Close to Home: Santa Rosa can’t afford to delay investing in teachers

As I often invite my high school English students to do, let's reframe the question posed in your Tuesday editorial (“Fires leave funding unknowns for SR school district”).

How can the Santa Rosa City Schools district afford not to fund public education after the destructive, unprecedented October fires?

Now more than ever, we need strong public schools; the strength and preparation of our teaching staff is critical. We need faithful investment, not status quo.

So much is unknown, yet your public school teachers continue to create, plan, personalize, engage, read, write and advocate for our students, the children of Santa Rosa. All of them.

There are so many “unknowns,” yet I assure my high school English students with all the uncertainty they face regarding their future: college entrance acceptance, financial blocks to attend college - even a president who does not value science and facts in a political landscape devoid of civility and integrity - they/we must persevere. Decisions are made based upon shared values.

What have we learned from these fires?

The facts have not changed. Teachers in the Santa Rosa City Schools, pre and post fires, must be respected for their critical work.

The facts have not changed. Now, more than ever, the Santa Rosa City Schools need to recruit and remain competitive; they must offer teachers a health plan.

Yes, we are losing: students, benefits, time and precious, innovative, budding teachers.

The facts have not changed. Santa Rosa is a city of aspirations. Our public schools assure access to dreams. Dreams are achieved when leaders encourage not discourage.

What can our local newspaper encourage? What can the PD learn and report about regarding the school district's fiscal management, teacher's benefits - including their health care and retirement - as well as education's core values of respect, inclusivity, accessibility, equity and integrity?

Please know I appreciate the expressed fiscal concern, but I disagree with your drawn conclusion. At Maria Carrillo High School, one out of every nine students lost their homes to fire.

And the rippling effects continue. Advocate for teachers - we respond to more than our student's academic work.

Brigette Mansell, mayor of Healdsburg, has taught in the Santa Rosa City School District for 35 years.

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