Schools need 3E to survive | AspenTimes.com

Schools need 3E to survive

Dear Editor:

Today I have the privilege of teaching high school students the literature of our country. We’ve been studying documents from the founding of America: the words of Thomas Jefferson and his peers.

Jefferson was one of our first proponents of free public education. He saw it as fundamental to democracy, as do I. My students have been debating what rights are universal and worth defending. I posit that a solid education, the great equalizer of society, is a human right. In a state that is not providing for the continuation of effective public schools, it is up to us as local citizens to defend the future of our valley’s children.

For the past nine years, I have lived and taught in Carbondale, and have known our community as united and supportive. This is my home, where my husband and I are working to bring our two boys home to from Haiti, and where I want them to go to school.

Yet, I see that possibility as threatened. Over the past three years, we have had to make prodigious cuts in our schools as the state economic situation has plummeted, but we have held on tightly and managed resources prudently to protect the students as much as possible. With the impending additional cuts, protecting the classrooms is not going to be conceivable unless we choose as a local community to secure our local schools by voting yes on 3E, passing the mill levy override.

We need you to understand that this money is not to raise salaries, bring in new programs or build new facilities. We are looking to hang on – to keep open and operating effectively the schools in our communities. In my own classroom, we have only 18 copies of our literature textbook, and it is now over 20 years old. We are taping pages back into novels the students are reading because they have been circulating and used long enough that the bindings are not holding.

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Last year’s decrease in staffing at our school not only increased class sizes, but also meant that our upperclassmen cannot take a full (eight-class) schedule because we no longer have enough classes and sections for them. We have beautiful buildings and excellent access to technology, but can already see that there will be sharp declines if we don’t find funding to maintain these investments.

Without 3E, there will be more drastic and grim changes to local education. I hope we can count on your yes vote.

Lindsay Hentschel

Carbondale