GUEST OPINION: Rallying community support for local education

  • This artwork by Paul Tong relates to how "No Child Left Behind" needs to be reformed to better "fit" students and teachers.

It has been a rough few years for California, and most of us have had to batten down the hatches to weather the financial storm. We have made painful decisions about what to cut and where to spend our precious funds. It makes us look at what we value as individuals, families and a community.

Public education is facing a serious crisis in Sonoma County. This is not new and has been lamented in Press Democrat editorials and Close to Home columns by individuals such as Mark Wardlaw, Jeff Reed and Claudia Fransen. They all ask the question: How much value do we put on education?

In the coming months, we need to decide what kind of future we want for our students. Our schools cannot continue to provide the education our students need with further cuts.

With scarce resources, we are forced to negotiate over which necessities to cut or fund. This is not the way to maintain a vital public good.

We hear time and again that if we cut out the "waste," there will be enough money. Please come to any of the public school board meetings and judge for yourself whether the proposed cuts involve waste. We have already cut the budget at the Santa Rosa school district from $140 million in 2007 to $129 million in 2011. We are looking at cutting another $8.3 million for next year.

The Santa Rosa Teachers Association — with support from community groups such as Occupy Santa Rosa, Moveon.org, and the North Bay Labor Council — will hold a rally at Courthouse Square on Saturday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The rally is in response to the recent news that Santa Rosa City Schools will release a list of possible cuts in the coming weeks that will include an increase in class sizes, further reductions in programs, a shortened school year and possible layoff notices on March 15.

The purpose of this rally is to send a clear message that public education needs support. The slogan for the event is "Public education strengthens our community." The goals are to:

<BL@199,12,11,10>Educate the public on the future of education.

<BL@199,12,11,10>Encourage support for funding.

<BL@199,12,11,10>And build community support.

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