Friday, March 6, 2009

Funding Education

There has been so much in the news recently. Financial institutions, companies and stores that I have known all my life seem to be closing and crumbling at an alarming rate. I see families all over our school who are stressed as a member loses a job or work hours are cut back. Families in all walks of life are worried about how the "doom and gloom" of the economy might trickle down to their own lives. Forced retirements, increased medical expenses, mortgages, lack of credit are all common topics of conversation. I can't but help and wonder how all of this will effect education.

Our own county expects a $150 million deficit for next year. The fluff was the first to go, but there is not enough "excess" left to cover that kind of cut. Guidance (at a time when we may need it the most), Media, Art, Music and PE may be cut! My own husband, a PE teacher, just took and passed the Elementary Education test in preparation for a round of anticipated PE cuts. I can't even imagine schools without music and art and a media specialist to help us navigate the information highway- a school without health and sports... Essential supplies and materials could disappear altogether! We have always joked about having to bring our own toilet paper to school, but maybe it's not a joke after all!

While this crisis is world wide, it seems to hit Florida education especially hard because our state has not always funded education as a top priority. The Lottery, with its promise of education plenty, has merely supplanted funds. It was obvious recently just how short sighted our legislators are with the proposed cuts in National Board supplements (some of which the Governor recently vetoed to restore). Our legislators don't seem to understand the research that supports the strength of candidates who have been Nationally Board certified. They don't seem to get the depth that is needed to actually teach a child to read. We have endured years of underfunding in our state and now we are paying the price. Recently our Superintendent explained that Florida is ranked 50th in the nation for funds allocated and spent on education! 50th! How is it possible that we could have allowed that to happen?!

It is time for us, as educators, to lead the way and use our collective voice to demand that our legislators listen. In all of the rhetoric that we hear among the law makers, we cannot allow our voices to be minimized or silenced. We must advocate for the children in our care. It is our moral and ethical responsibility to the next generation. Whatever we do, it will be our legacy to the future. We cannot just stand here and accept what happens. We must make the public understand that education matters and that in a state where money is already at the bottom of the barrel for education, there simply is no more room for cuts. If it really matters to you, how will you make sure your voice is heard?

1 comment:

Mrs.Mallon & Mrs. Dillard said...

Unfortunately money has been worshiped in our country in lieu of education. Unfunded mandates pushed through, talk about education (talking the talk but not walking the walk)...people are too busy to find out what is going on in their county/country "somebody else will take care of it." Well, now it's time to pay for our eyes being wide shut. We've been asleep - thinking our leaders will take care of everything. But, guess what, now that it's hitting home, everyone is waking up. Two years ago, Amendment One, increased the homestead tax deduction - from $25,000 to 50,000 - where did people think the money was going to be cut to get the deduction? I guess that could be one reason why we're 50th. MM