Thursday, March 12, 2009

Educating Arizona

Two weeks ago; after much anticipation I registered Kelsie for Kindergarten. It was a little bittersweet as due to impending budget cuts, full day Kindergarten may be discontinued; and there is no way that a half a day of Kindergarten will cut it for Kelsie; as SHE is a sponge who is READY to learn. I've been trying to make arrangements to insure that her educational needs are met, just in case a half day kindergarten is unavoidable; so the budget cuts are certainly a HOT topic in my home.
When I got home from work last Friday, I checked my email and found the following from Lyndzi's teacher:
I am sorry for the short notice on this, but I felt you as parents may want to know about this.
As many of you know, the state of Arizona is scheduling MANY educational budget cuts for the 2009-2010 school year. Some of these cuts may mean the loss of over 400 teachers in the Peoria district alone. In addition, it means an increase in class sizes, the loss of junior high sports, and a possible loss of our specials classes (music, art and P.E.). Please join Sky View Staff this Saturday to distribute information to all Sky View parents and community members. Please bring your children to walk with us and show that education is important to Sky View!
Dear Friends,
This Saturday, March 7th, we, as a Sky View Staff and Community will be meeting at 8:30 a.m. Our agenda is to hand out flyers in the neighborhood, door-to-door, informing our parents and neighbors about the budget concerns. We will gather in the parking lot at Sky View.
Please plan to be there and donate one hour of your time for the sake of our Sky View children and Sky View staff who will suffer as a result of these potential cuts.

Well you know me; I can't say no when it comes to volunteering for a worthy cause ~ and WHAT could possibly be more worthy than my children's education? So on Saturday morning I woke Nicky and Lyndzi and we went over to their school. We were greeted by Ms. Berg, Sky View's Political Action liaison. Ms. Berg shared the news of all the proposed budget cuts and they were just staggering; so rather than repeat all that she shared; I'm going to post the letter that I emailed to all 3 of my district legislators.
Hello (fill in name here);
My name is Paige Ramos and I am a voter in your district. I am contacting you today as I am EXTREMELY concerned about the proposed budget cuts for education as I have 3 school age children.

At this time I would like to URGE you to allocate all of the money that we receive from President Obama's stimulus plan and apply it towards eduction; as I believe that the proposed budget cuts would be detrimental to my children's education; as well as to our economy, the future of educators and the future of our country. I myself have witnessed first hand the benefits of a full day kindergarten program as I spent time in both my 9 1/2 year old son's class when he attended a half day Kindergarten and my 7 year old daughter's class when she attended a full day last year. I can say factually that the difference in the class performance as a whole was astounding. My son was able to read when he finished kindergarten, but he was an exception; whereas, EVERY student in my daughter's class was reading by the end of the year. I also have a 5 year old daughter who due to a late birthday will attend Kindergarten next year, and I can tell you that a half a day program would be a great injustice to her. Unfortunately I am not in a financial position to afford the additional $250 a month that it would cost me to have her attend full day; and I'm certain that I am not alone in this situation.

I feel very fortunate to have my children attend Sky View elementary even though people say that schools in Arizona are not the best. I believe that my children have been receiving an excellent education from teacher's who care about them and serve each and every one. I fear that the proposed cuts will increase my children's class size which would have a profound effect on the teacher's ability to function as effectively as they have been.

If you ask ANYONE in this country, they will tell you that teacher's are underpaid. We should be insuring that people who choose to serve our children and our community are not penalized for this choice but rewarded. They should be making a lot more money than what they do; not be threatened with making less money and possibly losing their jobs.
Just as we have spent money to install all those photo radars; which in addition to saving lives, generate a lot of revenue for our city; we should be investing in education; as the children ARE our future, but they need to be thought of RIGHT NOW!

I implore you (fill in name here,) when you are voting on budget cuts to education, think of the children whose lives you are effecting. Think of the long term effects that limiting educational services will have on our state, and our country. If there is a legislator out there who is not convinced that all day kindergarten is a necessity or a worthwhile program; then I suggest that they spend some time with the children whose lives you will be changing forever. I encourage you to sit in on a first grade class that has eighteen students, and then visit another that has 26 and tell me that you don't recognize a great disparity in the progress of the children in the smaller class. . I invite you to attend a class with Project Ideal students; and see for yourselves what our gifted children are capable of; as one day they might cure cancer, or find a way to establish world peace or balance the budget. Our gifted children (my son included) look forward to attending Project Ideal; where they're being taught critical thinking skills and have studied subject matter that would never have been offered to them in a traditional 3rd or 4th grade class.

Yesterday I walked door to door with my daughter's first grade teacher, and attended a meeting with our school's political action representative. I was moved to tears over their concern for our children, their concern for their co-workers and the LACK of concern of our Legislators. I implore you (fill in name here,) contact me if you have NO doubts about voting to cut the budget; because I welcome the opportunity to change your mind.
Paige Ramos
Mother of Nicolas (9 1/2,) Lyndzi (7) and Kelsie (5)

OK, so I wrote to my legislators, and thus far I have received exactly what I expected ~ NOTHING! So, I have agreed to go to the State Capitol on March 25th to present them with the petitions that we had signed when we went door to door; and to try and impress upon them, that education is valued and necessary. As I often try to use "TBR" as a catalyst for change, I want to implore you to get involved. You don't have to write a letter; (although you may feel free to copy mine if you're so inclined - just sign your name;) you can call your reps, or even just send a postcard; as they have to count EVERY piece of mail that is received. Although it's possible that my efforts may ultimately cause no change whatsoever, one thing is for certain; if we do nothing, we guarantee that there will be no change. If you are at all concerned that 40-45 children in an upper grade is TOO much, or that your school may be losing some of its best teachers because they are only a first or second year employee, or simply that the children will NOT be getting the education that they deserve; then I encourage you to let someone know. And of course this is not just limited to Arizona; I'm sure that every district in every state will be facing some type of proposal to cut something in the educational budget, even if it's not as much as is proposed in bright and sunny Arizona.

It's absolutely amazing to me how people can bury their heads and pretend that this won't effect them. When Lyndzi's teacher and I went door to door we came upon a lovely home with a metal carrot on the wall. YES, I said metal carrot on the wall. (It was actually quite adorable.) It was serrated and painted, and it just seemed like a whimsical thing to have. Both Sarah and I actually commented to each other about how cute it was; and then it's owner came to the door. The woman was probably 35-38 and she had her daughter with her, who was probably 6 or 7. They leaned against the door jam and the woman had a VERY disinterested look upon her face as Sarah expertly explained about the proposed budget cuts. When Sarah finished speaking, the woman informed us that her daughter didn't go to Sky View, but to a charter school (about a 1/2 hour away) and that there were already 35 kids in her class. Sarah said "The budget cuts are going to effect charter schools too; although I don't have all of those details; but if you'd like to get on our email list, we could certainly get you more information;" and the woman said "No, I don't think so;" and shut the door. Sarah and I were shocked. I mean OK, it's your prerogative NOT to sign a petition or email list, but we didn't understand how someone with a school age child could just turn a blind eye. No one was home at the next house; and then we came upon another very cute home with lots of seasonal decorations. The garage door happened to be open and on the wall there hung a sign that said "Distributor of Sweetness and Light." I very enthusiastically said "Oh look Sarah; she's a distributor of sweetness and light," to which Sarah replied "Great! So what do you think that means?" And I said "I think she should be kind." Optimistically we strode to the door, and as soon as we approached; the door opened and through the screen the Distributor of Sweetness and light firmly announced "NO SOLICITORS," and shut the door in our faces. So much for signs. Yes, Yes, I completely understand that solicitors can be a pain in the neck; lord knows I get my fair share; I just thought her sign did not coincide with her actions; and you know that's the kind of irony that I enjoy.

So what more can I say? Get ready Governor Brewer, the Queen is coming to the Capitol; and I'm NOT happy! Stay tuned riders; it's once again time for me to put my money where my mouth is; and if anyone would like to join me, just let me know.
Sending SWEETNESS and LIGHT your way.
Till next time...

1 comment:

Michelle said...

Let me know which channel to tape!!! Will your sign have glitter and chipboard? You are truly the Queen of Crusades! I wish you the best on your trek to the Capitol...keep us all posted via TBR!