Tomorrow, the 5th of May, will be celebrated as a giant drinking holiday. All I am seeing online is margarita recipes and specials on Jose Cuervo. But tomorrow also marks another day that I have been thinking about much more: the voting on a levy to fund my former school system.
I attended Springfield Local Schools in Holland, Ohio from elementary school through receiving my high school diploma. Though we like to make jokes about the reputation of our school, like our football team record, I am never not proud to say I graduated from Springfield in 2010.
Thanks to Springfield, I walked across the stage at graduation full of confidence, and excitement for my future. There was no doubt in my mind that my school system had prepared me for college, and life after, thanks to all the opportunities afforded to me as a student.
Academically, I never felt unprepared. No matter if I was ahead or behind in the material, the teachers always made sure extra help was available, either through already scheduled programming, or taking their own extra time to help us by coming in early, or staying late.
When not having an extra language class jeopardized my opportunity to graduate with honors (by my own poor planning, I might add) my french teacher, Madame Post, who was recently named Teacher of the Month by BCSN, organized an individual study credit for me, including taking time out of her vacation to meet with me during the summer. I received my class credit, and my yellow cords at graduation thanks to her commitment to her students.
I could continue to name the teachers that have shaped my life. Teachers that had such an impact on my life that caused me to panic on the last day of high school and run back into the building in tears to say goodbye (I’m lookin’ at you, Mr. Perlaky), but there aren’t enough words. You can teach without books, you can teach without desks, but you can’t teach without the individuals that dedicate themselves to us.
Aside from the jeopardy of the classroom, the most beloved part of what makes a school a community is also threatened: the extra-curricular opportunties.
My school experience was jam packed with anything I could fit: concert band, marching band, band ensembles, theater, drama club, National Honor Society, track, cheerleading, Student Council, prom committee, and even sitting in our choir when time allowed. To describe how each of these activities shaped me as a person would (again) take far too many words, but can be summed up by how I carry myself as a young adult today. Theater and band taught me confidence and camaraderie, Student Council gave me a voice that is hard to find as a young person, and the belief that it is possible to inflict change, and cheerleading and track showed me the beauty of hard work and reaching goals. All the while making memories with friends, and finding role models in the teachers that lead us each day.
School is compulsory for students. Through childhood, we feel like we spend more time in a classroom than we do at home. School is not only there to teach us material, but to help us grow and develop during a pivotal time in our lives. So why do we act as if the place designed to grow us, and support us is such a burden?
We can complain all we want about schools being denied proper funding from the government— that’s an entirely different conversation about politics that we simply don’t have time for here— but the important thing to consider is how is this affecting our students NOW.
Five short years since I’ve graduated, the school I remember is struggling, thanks to funding. Teachers, administrators and the community are trying their best to provide for Springfield, despite the economic circumstances. Teachers are doing more for far less, and it’s the students, our next generation, who are feeling the strain.
We can complain about how much our taxes will increase– which, I may add, is lower than most other Ohio districts, according to the recent audit— but in the end, it comes down to how you want our kids, and the next generation to be shaped. Cutting even more teachers when we already have less than most schools, and taking away what draws the students to the schools (sports, clubs, memories) and the parents to the district (opportunities, community, reputation) is not the answer.
Public education benefits not only those in the school, but everyone interacting with them. The creation of a productive citizen starts in childhood, which starts in the schools. Even if you don’t have a child in the district, think of who you interact with everyday, and how that could be different depending on where/how they are educated.
Vote Yes for Springfield and vote yes for the students, the parents, the community, your neighbor, the child down the street from you, or the person standing in line behind you at the grocery store.
Vote Yes for all of us.