Eleanora Ferrante, South Huntington PTA Legislative Committee co-chair
Last Thursday, Dr. John King, state education commissioner, had the opportunity to hear the concerns of our district regarding the state of education. A panel asked Dr. King pointed questions on the key issues affecting education today: given the tax cap, state and federally imposed mandates, and the numerous assessments imposed on our students, how are we to take our very limited resources and ensure that we continue to provide the best possible education for our children?
Our children need to be prepared to enter the world after high school – no matter where their path may take them. While our children certainly have an obligation to do the best they can, we all have a responsibility to ensure that they succeed. The Race to the Top’s educational reforms are supposed to ensure that all students are well educated, but are they? Vocational training, music and art programs, kindergarten and Advanced Placement classes are not “extras." They are integral to the education of many students. Yet often, these are the very programs to be cut when money is tight. Smaller class sizes are not a luxury; they help ensure that teachers have the time and resources to help their students succeed. But class sizes have been increasing in many districts again due to financial constraints.
It is critical that our elected officials at all levels hear our concerns. We cannot sit idly by while our children’s education is decimated. Now is the time to contact your state and federal legislators. Now is the time to attend your Board of Education meetings. Now is the time to be the voice of our children.
In a world focused on fulfilling mandates, assessing our students at every turn, and keeping within a 2% tax levy cap, we need to stay focused on our future – our children. We are testing many new ideas all at the same time. We are potentially negatively impacting a legion of children who are caught in a storm of competing needs for very limited resources. Let us hope that these children are able to weather the storm and come out well prepared to continue their journey. Our future depends on it.