools, but I’m so sad to admit, that is fading… FAST and I’m not alone, it has been discussed recently how as a country, we are putting education on the back burner and as a result we are suffering as a country. This is only going to get worse.

Unions have a place in society, but in an economy like this, we can’t allow unions to shelter sub-par teachers who don’t have the bandwidth to keep up the evolving needs of today’s classrooms. I’m horrified at the number of teachers in the public school system that have jobs simply because of tenure, and not because they are amazingly talented. The public school system needs to learn to become a lean mean teaching machine. Mediocrity can’t be tolerated. Amazingly talented teachers should have no concerns about dissolving union powers, because they will be the sought after ones. It broke my heart the last few years to see some of the best teachers I have ever witnessed be laid off simply because they had been in their current school district for less time than their co-workers. The very teachers that inspired my children to be passionate about school and learning have now been forced to find other jobs where there really aren’t any.  An amazing teacher can make the difference in countless kids lives.  We need to reward those teachers.

What I don’t understand is why politicians can continue to cut money from schools and expect that the society will continue to produce educated workers and overall good citizens. Okay, so this has been slipping for some time (arguably that is part of why the prisons are so full), but as a mom now, I can’t help but be horrified at how much education has deteriorated since I was in school less than two decades ago.   It's not just about the budget cuts, it is really about the desperate need for a complete overhaul of the school system.

I say re-open Alcatraz. We must have a few more vacant islands off the coast of California that we can put to good use. Start taking away more of the comforts of the prisons before you take more away from our kids. Don’t tell me about how a multiple offense prisoner can’t have more costly luxuries taken away from him.  If you stuffed thirty-two prisoners in to the area of a small classroom portable like my kids are in seven hours every day, we might save some serious money.

Do more with less. That has been the motto for many corporations over the last couple of years in this economy. I challenge the public school system to do the same. Be ready to deal with budget cuts, but figure out how to teach our children in a more cost effective manner.  Wisconsin, if you have to get creative to get this done, then do it.  Other states will follow, hopefully this includes California.

Figure out a way to do more with less – the rest of us certainly have.


Jenny,  February 18, 2011 at 1:50 PM  

Well said. I'm forwarding to all my mommy friends. Thank you for saying what too few are.

robin February 18, 2011 at 7:54 PM  

I really worry about this generation of kids. Reform will come- it's unthinkable that it wouldn't- but I don't know if it will come in time for our own kids. I hope more parents are willing to step up & try to bring about change ASAP.

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