The erosion of education
We are facing yet another educational budget crisis. Severe and dramatic cuts are imminent.
I understand the desire to stay under the spending cap and the burden placed on homeowners. However, as an educator in Nashua with more than two decades of experience, I also understand the continued erosion of education may likely result in the continued loss of valued educators, lessening our ability to attract dynamic businesses to the area, lower home values and, worse of all, less effective and enduring education for our students.
I chose the word erosion because we have always known that there isn’t a dramatic end to things, but a slow and painful slide into obscurity. TS Eliot wrote, "This is the way the world ends/Not with a bang but a whimper." Neil Young warned us that rust never sleeps. Joseph Conrad called it, "…a flabby, pretending, weak-eyed devil of a rapacious and pitiless folly."
Cutting line items is easy. Make cuts and numbers go down. Those cutters cut but they do not have to actually work with those decisions. The educators, parents and students who have to live with those cuts know that there are daily terrible consequences.
Cut custodians and erode functionality. Schools become dirtier and decrepit. Students don’t interact with those familiar faces that keep things clean and running, whose names they know.
Cut secretaries and erode operation. The needs of parents, students and staff go unfulfilled. Everything runs slower, less efficiently.
Cut administrators and erode their success as both disciplinarians and educational leaders. Force them to triage discipline and compromise values, burnout, then flee.
Cut teachers and erode learning. Classes swell, the vital interpersonal interaction lessens, survival means an assembly line approach to your child.
Cut the arts and electives and erode the heart and soul of learning.
Money is important, but how does saving money help us if we only save money? I ask people to consider the value as much as the cost. Consider education an investment not an expenditure. Consider that Wall Street thrives when investment thrives. Stocks fail when funding is pulled.
The "do more with less" mentality has strained education to the breaking point. When was the last time Nashua High School North or South was listed as one of the top 50 high schools in the state? I fear that there has never been a worse time for education in the modern world. I hope Nashua decides to reverse this trend.
Walter Freeman, of Merrimack, is an English teacher at Nashua North High School. He has taught for 28 years, 23 in Nashua.