Holiday wish list for educators puts their students first

The Thanksgiving turkey and fixings now a memory, educator activists are turning their thoughts to their holiday wishes for their students.  But these “gifts” don’t come from Santa. This wish list is EdVotes’ take on what Congress, state lawmakers, and parents should get for students and schools this year.

Provide adequate school funding to provide all students the resources they need.

Educators strive every day, often against long odds, to provide quality services to increased numbers of disadvantaged students and students with special needs. Yet the federal government and lawmakers in state after state continue to reduce their investment in public schools.

At least 34 states are providing less funding per student for the 2013-14 school year than they did before the recession hit, and 13 of these states have cut per-student funding by more than 10 percent, according to a report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The federal government, meanwhile, has also decreased its commitment to students. This year, sequestration slashed funding across-the-board for education by nearly $3 billion even though schools are now serving nearly 6 million more students.

Ensure students have access to quality early education.

The research is clear — providing a high quality education for children before they turn five yields significant long-term benefits for the student and the economy. So what’s the federal government’s penny-wise, pound-foolish response? Sequester cuts have resulted in the elimination of Head Start services for 57,000 low-income children this school year, cutting 1.3 million days from Head Start center calendars and laying off or reducing pay for more than 18,000 employees. And just 14 states require school districts to offer full-day kindergarten.

Increase opportunities for parents and educators to work together.

Students benefit when parents and educators work together. Whether it’s passing bond measures in Laredo, Texas, to decrease class size and add classroom technology, reclaiming the board of education in Bridgeport, Connecticut, so that it is listens to educator and parent input, or holding a national day of action next week to demand a voice in decisions that affect students and schools, educators and parents recognize their power to advocate on behalf of students is greater when they work collectively.
Said Arizona teacher and National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel after last month’s Bridgeport school board elections: These elections “will determine whether parents and teachers have the chance to innovate and collaborate to increase students’ success and improve Bridgeport schools or whether special interests who push one-size-fits all reforms will continue to rule the day.”

Increase access to next-generation classroom technology to help ensure students develop the skills necessary to compete in the digital age.

In today’s hyper-connected world, giving schools access to the Internet is not enough. Students and educators require high-capacity broadband connectivity to engage in classroom activities, distance education, and blended, mobile and virtual learning opportunities. It’s for that reason that the National Education Association has urged the Federal Communications Commission to support President Obama’s proposal to expand and modernize the E-Rate program.

Pass immigration reform legislation so that the DREAMer students in our nation’s schools can reach their full potential.

Each year more than 60,000 DREAMer students, brought here as children, graduate from high school. For far too long, educators have witnessed the fear and distress our broken immigration system has caused our students, their families and our communities. These students are valedictorians, honors students, idealistic, hard-working youth. It’s time to make fair and comprehensive immigration reform a reality.

The Great Public Schools Network is a place where teachers, parents, school support professionals, and community members share ideas and resources to improve student success.  It is free and open to all!

Keep up to date on all the latest political and education news with our weekly Education Votes email. CLICK HERE ›