cuture

The elephant in the living room

DRYDEN -- The school board recommended to Dryden Central School District administrators that a 6 percent tax levy increase for the 2011-2012 budget is possible.

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The proposed levy increase would do little to soften the impact of large state aid cuts to the district's budget, but would reduce the number of teachers and staff who would be laid off.

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"This is unsustainable," said board member Lawrence Lyon. "Education in this district is starting to look really shabby, looking at these cuts year after year. It's not education anymore, after a certain point. We need a paradigm shift."

He's absolutely right. It's not education anymore and we do need a paradigm shift, just not the kind he's talking about.

Read “Nobody Gets Married Any More, Mister: Welcome to our urban high schools, where kids have kids and learning dies," by Connecticut teacher Gerry Garibaldi (via Pundit & Pundette).  If it doesn't break your heart, you don't have one.

But, you say, that article is about urban schools, not our Tompkins County schools. True enough. But while the scale may be smaller, the issues aren't that different: many kids are being fed at least breakfast and lunch at school, as well as being sent home from school with food for evenings and weekends (one specific example is per Paula Hurley, superintendent of Trumansburg Central School, in an interview on WHCU), having nits picked out of their hair by school staff (as reported by a Newfield school staff member at Barbara Lifton's town meeting), and yes, in some cases, being taken care of during their pregnancies. Why are these things happening in schools on a daily basis? Poverty? Always and only because of poverty? 

Garibaldi says in his article, "Personal moral accountability is the electrified rail that no politician wants to touch."  Maybe we need to start talking about that elephant.

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