Dear Governor Dayton:
I am writing to you as a father and citizen to strongly urge you to block efforts at the capitol to shift school funding away from the central cities (St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Duluth) as it will adversely impact the children in those districts. As a parent of a first grade child in the St. Paul school district I have seen first hand the tough job that teachers face. In my son’s classroom he and five other children are reading at a 3rd grade level and doing advanced math, in the same classroom there are children for whom English is not their first language. The diversity within the school district is amazing and also challenging.
Because of the proposed cuts his first grade teacher won’t be in the classroom next year. This is a great loss and shows first hand the impact that continuous cuts to our education system can have. First grade classrooms will increase by 3 or 4 children per teacher. This is in first grade when children still require a lot of help in social interaction, and this is a time when kids can become excited about learning, given the right environment and teacher.
Schools in the urban cores educate the highest concentrations of poor, special education and non-English speaking students. The cost of teaching these students is much higher and they often require far more services. We need to strive to educate all children to the highest standard, and creating larger classrooms is not the way to do that. It is the individual attention that a teacher gives that can make all the difference and lead to a lifetime of learning.
We should also not forget that an equal education is written directly into the Minnesota Constitution:
Section 1. UNIFORM SYSTEM OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS. The stability of a republican form of government depending mainly upon the intelligence of the people, it is the duty of the legislature to establish a general and uniform system of public schools. The legislature shall make such provisions by taxation or otherwise as will secure a thorough and efficient system of public schools throughout the state.
Investment in the education of our children is the path to a strong economy and citizenry. Taking money away from the schools that educate our most vulnerable children destroys the promise that we have made to all of our children.