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A Response to Ms. Peltz

March 25, 2011

Dear Ms. Peltz, 

 

Thank you for your e-mail. It is clear where you stand on the issue concerning the referendum. As an educator and parent of two current students at Nicolet, I will respectfully disagree with you and enthusiastically support the referendum. We moved to this community because Nicolet's excellence clearly exceeded that of many other local communities and we wanted our kids to have the best public education possible. I have only lived in Glendale for six years but over that time, I have watched Nicolet and Glendale/River Hills continue to make cuts to teaching and administrative staff, ship 4th graders over to Glen Hills, do away with or dumb down "gifted" or accelerated reading and writing programs to "lowest common denominators," and reduce "elective" education (arts, music, theatre, physical education, and vital extra-curricular activities including sports) which are crucial to serving a well rounded approach to all the spheres of intelligence. As a college educator, I see what the dearth of these services renders in my incoming freshman's (nearly all products of public schools) poor writing and vocabulary skills, general lack of sophisticated cultural knowledge, and even poor physicality and posture. 

 

I will rigorously oppose any cuts to music, arts, physical education, and sports. They are no less necessary than math and science (and reading and articulate writing have even become secondary to these "goals"). Throughout their education here, my children have had the honor, privilege and opportunity to be taught by highly committed and talented teachers in band, orchestra, photography, graphic design, shop, and beyond as well as being coached in sports by excellently educated and trained faculty and seeing theatre and music events that even rival some college and community performances. I can not stomach the thought that these professionals will be the first on the chopping block as their "unnecessary" classes are cut. Some have been serving our community for decades and should be celebrated rather than penalized, marginalized, and at worst, fired. 

 

I find it interesting that my husband and I, both university educators, along with public school teachers who are quickly becoming the educated working poor (as of April 1, with our extra "contributions" to our benefits and after six years of consistent cuts, we will actually be at a 15% total cut in our take home earnings which we must accept but find outrageous for the amount of work we do. We also work through the summer teaching with little to no "time off" as per some arguments.), are willing to add whatever monthly tax increase expense is necessary to further our children's education with no argument whatsoever.  As teachers, we are getting poorer and yet we are willing to make more sacrifices so that Nicolet can operate only at its current functioning level and not even get "better" or restore important functions that have already been cut. 

 

I am not alone in my opinions. Many others feel this way too and on April 5th, we will vote our conscience. I pay taxes too, perhaps even at a higher percentage of my earnings than many people who are wealthier than I. We are being forced into sudden cuts in our family budget that are going to hurt. Because of the budget "repair," my children are already going to have less of what was already far from extravagant. What's $60 more dollars if their class sizes remain tolerable and their teachers are paid what they deserve, what they earn? I do not see the referendum as a "handout." I believe it is a necessary measure in this climate of extreme politicization of the educational field, educators and the educated. While there may need to be change towards efficient use of funding (which I support), it can not happen in huge, sudden and monolithic cuts that leave communities reeling when there really are many other options for fiscal responsibility other than cutting already questionably supported schools and their staffs.  I don't see any room for progress there. 

 

Respectfully, 

Elizabeth Johnson

 

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