I was reading the Juneau Empire online Wednesday when I read that the Valley high school had been approved. While I was not surprised, I was deeply saddened by this poor choice by the voters of Juneau.
I spent my freshman year at Juneau-Douglas High School, where I never once was late to class because of crowding, never once felt lost or unwanted because of the size of the school, and never felt as if anything about the facility was not conducive to my learning. I did, however, feel that class size affected my learning, that the lack of available advanced classes affected my learning, and that the ancient textbooks made my learning experience harder than it had to be.
Especially disheartening was Mary Becker's quote, "Now it's time to build, build, build." That seems to be exactly the attitude in Juneau: build, build, build. A million here for a new soccer field, $54 million for a new high school, a little more for a new police station in Lemon Creek. What the city fails to realize is that no matter how beautiful of an atrium there is at the high school, the school will fail without adequately paid teachers, ample supplies of textbooks, and manageable class sizes. No, we are blinded by the promises of bigger, shinier buildings that will be "temples" to the education of our youth. We are debilitated by these promises, made blind to the reality of the matter: While the government spends recklessly, the students suffer the consequences.
Not only do they sit in classes with as many as 35 students, but they will have to pay the debts that the current generation is incurring. I count myself lucky that I do not go to JDHS anymore; I am a student at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. But I haven't forgotten what the high school is like. I haven't forgotten the fact that AP courses barely have enough students to justify having a class. I haven't forgotten the teacher strike that almost occurred.
I may be lucky to not be one of the students who are affected by this colossal misjudgment by the voters of Juneau, but, unfortunately, about 1,700 students are. So don't let yourself be convinced by the amazing new facilities. Look at the state budget deficit and think long and hard. Think about who will really pay for this.