I can remember after the election of Barack Obama thinking that maybe we as a nation may have finally reached a point where (to loosely quote MLK) “we judge people by the content of their character,” and maybe, just maybe, we began to view things equally. But we’re people first, so at the end of the day, we don’t care about making sure that everyone has their fair slice of the pie. Largely we want what is ours and don’t really want to share it. When it comes to our children, we might care what happens to a kid that lives 100 miles away, but at the end of the day, we’ll walk over hot coals for our own. I think that’s a fair assessment.
When we’re dealing with kids, we need to remember that largely it’s adults controlling kids or at the very least the way their schools are funded. It’s called weighting and it determines how schools get funded. Before I go into the nuts and bolts, let me really simplify it for you: “The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.” Currently it looks like the only thing being done to correct this old model of funding is the one thing Americans do well: throw more money at it. Where does that money come from? I’m so glad you asked: Taxes (not initially, but over the next few years).
The current education fund is massive, as I’m sure you’re aware. If you pay attention to Town Meetings it’s the single largest expenditure a municipality has, and the town’s people decide to pass or not pass it — or do they? When they disperse the monies to the community, is it fair and equitable? Far from it. I would dare to call it somewhat elitist. In fact, when I was discussing this inequitable way of funding schools, an example was given of a teacher that lives in a well weighted district but works in an underweighted district. Schools that are 20 minutes apart are disproportionately funded. One district had a fully funded IT department with six assistants for their library, while the other district had no IT and only one person. Where would you want your kid going?
I can really go down a rabbit hole with you on this issue. There are a ton of moving parts — a ton. What I would like to truly convey to you is this: education is critical! It doesn’t matter where a person lives or how much their family makes. If we don’t educate our children in a fair and equitable manner, we all suffer, the country suffers, income gaps get wider, and these inequities are carried forward for generations. Sure, I guess you can see where your school district is “weighted” and decide to act. That is precisely the problem; see, our state senators and representatives are all listening to their constituency, which is what they are supposed to do. But in a few rare instances, acting locally and forgoing thinking globally hurts us more than it helps us. This is that instance. I know that these lawmakers are deciding things based on what’s put in front of them; they aren’t necessarily looking beyond their own districts or area of influence. They need to, and you need to let your voice be heard.
Two of the most valuable things we have are time and knowledge. What we have here is a lack of time to create that knowledge so that everyone gets the same shot at knowing the same things. In a world with supply chains interrupted, work force flow issues, and new variants consuming the headlines, it’s easy for us to worry about things like this. The articles on this topic are long and can’t be broken down and encapsulated into a headline. So, I want to break it down to its simplest form: without fair and equitable educational resources, we all suffer! There is no getting around that, but there are simple ways for you to get involved. Go to www.cvtse.org, read up on this issue a little more, maybe donate if you don’t have the time to do anything else. There will be a public meeting that you can attend and make your voice heard on Oct. 20.
Get involved. Make the choice to make a difference.