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Kids Under the Bus, and What You Can Do About it.

There’s no doubt about it. Alaska is blessed. Just ask Governor Sean Parnell. These are golden oily days indeed. In his state of the state address last week, he told us that financially, we’re doing just fine, thankyouverymuch But what if…  What if some day we aren’t? We should really start cutting the budget just in case. Besides, swashbuckling with a red pen looks really good, even if you have a patch on both eyes. It can even make a chief executive/oil lobbyist look like a sound-minded fiscal conservative. Don’t look over there where the state is readying itself to shovel pallet loads of cash into the waiting pockets of the Big 3 oil companies…. Instead, check out Captain Zero and his mighty red Bic sabre, slashing and hacking with wild abandon. HYAAAAH!

And what makes the most sense to cut, just in case things get bad in the future? How about cutting the future itself – yes, that’s it!  Education!

Of course Parnell says he wants things to improve – test performance, graduation rates, drop out rates… And things are improving.

Just five years ago, Anchorage’s high school graduation rate was staggeringly low. Superintendent of Schools, Carol Comeau noted “Now, more than ever, our young people are leaving school with a high school diploma. Our graduation rate is near 72 percent, up from 62 percent just five years ago. We still have a long way to go but our efforts are working, and this is good reason to celebrate.”

Part of this success is due to the fact that in 2008, the Anchorage School District hired Graduation Support Coordinators, or “graduation coaches”, to help increase graduations and reduce the dropout rate.

We’ve seen good things happen when we’ve had the money to invest in making class sizes smaller, and creating jobs for those committed to helping kids be successful. We can all hope really hard that momentum continues now that they don’t have the money any more. I bet that will work. Ready everyone? 1 – 2 – 3…. HOPE!

For now, we can watch those who have devoted their careers and their souls to the calling of helping kids succeed, tell us how they are going to spend less per kid, put more of them in the classroom and eliminate the people in positions to help the most vulnerable succeed. That’ll fix their little red wagons.

Yesterday and today, Carol Comeau presented the 2012-2013 budget to the Anchorage School Board.”These are extremely difficult cuts to make,” she said.  “If we had the funds, I think we would have made very few cuts to these programs that are helping our students, particularly our struggling students. But we have to make tough choices in order to produce a balanced budget.”

Program eliminations include:
Summer school – elementary, middle and high school (No problem making up credits as long as your family can afford a private program, though)
Middle school career guides
Middle school in-school suspension teachers
Student support program supervisors, and
High School Graduation Coaches

Right wing talk radio bloviators have recently taken to mocking High School Graduation Coaches. They roll their eyes and chuckle… What are “graduation coaches” anyway? I’ve never heard of them… What do they even DO? Just another librul money-sucking made up job… Bla bla bla.

Here’s a little something for the Google challenged on the right wing airwaves who apparently use their own narrow sliver of pre-existing knowledge as a benchmark for the worthiness of a program. Watch and learn.

Programs reductions include:

Elementary counselors
Elementary librarians and assistants
Special Education/Related Services
English Language Learner services
Gifted Education services
Curriculum & Instructional Support
Maintenance positions and project funds
Warehouse positions
Custodial positions

In total, the new budget will kill almost 90 jobs.

The administration is also recommending a class size increase for students in grades 3-12.

Grade 3 – 0.5 increase
Grades 4-8 – 1.0 increase
Grades 9-12 – 1.5 increase

“Class-size increases are the last thing we look at when trying to balance the budget,” said Comeau. “We know this is a very important issue for our teachers, principals, students and the community.”

“Over the years, we have added more programs to try to address individual learning needs,” said Comeau. “Many of these programs have proven effective but we’re in a place now where we have to make hard calls based on available funding. I don’t like this budget but I think it’s as responsible as we can make it… These cuts are necessitated by the lack of revenue increases at the state level and only a slight increase at the local level.”

Meanwhile back at the Governor’s office, Sean Parnell says he has problems with things like raising the base student allocation.

Parnell says in difficult economic times, domestically and abroad, Alaska must remain as liquid as it can financially.

So, what have we learned? Things are really great here in Alaska. We’re not having the problems everyone else is. BUT, down in the Lower 48 and abroad, things aren’t so rosy. And that’s really what should drive our policy. So, just in case bad things happens here, we need to underfund education while giving billions away to the oil companies, and everything will work out just fine. See how that works?

Fortunately, there are those in the legislature whose priorities differ from those of the governor, and haters of the biggest of all entitlement programs – edjacation.

I give you one Joe Thomas. Through the Senate Education Committee, Senator Thomas is the prime mover on SB 171, which would increase the Base Student Allocation by $125 this year, and more next year.  As co-chair of  Senate Education, he already has SB171 scheduled for this Friday morning. 

Here’s where you can help, by taking your daily dose of Vitamin Democracy.

That’s you all hopped up on Vitamin Democracy on the left, wielding your internet activist hammer against the snaggle-toothed forces of ignorance who think it’s too expensive to have educated children who contribute to a happy and healthy society.  >THWACK<  Here’s how you do it.

Help Senator Thomas, by giving him the evidence (via your emails) to demonstrate that people actually care about education and believe that children, even the ones who don’t have all the advantages, are the key to a successful and prosperous future. We can either invest now in happy, successful kids who graduate, get jobs and pay into the system, or we can abandon them, and pay later for prison, entitlement programs, and thereby create adults who take from the system. It’s our choice. Being compassionate and supportive actualy pays off monetarily too. It’s nice how that works.

Please send an email to Senator Thomas before Friday morning AND copy your own senator, to tell them that you support raising the base student allocation. It’s an investment in the future that’s easy to afford.

Senator_Joe_Thomas@legis.state.ak.us 

Comments

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Comments
12 Responses to “Kids Under the Bus, and What You Can Do About it.”
  1. carol says:

    Yay, Joe Thomas. His work history is union; I’ve seen his election signs in areas that I know are Republican, right along with Republican signs. When he initially ran against Ralph Seekins (Ford dealer, Republican), Joe’s statement was “he’s in sales, I’m in service.” I thought that was pretty good. I read somewhere that Thomas Jefferson was so in favor of public education, he spent his life working for it and died essentially impoverished and his estate had to be sold for his debts. If this is incorrect, please tell me where to look. This I took from Wikipedia on Thomas Jefferson.
    “Jefferson believed educating people was a good way to establish an organized society. He believed such schools should be paid for by the general public, so less wealthy people could be educated as students.” Education is THE way to a better future.

  2. Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

    LL – both Gates and Murdoch have the same agenda, I was making an effort at a little sarcasm.

  3. Parnell doesn’t know his Bible very well; I instantly thought about Joseph’s interpretation of the Egyptian ruler’s dream: Store the surplus so you can feed the people during the lean years.

    Also, children are the future. They need education to make important decisions. That’s why our founding fathers encouraged free public education,- not to indoctrinate wage-slaves, but to develop the critical thinking abilities of our future decision-makers.

  4. CorningNY says:

    Just curious–were any administration positions slated for cutting? It galls me when they cut and cut the size of the school staff, but never cut any administrators, who are, of course, in the most highly paid positions.

    • Happy Place says:

      Actually, the governor just increased the size of his *own* staff. Like Trix, “fiscal conservatism” is apparently for kids.

  5. Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

    The privatization and commercialization of public education is a main goal of the plutocrats.

    Beaglemom – answer to your question, the future improved form of public education. When 51% of the population can’t read or write the republicans will be in power forever.

    Zyxomma – and yes the military is a wonderful choice, make sure the lives are short.

    I can’t view youtube videos but I can imagine. A long time ago I mentioned that both Bill Gates and Rupert Murdoch are making big investments in “edjication”. To them it is a market. So why not the Kochs?

    Leenie17 – I think you are quite right, and after more than 30 years of miseducation their parents are probably not well equipped to realize the disadvantages of privatization and commercialization. We don’t want no taxes going to provide hand outs like a ‘free’ education.

    Just one quibble with the original post. I would be cautious about use of the term entitlements. I am pretty sure that you use it with a degree of sarcasm, but it has also taken on the right wing taint to the extent that a lot of people don’t know what it means and might misunderstand you. By virtue of our citizenship it is true we are all entitled to an decent education, after all we pay for it. That is until the system that has worked so well for over a century is dismantled to the extent that we are simply paying profits to corporations.

    I am continually amazed at the extent to which the right wing blatently displays their scorn for everyone else who doesn’t hew to the chords of their hymnals. And they are allowed to get away with it. It is deeply disturbing, troubling, confounding. I really cannot understand how it has come to this impasse.

  6. leenie17 says:

    It’s very simple – children in elementary, middle and high school don’t vote and don’t have lots of money to contribute to political campaigns. Therefore,clearly, they are unimportant.

    If money needs to be taken from somewhere to be given to the TRULY important entities like energy companies and rich people and corporations who will send in big checks to PACs, the most obvious place to take it from is education. Because children don’t count after they’re born.

    And the children of rich people – you know, the ones who kinda count just a little because you have to someday leave your fortune to SOMEone, don’t you? – well, they can go to one of those fancy private schools where they don’t mingle with the riffraff.

    See? It’s all good.

  7. beaglemom says:

    Well, it’s always the same thing with Republicans. Love those babies before they’re born. But, once born, deprive them of everything you can – food, health care, education. Keep them dumber than dumb. And let the 1% become even more removed from the realities of life as the rest of us live it.
    How any living human being can ever vote for a Republican is just beyond me!

    • Zyxomma says:

      When they stay uneducated and dumb, they get into trouble as teens. Then, they’re given a choice: prison, which can haunt them for the rest of their lives, or a clean record if they “choose” to join the military.

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