Letter: Chronic underfunding hurting teachers, students
To the Editor:
I am the parent of three Shelton public school children. I grew up in Shelton and I attended Shelton public schools as well. To see how the education in this town has changed since I was a child is both encouraging and sickening. Encouraging because I have met teachers who are dedicated and compassionate professionals who are doing their level-best to educate our most valuable resource — our children.
I am sickened because of how these dedicated and compassionate professionals are knee-capped and then blamed for poor student performance. The school district has run over budget many times. Has anyone deigned to consider the reason for this is because the school district is underfunded by the budget? These anemic budgets that are passed are myopic at best and harmful at worst. The myopia that comes from underfunding our children is that we end up with a less educated society. Every economist will tell you that an uneducated/undereducated society is an expensive society. For your edification, I have included a link to the Barbara Bush Foundation which provides a simple breakdown of how poorly educating our children affects our entire society.
People in general can agree that a child’s basic needs for physical and social/emotional well-being are critical to their maturation. Their intellectual growth and well-being should be no less important. Yet each year the town chooses to make cuts to the education budget. Who suffers the repercussions? The teachers and then by default our students.
By cutting teacher salaries, school supply budgets and programs, how do you truly expect to attract the best and the brightest teachers for our children? Don’t our children deserve the best possible education? I know mine do. The town and state set goals for teachers to achieve as some sort of perverted competition while providing fewer and fewer resources to achieve these goals. And when the teachers do manage to achieve these goals, the “leaders” of the districts take their credit. If these teachers should fall short in attaining these goals, they are admonished and publicly criticized.
This is a brutal system that these dedicated and compassionate professionals have to endure, year after year. Make no mistake, they are professionals. The basic requirement for a teacher is a BA/BS. They must attain a MA/MS in order to continue teaching. Many teachers have much more extensive education beyond this and they are treated so disrespectfully and with such disdain. This is unacceptable. The budget should at minimum be based on the essential needs of the schools rather than on the perverse political agenda of those who control the purse strings.
I urge you to do the right thing. You know in your heart what the right thing is. Shelton has a very wide retail tax base; our schools should not have to beg for scraps. Our children deserve more than abused teachers and begging schools.