Letters to the Editor

Posted: Tuesday, April 23, 2002

Dedicated school district teachers need local and legislative support

Delta Kappa Gamma is a professional organization for women educators. The Homer Chapter, Omicron, which includes active and retired teachers from each school on the southern Kenai Peninsula, meets regularly to provide professional growth and literacy service projects both locally and statewide. We are deeply concerned about funding for education within the state of Alaska.

We believe this district has a highly dedicated teaching staff committed to quality education. All teachers are college graduates and continue to pursue professional development and additional degrees to improve instructional practices at their own expense. In order to meet each student's needs, most teachers spend many hours beyond their contractual agreement.

This time is spent tutoring students, preparing lesson plans, grading papers and assessing student's needs (learning, emotional, social, safety, physical, monetary, etc.).

Teachers deal with a wide range of students from all walks of society. They feed students who arrive at school without having had breakfast, drive students home that have been left at school, and become the support network for needy students. In addition to immediate student and classroom needs, teachers are involved in sponsoring clubs, coaching, serving on committees, and fund raising for supplies or field trips, all of which enhance the education of our youth.

Besides spending additional time, teachers also spend their own money to support instructional programs. A recent article in Newsweek magazine stated that the average U.S. teacher spends upwards of $500 per year of their own money for their classroom. A survey of our own group indicated that teachers in this local district contribute substantially more than Newsweek's national average. Your children would not receive the quality education they do without the personal contributions and dedication of these teachers.

As educators, we are deeply concerned about the current level of funding for education in Alaska. Due to insufficient funding, our district is currently losing experienced teachers and is being forced to cut both classified and certified staff.

These cuts frequently result in teachers being forced to teach out of their certified and endorsed areas.

Other ramifications include larger pupil-teacher ratios and elimination of instructional and extracurricular programs. Students also will experience cuts in their educational materials, supplies and equipment. According to recent testimony given to the Alaska Legislature, "For every dollar not spent on education, seven dollars will be spent on prisons and social services for undereducated people."

We encourage the public to join us in persuading our legislators to support educational funding as the number one priority for the state of Alaska. Our children should be everyone's priority.

Amy Budge, president

Omicron chapter Delta Kappa Gamma

Youthful creativity should be unleashed on state budget process

It amazes me how much money children can raise for different things they want to do.

For example, some of the youth at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in Soldotna want to go to Toronto, Canada, this summer for World Youth Day, and each of them must pay an enormous amount of money to make the trip there.

The youth have had bake sales and other events to raise the money, but recently what impressed me was they had a western night for the adults of the church with a BBQ dinner, country western music and dancing. They raised thousands of dollars in just one night and had a ball doing it.

Then you have the Girl Scouts of America. The girls have a blast selling cookies each year to raise money for their budget.

Who has not seen their children come home from school with this or that to help raise money for one thing or another? Be it candy bar sales, greeting card sales, Christmas wrap sales or the school carnival, all of these events raised lots of money.

If your child is in band, or part of a class needing to go on a trip, you may have participated in one of their fund-raisers for a trip they wanted to go on. Did you ever hear of any one of these projects failing to raise enough money?

As elementary as it may seem, these children's fund raisers ended up being a fun way to raise money. Sure, it requires some work on their part and the part of their parents, but for the most part it is fun and a good experience for the children.

When I hear about some of the cuts in the state budget this year, like eliminating some of the state parks in our own back yards used more by the resident Alaskans, I think of how much fun our kids could have raising the money to keep them open -- or better yet, our kids could probably do a good job running the parks.

Or, even better still, maybe the kids as a class project could decide the state budget and spending for the next year and teach some of us a thing or two.

Really though. Wouldn't it seem that a lot more energy could be put into finding ways to raise money for education and parks budgets than to cut out the most important money the residents of Alaska need? It seems that the older some of us get the less we use our heads.

There must be a solution much better than what we are hearing being proposed for 2002 state budget.

Would someone please send some thinking caps to Juneau while there is still time left to help the quality of life Alaskans so appreciate?

Mark Conway


Recent legislative decision about PFD eligibility raises questions

Just curious ... how much money could the state save if the members of the Alaska Senate and House of Representatives AND their immediate families were ineligible to receive a yearly permanent fund check?

Of course, then you might ask how much MORE could we save if all those families that lived within a mile radius of the members of the Senate and the House of Representatives were deemed ineligible to receive their permanent fund check?

If we are going to discriminate, maybe we should not give anyone with the last name of Phillips a permanent fund check.

And, who is next?

Jo Ann Elson


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