Letters to the Editor
Got something to say about what you’ve read here or a burning local issue? The Island is now accepting Letters to the Editor. If you wish to submit a letter, e-mail it to us with your full name (and a phone number for verification purposes) to email@example.com. Deadline is noon on Thursday for Friday’s Letters post, and our letters publication policy is in the sidebar to your right.
Give us a reason to believe
I have two young sons, the oldest a first grader at Franklin Elementary. In the short year and a half since Ben entered public school here in Alameda, I’ve been a PTA member, homeroom mom, classroom helper, art docent, field trip chaperone, applier of sanitizer and inserter of juice box straws, moderator of four-square disputes, and Measure E street captain.
This year in an effort to get my head around the district’s many challenges, I’ve tried to attend every school board meeting and public hearing. I sit and listen on Tuesday nights to the horror story unfold: unconscionable state funding, budget cuts, teacher layoffs, furlough days, school closures. Every meeting is usually topped off by at least one dismissal of the school my son loves as an undersized, aging facility not worthy of future funding. I leave feeling overwhelmed and defeated, go home to my husband and tell him it might be time to cut and run—the problems are too big, and I no longer have confidence we’ve made the right choice for our kids.
Wednesday mornings are my saving grace. I volunteer for an hour in my son’s first/second split class and watch an amazingly talented, generous, energetic teacher engage, challenge, and meet the needs of 25 wildly different children—each funny, bright, quirky, and ready to learn. Every night when I put my son to bed, he gives his day a grade, the range is anywhere from A for Awesome to F for Fantastic, though I admit his grading system is often dependent on that day’s hot lunch selection and wall ball outcome. But I’m reminded of what we’re fighting for.
Now I’m asking AUSD and the school board to give us a reason to hope. I understand that the status quo cannot remain. But I need to see beyond what we will lose. I need a vision of what our schools can be, West to East, K through 12.
We need a parcel tax that’s worth our while, that raises enough money to save what we value most in our schools. We need the board to vote on this parcel tax on time this November, in time, before the families who have a choice leave our district and our town, before already demoralized teachers leave their profession. And who would be left holding the bag? Families without other options, kids in greatest need of a strong system, and the already overworked, underpaid educators who have dedicated their careers to serving them, with or without adequate resources.
We need this parcel tax because we need to believe that we’re making the right choice for our children, and that this district is capable of giving all students the education and opportunities they deserve.
The Island received a copy of this letter.