April 05, 2006

A Secure Future

The Browns Elementary School Board met last night; on hand were dozens of parents, as well as every teacher on staff. It was quite a turnout, considering the only school in the district, Browns Elementary, has approximately 150 students in grades K-8.

The large turnout was the result of what happened at last month's board meeting. The board voted to eliminate two teaching positions, putting many of the kids into combination classes. The board said it had to take this measure to save money. One of the teachers who received notice was my son's 3rd grade teacher.

With all the people who had an opinion to share, last night's meeting lasted almost four hours. When the board went into closed session, everyone else gathered around the deli trays that one of the teacher's spouses had brought in. No one was leaving. Everyone wanted to wait to find out if the board would agree to at least keep one of the teaching positions it had said it would eliminate.

When the board came out of closed session, it announced that it would take a month to think things over, and make a decision at next month's meeting.

You have to understand, that in a community like ours, the members of the board are more than just faces behind the desk. My son's best friend's dad is on the board; he and I lead cub scouts together. Another is the parent of a young woman who used to babysit for our family. A third is the secretary at the high school who calls me when they need a substitute teacher. These are our friends, members of our community.

The problem, of course, is money; or rather, the lack thereof. And it's a problem common to all school districts, not just Browns.

In 2006, the military budget for the United States is $442 billion. (This does not include the costs of the Iraq War, which so far add up to $300 billion.) For 2007, the president has proposed $463 billion for the military. This amount is greater than that spent by the next fourteen countries combined. The justification for this is that we need a strong military to secure our future.

If securing our future is a major goal, then we should have a well-funded education system as well. However, our federal government's education budget for 2006 is $56 billion. The president's proposal for 2007 is $54 billion---$2 billion less than in 2006. And states, it seems, are too reluctant to raise taxes to fund education. So the schools are left without, the teachers have to hit the road, and my son's future seems less secure all the time.

1 comment:

Jim said...

I'm retired, working in SpecEd at a Kentucky Elementary school of some 750 children. Some years back, this state (or least this county) opted to do away with a singular facilty for "kids with needs" and simply incorporated the whole kit and kaboodle into the mainstream process. I speak out of ignorance and, admittedly, with little understanding of "the big picture", but I stand somewhat in awe of the number of speech teachers, therapists, and numerous other titles who work within the boundaries of staff at our facility. I also see a lot of expenditures on things that, if they're so "hard up", leave me wondering how they can afford to do what they do. It's a good school. I love working with the kids. Still...I also see "business as usual"...........