It’s all academic | AspenTimes.com

It’s all academic

Dear Editor:

This marks my 41st year in teaching and my 28th as a faculty member at Aspen High School. Over that span of time, I have experienced, along with my many teaching colleagues, seemingly cyclical periods of anxiety and uncertainty about school funding and the potential for major changes that would come with drastic reductions.

Up to now, even with stinging cuts in funding, our schools have managed to maintain the highest levels of quality instruction, expansive sports offerings, unique programs like Outdoor Ed. and Experiential Education, a high-stakes academic program like International Baccalaureate, a college-driven standard in teacher-to-student attention and class size, enrichment learning and consistent possibility for all students. All these and many other things, simply put, make the Aspen schools unique among public schools in this state and, probably, on the national level. In addition, the mere existence of the Aspen Education Foundation, an independent, community-based and driven support network for the schools here, shows emphatically that this community prioritizes the instruction, learning, and meaningful experiences of its young people.

In this election cycle, however, the tone of things has darkened; the threats to education as we know it (indeed, as this community expects it) are more onerous and insidious than ever. Propositions 60 and 61, and Amendment 101 are legislative representations of short-term thinking and a frightening disregard of larger consequences – and not just for schools but also for essential services in our state. Aspen voters, stop these measures with your thoughtful votes against them.

A jolt to the school district’s budget appears inevitable on some level; however, our community has the opportunity to lessen the long-term impacts of that punch in the fiscal gut. It’s called Referendum 3A. Yes, it’s the T-word, a tax, a raising of costs to all in a weak economy and during a time of monetary struggle for most, but 3A is also an opportunity for reaffirmation of our community’s commitment to its schools and a tacit statement of our collective priority-what serves our children first and best.

Vote “no” on 60, 61, and 101, and help our schools sustain their notable benefits to children by voting “yes” on 3A.

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Andy Popinchalk

Aspen