I really like the tradition of making resolutions for the new year. Unlike the stereotypical resolutions that are mocked in the media, I’ve always tried to keep my personal promises realistic and within reach. That’s why I’m torn at the start of 2004.
Wouldn’t it be great if everybody who works in a public school would resolve to do two things to make public schools better this year? Wow! We would be a force to be reckoned with. I’d even be satisfied with every public school advocate resolving to do one thing to help. Unfortunately, many of us discount the power we have to change things for the better.
Have you ever said, “What can I do? I’m only one person.” In reality, this is an excuse that permits us to sit back and do little or nothing to improve our lot in life. Although you may not be able to change things on your own, together we have the ability to make meaningful changes. That’s the main reason we join together as members of Missouri NEA. My resolution is to involve MNEA members in MNEA’s efforts to make a difference in 2004.
So, why waste time? Let’s get started. If you are going to do just one thing this year to make public schools better for the children we teach, I encourage you to take part in the Kids First Rally at the Missouri Capitol. Feb. 16, Presidents’ Day, is the date education advocates have selected to show our concern about lack of funding for public schools. This effort has the potential to draw the biggest rally in Missouri’s history.
Spurred on by MNEA’s suggestion, the Education Roundtable has endorsed and is planning the Kids First Rally. See page 10 for more information.
The Education Roundtable members carefully selected this date in hopes that it would provide the best opportunity to draw a large group of education advocates together. Holding the event on a holiday for many, we hope that teachers, education support professionals, parents, students and other public education advocates will be free to participate. Presidents’ Day also symbolizes our nation’s tradition of providing public schools that are open to all children.
Furthermore, local school district superintendents will be able to allow educators and other community members to use school buses to transport advocates to Jefferson City. We encourage educators to work with their parent-teacher associations to raise funds for transportation expenses.
We need your resolution. Now is the time for you to decide to make a difference rather than sit on the sidelines. In case your district has more money than it knows what to do with, let me touch on the reasons why we need to show Missouri we care about public schools.
Even though Gov. Holden was able to recently release about $80 million for schools, Missouri school districts will sustain almost $120 million in cuts for 2003-2004. The picture for next year looks even worse. With a projected budget shortfall of almost $1 billion for the next fiscal year, the cuts to Missouri’s K-12 school districts could easily be in the $500 to $600 million range. These cuts will be devastating for the students we teach.
Show that you care about our students. Be there Feb. 16 to send a message to legislators that they need to take care of kids first!
by Greg Jung
Missouri NEA President