Responding to crises versus preventing them: what else can we do for the public schools?

In which I repeat what I said two years ago, because it seems even more relevant now (when state budgets have throttled school budgets and the current U.S. President has identified education as a national priority):

We're feeling warm and fuzzy about the good work DonorsChoose does, and how it can broaden people's notion of the community of children they care about (not just in our town, but all over the country) ...

... but, there's this persistent voice in my head saying, "Really, as a society, we ought to be funding all the schools adequately, if not lavishly. In a civilized country, DonorsChoose would go out of business!"

The way to make that happen, it seems to me, is to see that education funding is an actual priority -- that we make sure the school have the money they need before we go funding the rest of the stuff on the list. And we need to make our voices heard with the folks who control funding for education to make this happen.

In the U.S., this means your state's governor and your representatives in the state legislature. (The reason that education funding is decided largely at the state level is that, in San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez, the U.S. Supreme Court found that there was no fundamental right to education under the Constitution.)â¨â¨

Write them letters to tell them that adequate funding for education is your priority -- and that you vote. Remind them that the kids in your state are the future workforce in your state, the ones who will be providing health care, law enforcement, education, and whose brains will be engaged in the innovations that will make your state competitive.

Or not.

Failing to invest in educating the kids in your state -- all the kids in your state -- is failing to understand how funding now yields future returns. A well-educated society costs a heck of a lot less than a poorly educated society. Even if it didn't, deciding to leave some kids without adequate education because it will save some money is a morally problematic call, putting an unfair burden on the people in our society least able to look out for their own interests.

Write some letters. Keep at it till you get some real responses. If the people who depend on our votes for their jobs get the message that education really matters to the voters, we get closer to a world where every kid gets the education he or she deserves.

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It is so very hard NOT to get discouraged when your state (Hawaii in this case) leadership has decided that it's ok to have 17 FEWER school days this year because they aren't willing to cut other programs deeper to keep the schools intact. We're ranked 49th out of 50 states in education as it is -- maybe I shouldn't be surprised...

Some may argue that ending global hunger is an even more immediate problem that needs addressed.

Its still depressing that the emails I send to legislatures get form responses back. Its hard to believe that any one is actually reading them on the other end.

Crap! You've offered me an opportunity to rant!
When I was childfree (and younger! with disposable income!), I did not understand this. I really thought that if you wanted to have a kid (or more?!), you should be prepared to pay whatever it costs to educate them. While I still feel strongly that you should not reproduce unless you can adequately fiscally accommodate your child's needs (and your wants), I understand better now that I am a self-employed tax-paying homeowner that everyone is part of a community. And as a parent of school-age children, I now have completely different ideas about how community works, especially with respect to education.
I am heavily involved in one child's school. I am mired in budget discussions as I am the chair of the SSC and I spend a lot of time explaining to other parents how pots of money are restricted and how yes, the governor can, actually, just take money away from our schools in the middle of the year and not pay it back...ever.
I send my other child to private school right now. I feel guilty about this. I am so lucky to be able to afford it right now, but that could change in a moment. I hope I feel confident enough in my local school district to send both children to the same public school next year because I like being part of my neighborhood and I think it's very important for our family to know our neighbors, to be a part of our community.
A letter to the editor in the local paper this morning suggested that online, individualized learning was the way out of this budget mess. I'm fairly tech savvy and I love the idea that a parent-educator team could really tailor lesson plans to a specific child's needs but an online solution does nothing for developing a child's social skills; it does nothing to help her function in her community and be a part of society.
I know my view is colored by the fact that I am a parent now, but I really think this is all about community and how we all live together. Education is key and should be funded as a first-tier priority.
I do hope that we can put DonorsChoose out of business in my lifetime. I'll keep writing letters and calling my representatives and being the persistent parent on every committee because we are ALL worth the cost of education!

It's not just money though. I live in Washington, DC and we spend lots and lots of money on education. However, look at our Donor's Choice choose projects. Most of them made me think: "isn't this the kind of stuff I pay a not inconsiderable amount of taxes for."

We spend lots of money per pupil. I once compared to the very wealthy public school I went to where parents considered it intolerable that the science class had 25 microscopes and 26 kids. That school district spends a little less.

Granted DC has lots of kids who are hard to educated for various reasons. But I still don't think its too much to ask for the plumbing to work reliably and there to be textbooks. Graduating kids that can read, write, and do math would also be nice.

There are some schools that are flourishing, but really that's mostly because parents seek every bit of extra money they we can. As someone I know said, "if Capitol Hill parents can't leverage a decent elementary school, no one can."

There is something going on that I'm not sure more money can fix. We spend lots of money and it's not that I mind that we spend lots of money (I have no kids) it's just that we seem to not be getting much for it.

By katydid13 (not verified) on 05 Nov 2009 #permalink