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My Turn: Fix this problem - fund our Schools

Posted: November 6, 2012 - 1:00am

There are 25 kids in my 5-year old’s kindergarten class at Harborview, and the numbers are continuing to rise. There is just one teacher, and somehow my 5-year old is supposed to learn how to read, write, count and add. His teacher is award winning and her incredible talents are being wasted on crowd control. High quality education under these conditions doesn’t just require great teaching skills – it also requires magic, and I don’t want to pin all my hopes for my child on magic.

By the time the Legislature arrives with their children in tow, there could be 30 kids in my son’s kindergarten class, or 35. Apparently, there is no limit to how many kids can be in an Alaska kindergarten class — just “recommended” caps that are ignored despite the fact that they are already so high.

Harborview was a much different place even just a year ago. I was proud and excited about my children’s education - but decisions were made that hit my children’s school like 5-ton steamroller at 100 miles per hour. So many things are being funded in our amazing community and in this great state of ours, and yet teaching our 5-year-olds (and 6-,7- and 8-year-olds) has been moved way down the priority list?

I just want my kids to have the same chances I had growing up here when I was starting at the same school 35 years ago. My kids even have the same crossing guard that I had nearly four decades ago — shouldn’t they be given the same opportunity to learn?

My children cannot advocate for themselves. They are five and eight.

I am urging you to stand up for my kids, and so many other Juneau kids like them. Help advocate for a new Harborview teacher. Even more importantly, urge that sufficient funding for Alaska’s elementary schools be put back in the state budget, and that caps be placed on classroom size. Parents shouldn’t have to be begging for teachers in November.

I really believe that Juneau is just about the most fabulous place in the world to raise kids — and yet without reasonable class sizes for our schools youngest — the most important element of my children’s high quality of life is taken away. We need to move forward when it comes to education. We are moving backwards. Somebody fix this, please.

• Schijvens is mama to Denali, 5, and Zayden, 8, students at Harborview Elementary.

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