Letter: A nationwide crisis in our schools

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By The Staff

I’m sure you’ve seen and read many news reports lately regarding the crisis our schools are facing nationally and locally. The lack of money to support our current educational system is most often the major concern. Approximately $98 billion in stimulus funding was provided states to support education throughout the nation. New Mexico also received support from the stimulus monies. When the stimulus monies run out this next year, some states are projecting a meltdown of schools and universities. Locally, we are looking at a 2 percent to 4 percent reduction in school budgets. The impact on our teachers will be greater as they may be facing reductions in salaries and increases in health insurance and pension contributions.   The picture is not good and some recommendations at the national level include: • Reducing staff (generally 85 percent of most budgets). • Increasing class size. • Closing underutilized schools (some districts have smaller numbers of students than previous years). • Reducing the number of school day hours. • Reducing the number of extracurricular activities. Money is not the only problem.  The lack of leadership at board levels, at administrative levels and in classrooms contribute to the problem even more than the lack of money.  There are those board members, administrators and teachers who deserve our gratitude for not giving up. They work under difficult circumstances and with one ultimate goal: providing students a quality education.  We should recognize and support these individuals but we should not become passive to the problems they face. We should make sure teachers have the support of parents, administrators and boards to teach the values and wealth of knowledge that makes us better as a people.    Everyone is impacted by the lack of a quality educational system. If you don’t believe that, consider economic and social conditions in countries and communities that neglect their responsibilities to their schools. And, yes, the greatest champions any child can have for their education are caring parents.  We have enormous opportunities to have the best educational system in the state. We certainly don’t lack resources with New Mexico Highlands University and Luna Community College in our backyards. Some of you are involved and I hope more people would voice their concerns to our two school boards. If you’re not already involved, please consider participating in PTOs, PTAs and school board meetings.   One group that is trying to have a positive impact is the Community Committee for Better Schools.  If you have interest in this group, please contact me. Thanks, and remember, change is not easy but it is sometimes necessary. Felix Alderete

Las Vegas