Santa’s not the only one making his list and checking it twice this time of year! For parents of rising kindergartners here in Durham, it’s almost school lottery time. Parents can choose for their child to go their neighborhood school or try to lottery into a magnet, year round, or charter school.
For me, this has meant lots of school tours, magnet fairs, and a list of questions almost as long as Santa’s list. While Santa’s may be filled with all the hottest toys, mine looks a little more like this:
- How big are the kindergarten classes?
- Do they have teachers’ assistants? (I know from trying to handle my own two how much they can gang up on you. I can’t imagine trying to manage a room of 20 or more by myself!)
- How are the test scores?
- Is this a place where my child can grow and reach their full potential?
While the school selection process may differ across the Triangle and across the state, I’m willing to bet that these are the same questions that concern most parents.
And I’m afraid that if the proposed state budget cuts come to pass, we’re all going to end up feeling like we got coal in our stocking this time next year.
In preparing her 2011 budget, Gov. Bev Perdue has asked state agencies to give her lists of proposed cuts. What she got back was pretty scary.
Among the cuts under consideration are eliminating 5,000 teacher positions and 75 percent of teachers’ assistants. This would mean larger class sizes for ALL children in North Carolina public schools and less help for kids who need it. They also propose removing school nurses from over 200 schools across the state.
The list could go on. On the bright side, our future doesn't have to look like this.
Like parents of kindergartners prioritizing our lists of what’s most important for our kids, Perdue needs to prioritize what’s most important. As a former educator, she knows the importance of teachers and of giving kids a good start in life. Now we need her to act on that knowledge.
We can make a decision now to maintain investments in our families and communities, and that means prioritizing the public services that pave the way for their success.
Please take a moment to tell Perdue that we're counting on her to check her list twice and have a balanced, pragmatic approach to the state budget that includes new revenue.
Times are tight for everyone, but with careful planning and a real commitment from our state’s leaders, North Carolina can avoid being visited by the Grinch next year!
Beth Messersmith is a Durham mother of two and member of NC MomsRising.