funding is not coming

Another election season has come and gone, and I for one am more than happy to bid farewell to the political advertisements and phone calls.  In the last few days before Tuesday, and after we had already turned in our mail-in ballots, we were averaging about 5 phone messages a day telling us why to vote for various candidates and amendments. While I’m sure that there are many opinions about the national election results out there, and most of you reading this probably know what side of the line I was on, there were some local results that I was disappointed in.

We had three measures up in our county that would have increased property taxes a little and benefitted some of the public services.  Two were about the school district and one was for the public library system.

All three failed to pass.

I admit that I am more than a little biased on these issues. With Rhiannon teaching in the public school system, we would have seen a nice mid-year increase in our household income had the school bonds and mill-levys passed.  Last summer, the teachers received a 0.5% salary increase to cover cost of living expense increases.  Ok, I know that the recent job reports have seen a huge number of layoffs, so I won’t push this issue when she still has a consistent and steady job.

The part that gets me is that our county is, on average, one of the richest in Colorado based on per household income, yet the school system has one of the lowest budgets based on dollars per child in the entire state (these are figures directly from the school district).

Because the school systems are spending more money to supply food and to get kids to the school, they don’t have money for classroom improvements or new carpets that are walked on by hundreds of feet every day.  Non-classroom positions like technology specialists and resource teachers to help plan curriculums may be cut.  We expect our educators to work magic with kids who aren’t taught respect, courtesy, or any sort of work ethic at home and then we refuse to give the education system and money to work with.

I know that some people think teachers are glorified baby-sitters and are overpaid.  I looked on Craigslist at some common rates for baby-sitters in the area.  $10/hour seems like a pretty common if even a little low number.  I’ll even put in 2 kids for that rate.  7 hours a day by $10/hour by 10 pairs of kids in a classroom (I’m rounding down since there are more than 20 kids per class but other people in school as well).

$700 a day for a babysitter.  And while their at it, teachers should prepare kids for the future and educate tomorrow’s leaders.  I think that’s a little more challenging that making chicken nuggets in the oven.

Yes, I’m biased.  Yes, I think the schools need to manage their money better.  I still think education should be public and free to attend.

But I also think that the general public doesn’t understand what goes in to a classroom today.  It isn’t a curriculum that involves reading from a text book, handing out a worksheet, and grading a test.  Things are suppose to be fun, creative, engaging, active, authentic, and advanced.  Between the parents who can’t understand why their child isn’t at the top of the class and the parents who couldn’t care less about their children, I don’t think teachers get to spend nearly enough time planning and working with the kids.  They have to play politics as well.

Ok, I’m off the soap box. I know the education system needs work, and I don’t have any solutions. But I’m disappointed in the community I live in this week. I wrote that I felt like a part of this community on Halloween. The county is more than the people on the streets around us, but I can’t see the other side of this issue.  Maybe people aren’t as much like us as I thought.