Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Put Up or Shut Up

Forgive me, readers, for I have sinned. It has been almost a month since my last blog post. My child has had some medical issues, and as he demands attention, I have less to spare for You, the Humble readership. Am I up to 2 yet?

Not too long ago, we had elections for municipal offices in the town where I reside. For months before that election, I had people drop by my home, and tell me how I should vote for them, because they were dedicated to the people they would represent, and to their platform. EVERY ONE MENTIONED EDUCATION as a top priority.

Think about that. Education is important. Who would dare say it wasn't that big a deal? Who would destroy their political aspirations by saying children were their parents' problem, not the taxpayers. Who would even contemplate saying educated people are everywhere, so if we don't produce any locally, some will move in from other places with well funded schools.

Okay, fine. Some got elected. All of those elected claimed education was a top priority. Last week, my son's kindergarten teacher mentioned that she wasn't being renewed for next year. I Humbly admit to some bias, because this lady treated my son with all the care and compassion I could have ever dreamed of, sparing his feelings and dignity, while gently guiding him through his first school experience. I Humbly admit my bias when I say she has to be one of the best teachers in the entire state. But she got pink-slipped. Budget cuts were required because of the economic climate. Tax revenues are down everywhere, and our town is no exception. In fact, please bear with me as I paste in a copy of my letter to the editor:

My son has been in kindergarten this year at the local elementary, and another will follow him in August. When we requested my son's teacher for his younger brother, we were informed that Miss Redacted won't be renewed in the coming year. I was floored. Ms. Redacted is a super example of the outstanding professionals teaching our children, and part of the reason why the local elementary is a highly rated school and credit to this community.

I know the weak economy has caused a drop in tax revenues, that belt tightening is required in every department of every level of government, and that schools are not excepted from the budget scalpel. But this strikes so close to home that it feels like an axe!

I'm confused. Someone out there made decisions involving the termination of teachers. Presumably, after all the lesser means of cutting costs were exhausted, the school staff budget was cut. Yet, during the last election, EVERY candidate told all of us that education was the highest priority! Obviously no elected official would have allowed one of the finest teachers in the state to be let go. So, who did? Who made the decision to axe Miss Redacted? Was any public discussion held, or was this a decision made behind closed doors?

To simply say that firing teachers is a cost cutting measure is very shortsighted. our town attracts families partly because of the superb reputation of the schools here. If this tragic decision is an indicator, the loss of this one teacher is just the beginning of the end of the superior rating of our town's schools. Whoever it was who pink-slipped Miss Redacted, please reconsider. The cost to this community is higher than the meager salary you are saving.

Okay, bottom line, either EVERY cost cutting measure was tried without eliminating budget shortfalls, or SOME elected official lied about education being a top priority. TEACHERS are getting axed??? TEACHERS??? We're not talking eliminating frills here. We're talking about taking the most critical members of the educational team out, and playing shorthanded. I know I don't need to say that the opposition isn't a competing school.

It's ignorance.