OPINION: District 51 kids deserve better than partisan political agendas, ideologies | PostIndependent.com

OPINION: District 51 kids deserve better than partisan political agendas, ideologies

Joe & Linda Skinner
Free Press Opinion Columnists
Joe Skinner
Staff Photo |

H E SAID: The recent drama is Washington hasn’t resolved anything. The last few weeks, the Tea Party kept changing the agenda of the dispute from eliminating Obamacare, to eliminating perks for Congress, to finally to balancing the budget. Now we are guaranteed another three months of uncertainty, debate and posturing over what the newly appointed budget committee will do, enough time for all sides to draw the same unacceptable lines in the sand.

The Vanguard Group has estimated that the Congressional bickering has imposed on the economy a $260 billion uncertainty tax that has cost up to one million new jobs. Unfortunately, many of our foreign friends have summed up their view of US politics — we are all idiots.

Trust in our role as the world’s banker and belief that foreign money in our stock market is safe will slowly erode away as we prove we cannot be trusted to solve our own problems, let alone handle their money.

SHE SAID: Why are you giving the Tea Party legitimacy by calling it a “party”? It is a group of disgruntled folks who play by their own set of rules. The moderate portion of the Republican Party better wake up and take action or lose their agenda totally to the extremists.

The District 51 School Board election is a microcosm of what is occurring at the national level. People driven by ideology, instead of knowledge, have no business running an enterprise that so impacts this community’s future. It is easy to make pronouncements about what textbook should be used or what teachers should do in a classroom. What is not easy is making workable decisions that serve the students well and aid the teachers in their daunting job.

What difference would vouchers make here in the valley? Parents already have the option of school of choice within the public schools. There are charter schools and alternative schools that offer options for those students who are not traditional students or who want more rigorous standards. Holy Family and other church-based schools might benefit some from vouchers, but they cannot absorb many students.

Billionaire Ed McVaney may have eyes on a new market here if he pads the schools board with the candidates he might have corrupted with his money, but it is a very limited market. I challenge all of those who think they have answers about how education should be delivered in District 51 to visit the schools and see what is really happening.

Teaching is tremendously challenging, both mentally and physically. Elementary teachers are expected to individualize instruction in four different subject areas for up to 28 diverse learners with a huge range of abilities. Middle school and high school teachers who specialize in subjects face the same challenge of individualization for five classes of up to 30 students each a day. I’ve been in some classrooms where there are not enough desks or texts for the students.

What is also lacking is a sense of respect or honor toward education on the part of the community and many parents. We don’t risk our lives attending school like Afghani girls do, but nonetheless, we should value what is being offered. Not having children in school is not an acceptable excuse for not caring enough to invest time and taxes into providing quality local schools. Every person in the community should care about the quality of education here.

HE SAID: The problems facing our school district are many and some of the main concerns are the unfunded directives from Congress and the Colorado Legislature on how to do so many things in the classroom. Regressing to partisan politics will only aggravate a difficult situation if Congress is any example of how we function in a partisan environment. Additionally, casting a partisan vote because your party tells you to is just an abrogation of your responsibility to be an educated voter, no matter which side you favor. It’s all about the quality of life for kids and they deserve better than to be victims of partisan politics.

The Skinners agree with the sentiments expressed by British journalist, Peter Hitchens – “Is there any point in public debate in a society where hardly anyone has been taught how to think, while millions have been taught what to think?” and hope you all will exercise a truly independent, educated vote in the School Board election. They can be reached at jlajtls@bresnan.net.

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