Ever have to do something you really don’t want to do – but have to, given the circumstances?

Of course.

The Colorado State Senate just did, too.

The least-liked bill of the Spring Session is all about money.  More specifically, it’s about cutting the state budget earmarked to education.

The same week I read about Harvard increasing its tuition by 3.8%, I opened up my e-mail to find that Colorado decreased its financial support of education by 6.3%.

And this was not a wheeling and dealing, go-through-the-back-doors-to-get-a-bill passed scenario.  The senators voted 8-0 in approval of House Bill 10-1369.

They didn’t want to.

“This is the most horrible aye [vote] I’ve ever cast,” said Senator Evie Hudak of Westminster.

The prime sponsor of the measure, Senator Bob Bacon, added, “I think someone needs to say it’s a sad day when we’re cutting education.”

Sad indeed. Also a wake-up call.

Colorado is already at a dismal 48th place in rankings of state funding for K-12 education.


Granted, this is just state funding, just one of the revenue streams for school districts.  All districts, and wealthier ones in particular, get funding from its local property taxes.  But still – 48th place, of 50?  Yuck.

Sometimes new families coming into our Martial Arts Academy wonder why the tuition is high relative to the place down the street led by a man who’s teaching punching and kicking as a hobby.

Because we refuse to be in 48th place.

In my role of coaching new teachers in the local districts, the number of students in the classes I visit astounds me.  Even in a relatively well-off district, Boulder Valley, I walk into high school English classes with 30 students.  And this is just one of the teacher’s five classes.  Of course, I care how talented of a classroom manager the teacher is – how well he can engage the students during those 50 minutes, keep them from throwing spit balls, prompt them to discuss important matters of living a life of integrity.  But I also care about the students’ writing development – how much effective feedback they get from the teacher, how much the teacher “knows” their writing, can fix it, shape it, improve it.  Teachers need more than a minute or two with each student’s paper to get to know it, and work with it.

We demand so much from teachers…at the same time that we, for budget reasons, put them in extremely challenging conditions.

Thankfully, we have many parents at SMAA who volunteer at their child’s school.  And we have many parents who work, pay their taxes, and nurture their child’s curiosity and self-discipline.  We don’t “stand back” and let budget cuts stop us from offering our children a sound education.

Let’s continue moving forward with a list of educational experiences that don’t cost money.  But let’s also not ignore the fact that education, as a whole, does require a financial commitment.