I ‘m writing to ask readers to write the legislature with this urgent request: please provide adequate funds and an increase in the Base Student Allocation (BSA) in the FY19 budget. This is an issue of quality of life and social justice for Alaskans, as our children reflect our values and the understanding provided by a rich and multi-faceted education, carrying their learning into the future and making decisions that impact all of us.
As a retired teacher, I have observed, when funding is cut, children suffer, as fewer teachers are hired and classes become increasingly crowded. Students with special needs receive less focus and children fade into anonymity. It is extremely difficult to teach individual children at their instructional level when there are so many to reach.
In addition, many children suffer from unthinkable stress, as a result of substance dependency and trauma in their homes. That leads to behavioral issues and classroom disruptions for teachers to handle, at the cost of student learning.
Recently, I talked with a young kindergarten teacher who greets 28 five- and six- year-olds each day, without any instructional aide support. Her life at school is a whirlwind, stirred by two tiny dervishes whose out-of-control behavior demands her constant attention. Meanwhile, 26 others wait for their teacher to return to their lessons. Sending the needy ones to the office is not an option, as the office is full of other students in need of the principal’s attention. The teacher continues to teach as best she can, in the absence of appropriate support.
Educational research indicates that class size indeed impacts teaching and learning. It is the responsibility of government to adequately fund schools and ensure the continuity of funding so school administrators can plan for and maintain safe and smooth-running schools where learning is the focus.
In addition, our schools need increased broadband throughout the state so our rural schools have access to remote learning opportunities. Please request adequate funding for this purpose.
We must not punish our teachers and students for our state’s economic woes. Write the entire legislature now, asking for fund adequate school funding and an increase in the BSA. Alaska’s children deserve this. And so do we.