Friday, April 25, 2008


If only the cost of health insurance and access to health care were all we had to worry about. Sadly, for as many health insurance stories as we have been collecting, the other not-so-little black raincloud hovering over us is the budget. As I get phone calls, read parent list-serves, and hear the site council stories, all I can think of is what I learned in science about hypothermia.

Our bodies react to hypothermia in a fascinating and efficient way. As the body temperature drops, fingers and toes--once crucial to balance, mobility, agility and even communication-- are sacrificed to move any meaningful body heat to our core area to just keep us alive.

In advanced hypothermia our core body area slowly and methodically continues to shut down. A reluctant trade-off to continue subsisting--to at least stay alive-- while abandoning quality of life and body functions that make us thrive.

Our schools are suffering from funding hypothermia. It is fascinating how schools find ways to efficiently subsist, but we are losing our ability to balance. Our agility at meeting the broadest range of needs and learning styles in our students is deteriorating.
  • We are cutting SEM specialists, G/T coordinators, and special education EAs and TAs.
  • We trade trained, licensed, high-quality library/media specialists for "library volunteers."
  • We are abandoning smaller class sizes and parent liaisons.
  • We are doing unspeakable things to the working conditions of our students and our colleagues.

Site councils have left behind Solomon-like decisions and have been forced to move on to ranking jobs in a school like those body systems. Who still has the heart for this work, pun intended?

And who isn't violently shivering at the thought?

We need a healthy, sustainable funding formula that meets the comprehensive mission of a high-quality public school system for every child across St. Paul and Minnesota.

It is time to rage, rage against the dying of the light.

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