Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Letter to the Editor: Get involved in decison-making

on April 30, 2014 10:59 AM

I retired from public school teaching five years ago. Since then, some things have changed, but most things have remained very much the same.

Factions still exist that either want to close school buildings to save tax money or the opposite groups who want to raise taxes to maintain the status quo. Academic pro-gress is increasingly measured by standardized testing, which has created a “teaching to the test” situation within classrooms. Teachers, already stressed from dozens of new state and federal initiatives, are now being considered as volunteer armed agents within their own classrooms (state Senate Bill 1193).

To make matters more dire, school boards are plagued with decreasing state and federal funds, even though mandates continue. Pushed to balance school budgets, boards look to cutting programs or reducing staff to make ends meet. Often such actions are met with incredulous cries from angry parents who want favorite programs continued.

Simplistic solutions from politicians for solving school violence overlook the need for more committed resources, i.e., resource officers in schools, broader mental health services and encouraged cooperation between local municipalities. Everyone has an answer and yet no one likes the solutions proposed. Too often many look through the glass darkly.

Rather than being informed and proactive, most taxpayers avoid going to meetings and rely upon a few paragraphs in the local paper for information. Worse yet, many parents and older taxpayers rely on hearsay and gossip to guide their arguments.

But if we are to keep our schools viable and our children lifelong learners, we all must be more responsible participants in decision-making. If we allow ourselves to be committed, creative, consistent and cooperative with one another, then the goal of public education will be reached.

For those of us who seem to forget the true reasons for establishing public schools, it is good to remember that the goal was an educated electorate who could fulfill the promises of democracy.

Again the real question is one of having the will to work together to solve the complex problems of public education. Do we? Time will tell.

Josephine Cunningham

Indiana

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