As a child, I went though public schools. Some people may not want to admit that, but I am proud to say that I went from kindergarten to a senior in high school in the same school district. Like most schools at the time, things were rough in the middle school level, but if you kept your nose clean it was easy to get a good education. I had opportunities in the high school that no other schools in the area, state or country were doing at the time. I learned so many amazing things during my time as a student in the public schools. I also had teachers that inspired me in my teaching career and beyond.
Today, I find myself sitting here scratching my head after recent events.
Last week, I went to a meeting at our school where they revealed drafts of the new budget. I sat at the meeting feeling more and more disgusted by the minute. I shook my head, worried about the future of the schools for my son and his peers. Right now, NHL’s school may be on the chopping block.
That is a very good question. Something that I do not understand given the progress this school has made. It has steadily increased enrollement and done extremely well on state exams. The sad reality is this does not seem to matter in the district. They are willing to close one of the top performing schools because of the size.
Of course, the bigger issue is the cause of the budget issues. Like so many other school districts in New York state and beyond, budgets are being slashed. Thanks to sloppy work in the New York state government, the wrong amount of federal stimulus money was sent to districts thoughout the state last year. They were sent the money that should have been split over 2-3 years and they were JUST notified about this a few weeks ago. Don’t even get me started on how the individuals that screwed this up causing districts across the state to be short millions of dollars are still in their job. This is something I hope to continue to investigate.
The largest issue are the charter schools in our area that are sucking the tax money and literally killing off our public schools. What many people do not know is that charter schools are run by businesses, NOT educators. Where this may seem like a fabulous idea, it typically fails in the end. Tests are not developmentally appropriate for students, teachers are not licensed, business people run the school and make promises that can never be delivered. Worst yet – they correct their own state exams which are not audited (so DUH they do wonderfully). Having applied for a charter school teaching job I was floored with the line of questioning I received that had nothing to do with educating children. That is a topic for another day – we are talking major anger and pet peeve here.
For now though, my attention is on helping to save my school district and most importantly my son’s school. Here are some of the items on the chopping block with the first Tier of reductions even with another HIGH tax hike to all of us within the area:
- Over 100 employees will be losing their jobs. This includes administrators, teachers, non-instructional staff, and substitute hall monitors. Note that last year over 100 also lost their job.
- Discontinue Reading Recovery
- Stop specials for PreK students (classroom teachers will be responsible for teaching art, music and I believe PE along with library)
- Cuts in professional development and substitutes for this purpose (As a teacher, I do not know how this works when teachers are required by the state to have a certain number of continuing education credits)
- Nurse teachers will be replaced by RNs. At the meeting, the district speaker tried to say that they are not in the classroom. I beg to differ. The nurse teacher at my son’s school is an amazing woman that teaches health education, nutrition, distributes healthy snacks to the kids and is a fabulous resource for the kids when they need another trusted person to talk with.
Tier 2 of reducations get even more frightening and includes some of these items:
- Close 2 elementary schools
- Reduce sports programing by 50%
- Cut Special Education Teacher Assistants
- Close down K-7 Summer School
- Get rid of Literacy and math coaches
For the record – even if everything in Tier 1 is nixed, there will not be enough money generated to stop Tier 2 from going forward. The reality is that both are likely needed to just get the district out of the deficit and keep things at a status quo. Today, people received notices that they will likely not have a job next year. The reality is harsh and as a parent I fear for our children. Public schools are a dying breed and it makes me horribly sad.
So I am now on a mission. I need to write letters, let my voice be heard and find a way to save not only our school, but our district that is in a horrible mess thanks to the economy and our bankrupt state.
My question to you. Where should I start? Who should I write to outside of the school district to let them know how they are failing the future of our state with their incompetent spending and constant cuts to education? Where do I send a letter to let them know the truth about Charter Schools and how they are slowly making public schools in our area dinosaurs that will not be seen?