I am a full time senior at Yaakoosge Daakahidi alternative high school and work full time at Goldbelt Hotel. The Alaska Legislature is abandoning the students of Alaska by not funding education to a level that avoids cuts. President Bush has said that no child will be left behind. Yet, without smaller class sizes, children are getting left behind.
I witnessed testimony on March 9, 2005, at the Senate Finance Committee on education funding. It surprised me when I heard testimony from elementary schools, then middle and high schools. People from other towns in Alaska have classes larger than 30-40 kids. With classes that large, it's difficult to get a teacher to help you. How can young students learn in that environment? I try my hardest to help my little sister, so she won't feel neglected by teachers who don't have the time to give her the attention she needs to understand reading. She has difficulty reading, like me. I never knew I had a hard time reading until I started middle school, and it totally hurt me when I started high school. I find it hard to understand what I read sometimes. I have to pass the reading-qualifying exam to graduate. I must study and get help after school or at lunch to understand and try to pass. That's why I'm at the alternative school this year. I can get the attention that I need from my teachers to achieve the grade I deserve and to get my high school diploma.
Even at Yaakoos, it is hard to concentrate and work in a classroom that is the size of my bedroom. It's especially difficult to get access to a computer to finish college essays, assignments or projects for class because we only have nine computers.
Why spend millions of dollars to build a new capitol, gas line or even a new road when that can go to the kids that are going to be the future and the knowledge of the state?
We are the future. I will graduate, and I will make it. And I will achieve my goals and challenge myself. But I know many who won't because the high school is too big to help them, and the alternative high school is too small to take more students. Won't the Legislature help us, the students of Alaska?