Cutting Our Future

State legislature prepares major budget cuts to Iowa public schools

Nathan Sheeley, Writer

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$2 million. That is the price that the state of Iowa has put on the future of thousands of children being educated through the Cedar Rapids Community School District. Our own governor has proposed a deal that would cut the NECESSARY funding needed to MAINTAIN the condition and educational qualities of our schools, let alone allow for growth and further opportunity. The estimated amount of state-allocated money awarded to schools to merely maintain these facilities is 3.72%, as reported by our very own school district. Governor Branstad has proposed a deal that would eliminate millions of dollars in necessary state funding to our public schools, cutting it to 2.45%.

As young, ambitious students with bright futures, we cannot merely accept these budget cuts. This is not simply a complaint but rather a call to action. A call to action for the thousands of students and teachers being negatively impacted by these budget cuts. As our State legislature and lawmakers forget us, so does the rest of America. Instead of our lawmakers providing for our schools, they are rejecting them, simultaneously rejecting thousands of young children.

Who is going to tell these young children why they are unable to get help during class because their teacher was laid off due to these budget cuts? Who is going to tell them that their future was sold away for two million dollars? Who is going to explain to the 16,147 children in my school district why they must settle for a mediocre education that does not truly challenge them to be the best they can be? Who will walk into the rooms of the 792 preschool students in my district, and explain to them why they will grow up with a second-tier education, subject to an undistinguished and unfulfilled academic career highlighted by mediocrity.

Our very own state slogan says it all, ‘Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain.’ What about the inalienable human rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? How can we strive for happiness while our children are suffering from a subpar education? Who is going to look into the faces of the teachers being laid off, people who live their lives dedicated to bettering the status of our proud state that they can’t provide for their children? These budget cuts do not promote excellence, they hinder it. They do not strive for success, they obstruct it. They do not prepare us for a bright future, they serve as a detrimental tool to ensure an inferior education.

Education is the most powerful tool in the world. This is not merely an apparition of wishful thinking, but rather a beaming reality that must be heard and understood. Politicians wonder why America continues to fall behind on the global educational stage. State educational spending fell from 30% in 2000 to 28% in 2010. We are allocating money elsewhere, taking it away from our biggest asset. Iowa ranks 14th in the United States amongst ACT scores. Defunding our public schools will have an adverse impact on these ACT scores.

We are struggling.  The teachers and students of these public schools that suffer from these budget cuts are struggling. The politicians who impose these budget cuts are putting a price on the future of each and every child educated throughout the public school system in the state of Iowa, and we cannot tolerate it. We must stand up to fight back against this corruption, for it is the only way we can truly achieve a valuable education and truly prepare ourselves for the real world.

These politicians have not experienced the true greatness and value that comes from alternative programs offered in many public schools. These politicians do not see the way a student’s eyes light up when they find out they are going to be the lead role in the upcoming featured school production. These politicians do not see what we see as students, yet they feel as if they have the power to price our future. To price our passions, hopes, and dreams. To price intangible things that can only be acquired through the close partnerships that emerge through programs that are most often threatened by budget cuts, most notably the fine arts.

These politicians do not see the intricate, creative, and stunning artwork produced by students. These politicians do not see students, but rather numbers. They do not see educators who dedicate their profession to promoting a safe and willful environment to learn. No, they do not see any of this. Rather, they see price tags and money bags through the halls.

These politicians stand with the futures of thousands of children in their hands, and they are using the metaphorical scissors of greed and insensitivity to cut what they see as a simple budget, but what we see as our future, our hopes, and our dreams. For these politicians, we have but one desperate plea. Help us.

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