Ever have to do something you really donâ€™t want to do â€“ but have to, given the circumstances?
The Colorado State Senate just did, too.
The least-liked bill of the Spring Session is all about money.Â More specifically, itâ€™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.Â The senators voted 8-0 in approval of House Bill 10-1369.
They didnâ€™t want to.
â€œThis is the most horrible aye [vote] Iâ€™ve ever cast,â€ said Senator Evie Hudak of Westminster.
The prime sponsor of the measure, Senator Bob Bacon, added, â€œI think someone needs to say itâ€™s a sad day when weâ€™re cutting education.â€
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.Â All districts, and wealthier ones in particular, get funding from its local property taxes.Â But still â€“ 48th place, of 50?Â 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 whoâ€™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.Â Even in a relatively well-off district, Boulder Valley, I walk into high school English classes with 30 students.Â And this is just one of the teacherâ€™s five classes.Â Of course, I care how talented of a classroom manager the teacher is â€“ 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.Â But I also care about the studentsâ€™ writing development â€“ how much effective feedback they get from the teacher, how much the teacher â€œknowsâ€ their writing, can fix it, shape it, improve it.Â Teachers need more than a minute or two with each studentâ€™s paper to get to know it, and work with it.
We demand so much from teachersâ€¦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 childâ€™s school.Â And we have many parents who work, pay their taxes, and nurture their childâ€™s curiosity and self-discipline.Â We donâ€™t â€œstand backâ€ and let budget cuts stop us from offering our children a sound education.
Letâ€™s continue moving forward with a list of educational experiences that donâ€™t cost money.Â But letâ€™s also not ignore the fact that education, as a whole, does require a financial commitment.