Letter: Education benefits everyone
October 27, 2015
Many of you know me. I'm a proud Aspen High School graduate. I am lucky enough to get to teach music at Aspen Elementary School. I perform up and down the valley. So it will probably come as no surprise that I'm encouraging you to vote "yes" on measures 3A in Aspen and 3B downvalley. Let me tell you why.
Colorado stinks at funding education. We rank 43rd in the country in per-pupil spending. In Aspen alone, the state withheld $2.2 million this year! This leaves local districts to make up the difference.
Our school districts spend money to keep class sizes small, retain excellent teachers and offer unique programs. In Aspen, that means outdoor education, robotics and aeronautics, Spanish and French from kindergarten through 12th grade, and music and art programs. When I travel, I talk to other music teachers whose programs have been cut or who teach 25 to 35 kids in a class. In Aspen, we still have the ability to keep class sizes manageable and offer unique educational opportunities for our kids. We need to pass 3A for this to continue.
If you're someone without children and you're thinking, "Why do I care?" here's why: If you're a musician, you need people who are educated in music to attend your performances. If you're an engineer, an architect or information-technology professional, you need people who have knowledge of computers and robots and airplanes to work for you. If you work in the hospitality industry, people who speak French and Spanish are certainly a plus. What about those of us who live in the area for the natural beauty and the chances to recreate in that? Well, our outdoor-education programs teach our students how to recreate responsibly — how to hike, ski and camp and, just as importantly, how to do so with respect for the land. Besides, if you don't own property in Aspen, this measure doesn't cost you one dime. And if you do own something, you're looking at $3 for every $100,000 of property valuation. For the average local, you're probably looking at $30. Not much, is it?
I don't live within the Aspen School District boundaries, so I can't vote on 3A. But I will vote "yes" on 3B in the Roaring Fork School District, even though it won't have any direct impact on me or my children. I will, because I know that the staff in the district is working as hard as I do for every student in its schools, and it needs my financial support.
Oct. 14 was the first day of our Aspen Elementary School choir. We rehearse during lunch recess, and our choir is open to second- through fourth-graders on a purely voluntary basis. I have 150 students this year. Imagine: 150 students who are giving up recess time, by choice, to come sing. Your "yes" vote on 3A can keep them coming to music and keep giving the opportunity to find their passion.
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