As a nation, we decided long ago that all children must be provided a public education. It is more than an investment in the individual. It is an investment in our communities, in the states and in the nation. It has been the best investment our country has made. We develop minds of youth from every segment of society and have become the strongest and most prosperous nation on earth. However, with the vast benefits of public education comes the responsibility to pay for it. It is a national and local commitment to the future.
Kodiak public schools are underfunded; elementary class sizes are too big.
How can a teacher attend to the many needs of 25 5-year-olds and provide each a solid educational start?
The task is enormous. With large class sizes, teachers are having to spend time on discipline and are teaching to the middle, sacrificing the others to either struggle or boredom. Many of our children are not challenged with a rigorous curriculum, leaving them unprepared for college or highly technical trades of the global economy, and uninterested in learning.
Our public education lags behind other countries. We need not only to educate at the current level, but also to raise the bar to compete at higher levels to regain our competitive advantage.
We cannot leave this to other communities. We must do our part to lift our nation by educating our children well. Our community needs to take responsibility to fund educational innovation, creativity and rigor.
On Thursday, the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly is deciding whether to fund the public schools at the level requested by the school district. Even this request requires service cuts to students. It is not enough. Yet, the assembly is considering further cuts to the school budget. Kodiak Island Borough has millions of dollars in surplus funds. We can and must do better.
We are calling on the borough assembly to fund education to the greatest allowable level, providing fuel for the engine of our economic future. We are asking our elected representatives to work together to fund a high-quality education for the benefit of all. Let excellence be our legacy.
Suzanne Rapoza is president of the Kodiak Middle School PTSA.