Recently the Olympia School District has been called upon to make budget cuts in the $2 million dollar range for the 2008-2009 school years.
Every school district in the country has eventually been forced to make sacrifices and not only is it appalling; it is tearing apart our foundation as a nation. Why is it that when government needs more money in the collection plate, the first thing they punish is schools?
Our nation has been dealing with overcrowded schools for 50 years now. I recently saw an old documentary on the Kennedys and there was JFK speaking eloquently on the subject of overcrowded classrooms. It was a problem in the ‘60s and it is worse than ever now: physical-education classes, hot lunches, busing, art, and drama are always the first things to get the axe. Our government tears at this like a Christmas turkey, and soon nothing will be left but a rotting carcass of broken dreams.
We are continuing down a path that will lead us to a desperate and uninspired future workforce, whose only goal will be to stay off welfare.
Remember that old bumper sticker which said “It will be a great day in the nation when the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a Bomber?” What has happened to that notion?
I think we need to get our priorities straight in this country. Let’s figure out ways to get money into the schools rather than cutting their programs. I am not suggesting we cut our national defense. As a former member of the Navy reserves, I say we need to continue to build up our armed forces, to keep us safe from all enemies, foreign and domestic.
But when the Mariners were about to leave Seattle for greener pastures a few years back, everyone and their brother came up with new and different ways to keep the team here and got it done. Now when a school district is in trouble and needs money, everyone suddenly can’t find their wallet.
I propose that we ask our professional sports franchises to open up their checkbooks and give back to the communities what they have taken from us for so many years.
I don’t think it would kill Nintendo to give 10 cents on every beverage sold at Mariners games directly to our state school systems. That 32-ounce soda you washed down the garlic fries in the third inning cost all of 20 cents to make. Charging me $4.75 for something that costs 20 cents to make sounds to me like you are still making a pretty good profit.
If all sports franchises did this, our schools could become what we’ve always asked of them. A place to dream, plan and prepare for your future. Teachers who are paid a decent wage. And finally a nurturing environment for our kids to use before they step into the real world of mortgages, low monthly payments and responsibility.
If we can’t find the money to keep our schools and classrooms running and continue to bury our heads in the sand every time funding questions come up for this issue, we might as well forget teaching our kids the basics (as we already have) and teach them the one and only phrase they will need to know when and if they graduate.
“Do you want fries with that?”
Todd Nuttman is a local column writer for the Kent Reporter. Send replies to Editor Laura Pierce at firstname.lastname@example.org