Educating public of crisis crucial

Published 9:08 pm Monday, March 15, 2010

“These are our children, who we owe a good education,” Windsor council member Greg Willis said during a recent meeting. “We have a great school system that’s working well. We need to look for other ways to solve this problem,” another council member, Carita Richardson, said.

No matter the size of a city, town or state, the battle over funding for public education has appeared to reach an all-time fever pitch. It is facing the kind of funding cuts, restructuring and overall economic challenges that could ultimately shake the foundation of the public education system as we know it.

Isle of Wight County is moving closer to a decision to shut down Windsor Middle School, Suffolk Public Schools have discussed the idea of shuttering as many as three schools, and even big cities such as Kansas City, have begun shutting down as many as half of their schools.

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But what is interesting to many is the fact that if public education is facing a funding crisis and there appears to be so much of a public outcry on saving programs, schools and jobs, then where are the calls for finding ways to restructure education funding or, gasp, finding ways to increase taxes?

The answer to that is that the public has become quite skeptical of governmental funding at any level and at every specialty. Citizens have far too often read stories of public corruption and waste by our elected leaders to hardly ever agree to pay more in taxes. Our trust has been broken too many times.

The public sees bureaucracy and questionable spending in public schools and becomes weary of calls by its leaders that more funding it needed.

Again, our trust has been broken too many times.

But what is different about this fiscal crisis is that it is, without question, real. It is very much a reality and not the hyped up “end of the world” shouts from atop the public education mountain.

You will be hard pressed to find a person who does not believe the education of our children is not of the utmost importance. But, you will find it even harder to find a person who does not believe more fiscal responsibility is needed at every level of government.

The answer to better-funded education is to better educate the residents of Suffolk, Virginia and the United States. Our leaders must better prove the money is needed and – more important – prove any wasted spending is eliminated or at the very leaves curtailed.

Our children deserve the best education system we can provide – and maybe even more. But before we can get to that point, the public’s trust must be renewed.