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It's Time to Start Coloring Outside of the Lines

With the rising costs for public education, funding is few and far between. I am passionate about making an effort to aid this unfortunate circumstance; let's do something together!

Normally, my blog posts are about business and business lessons, and while this post can be applied to the business world, this blog is going to be a bit different.

What I really want to talk about today is something that means a lot to me. That subject is education, and specifically public education in my town, Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. You see, Shrewsbury is going through what many towns and school districts are going through around the country and that is rising costs for public education (and other services like Fire and Police) with no way to fund them.

I am very passionate about the schools both because I have two children in the system and because I have a spouse who is an elementary school teacher. While my husband doesn't work in Shrewsbury, I feel for the plight of the modern public educator in all areas.

In my town of Shrewsbury, we have an approximately 4 million dollar deficit between what the school department needs to start restoring services that were cut last year (21 teaching positions, books, and the list goes on and on) and what they have to operate with. There are many well-meaning citizens in town that have opinions on the subject that run the gamut, from; "Talk to the state as it’s the unfunded mandates that are killing us," to "The teachers unions and their salaries are killing us," to "I think teachers should be compensated more like private sector jobs," and "We will never get an override to pass." All valid points, but all points that don't do anything to help solve the issue. I'm really getting sick of hearing rhetoric without a solution stated. Go ahead and raise your point and then tell me what we CAN DO to fix the problem. I had a boss once who would never let us come into his office with a problem unless we also had a solution. Effective, I'd say! Talking about the issues and assigning blame isn't going to help anyone…it kind of reminds me of….Washington…..and as the title of this blog states, it's time to start coloring outside of the lines.

Why do we have to wait to get a bill for increased taxes to start contributing to the school fund? Raise your own taxes. If you care about our children's education NOW, like right now, when the schools need you, then cut a check. If you have faith in the school administration you don't need to question where or how the funds are going to be used. You CAN do something to help and you can make a difference. If you don't care, don't pay attention and don't write a check. Whether you can afford $5 or $5000, I bet if enough people decided to come together and take care of our own we could make a difference. Today I dropped off a $500 check to the gift fund for my children's school so the teachers could write PO's against it for things they need and supplies. It's time to stop complaining and touting big ideas that take forever to implement and to start doing something. Do anything you can. Whether you think it's too small to make a difference or not, the gesture sends a message and helps the cause, whatever your cause is. So I ask you - what are you going to do today to contribute to an actual solution instead of simply complaining about a problem?

​PS - If you live near Shrewsbury, I'd love to invite you to an event to benefit the schools at my home: www.ShrewsburyGardenParty.com Let's do something together!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Ted March 12, 2013 at 04:07 AM
Close the senior center and direct that money to hiring a few teachers. We need to get out of the social service industry.
SameOld March 12, 2013 at 07:05 PM
China has class sizes in the mid to high 30's. They are kicking out butt when it comes to education. Why is higher class sizes an issue? Here's a question, are the Chinese students all using IPads? I wonder if the IPad sounds like a great new idea but I wonder if the countries that score higher than us are using them.
Weining Wang March 14, 2013 at 06:02 PM
I think we have to be realistic on the whole issue. We are here to find a resolution to fix our problem. So what is our problem? It is as clear as Heather stated, the low tax rate in Shrewsbury is the problem. If our school system goes down, your home value will also go down. This is real-estate 101.
Ron king March 14, 2013 at 08:55 PM
WW, Not true all towns are going threw this same thing. Let us step up and be inventive. See Steve Levine's Solutions. First, we need to follow the lead of the large businesses that have managed to survive, by innovating what we do, in order to enable fewer people to do the job just as well, if not better. This will require doing things which have not been done here in Shrewsbury, some of which will sound radical, but all of which is already been done in other districts, from moving to homogenous student groupings as early as elementary school, to implementing honors programs to limit the exodus to charter schools, to having some high level classes taught in lecture hall style, to bringing in unpaid interns as teaching assistants, and using online coursework to improve offerings. Secondly, we need to reach out to all of the members of our workforce for salary concessions, (and no I am not anti-teacher…I love and respect teachers more than you can possibly imagine!) helping them to understand that while they may make a tiny bit less, class sizes will make work life easier, and they will still have a job, as well as changing the entire system of compensation to one based on things other than simple longevity, as is currently being proposed in many areas from Wisconsin to New York City. This saved some of the auto makers and airlines, long enough for them to retool their systems and emerge stronger than ever.
Weining Wang March 14, 2013 at 09:36 PM
Ron King, I would have to admit that this time, your response sounds more reasonable and more realistic. I respectfully agree with what you brought up. The reason I support override 2 1/2 is because we are now in a critical moment for the school budget crisis. I do know this is only a temporary relief if we can pass it. We have to do what you suggested, to seek a long term and permanent solution. It is for sure take much longer time to see the results. Am I missing something here? To your previous post, I don't think anyone would like to pay a higher tax. You made a perfect point. Howerver, unlike you, my daughter is attending the Sherwood Middle School. She likes the school and teachers there. It is my responsibility to make sure she can get the best school as much as we can afford. I really want to make a case here to help our school, fire department and police department, and ultimately, my family will also get what we deserved as Shrewsbury residents. I hope we can find some common ground on the issue. Afterall, Shrewsbury is our town. Better school is our future.

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