Opinion

Crucial time to stand up for our schools | GUEST OP

Auburn Mayor Pete Lewis, Auburn School District Dr. Kip Herren joined Washington Elementary School Principal Pauline Thomas, teachers, staff, as well as other school district and city leaders on Monday in a show of support for public education in wake of possible state budget cuts.  - Mark Klaas/Auburn Reporter
Auburn Mayor Pete Lewis, Auburn School District Dr. Kip Herren joined Washington Elementary School Principal Pauline Thomas, teachers, staff, as well as other school district and city leaders on Monday in a show of support for public education in wake of possible state budget cuts.
— image credit: Mark Klaas/Auburn Reporter

BY CATHY dEJONG
For the Auburn Reporter

Were you seeing red on Monday? It wasn't an optical illusion, and your eyes weren't playing tricks on you.

On Monday, the entire educational community in Auburn, including educators, support staff, administrators and our local PTA members participated in "Wear Red for Public Ed" to highlight the importance of funding public education in our state

For decades, Washington schools have ranked among the nation's finest. Students in the Auburn School District have made exceptional gains in mathematics, reading and program participation during the 2010-2011 school year. The achievement scores in spring 2011 indicate that more students of diverse populations participated in honors programs; and more students graduated on time.

The school district provides a wide array of advanced placement (AP), advanced career and technical education (CTE) and honors courses. These programs provide students with learning opportunities beyond the state proficiency standards.

The Auburn School District and the Auburn Education Association partnered together on Nov. 28 because we believe that school funding should be protected, so that our students continue to have the quality education they deserve. But after more than $2.5 billion in recent school funding cuts, new proposals could wipe out another $1 billion or more in funding, tying the hands of educators and depriving students of a well-rounded education.

Additional funding cuts could mean increased class sizes, potential layoffs of certificated and classified faculty, dramatically reduced preschool opportunities and the end of all-day kindergarten. Proposals include potential cuts to school levy equalization.

In Auburn, that cut would mean a loss of $3,300,000 in funding. The inequitable cuts would be devastating; Auburn students who are in school today will not get a second chance at a good education.

The Auburn School District and the Auburn Education Association value the strong support that the employees, families and community members have in the Auburn School District. We all must be held accountable, not just educators, students and parents, but also the elected officials who must respect Washington's long-standing commitment to education.

Our legislators have the final decision on what cuts are made. It's imperative that our community stand together and stand strong for high quality Auburn public schools.

Cathy deJong is president of the Auburn Education Association.

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