Letter: Tiverton teacher layoffs reveal education funding flaws

Posted 6/3/20

To the editor:

I was deeply saddened to read about the large number of teachers receiving notices from the Tiverton school department.  My heart goes out to those teachers, their families and …

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Letter: Tiverton teacher layoffs reveal education funding flaws

Posted

To the editor:

I was deeply saddened to read about the large number of teachers receiving notices from the Tiverton school department.  My heart goes out to those teachers, their families and to the students that will ultimately pay the price. The underfunding of public education on federal, state and town levels is wreaking havoc on our communities and is laying the burden at the feet of our children.   

Our teachers are the life and breath of the future of our community.  They not only provide our children with education, but are there for them to act as role models, to provide guidance and to comfort them. They open our children’s eyes to help them see things from a different point of view, to introduce them to new ideas and to help them expand their imagination. They help our children build on their strengths and overcome challenges.  They are dedicated to making our children’s lives better. In these past weeks of distance learning teachers have shown incredible creativity and resilience, and parents have had a window into just how important teachers are to the success and growth of students. 

We need to invest in education for our children to provide them with a base to become more successful citizens, because today’s children will become tomorrow’s leaders. Investing in education improves quality of life and creates opportunity for advancement for our children and for our communities. In the words of Marian Wright Edelman, “Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it.“  

It is inexcusable that Rhode Island’s elected officials have not prioritized the appropriate funding of our schools.  In fact, in 1995, the Rhode Island Supreme Court decided that the state constitution does not provide children with a right to a quality education. And so, because the state provides inadequate resources for education, school districts have had to rely too heavily on property taxes to cover the cost of this essential need. This results in unequal education access across different communities, and unnecessary budgeting vulnerabilities, as is highlighted by this mass firing in Tiverton.  Without a constitutional amendment explicitly providing all students with a right to a quality education, our elected officials can continue to underfund Rhode Island’s schools, failing to provide our children with the level of education they deserve. 

It is time for all of us to recognize the essential need for quality education, to make quality education a right for our students and to ensure that we are providing the resources to our communities to make it happen. 

Michelle McGaw

Portsmouth

Ms. McGaw is a candidate for House District 71 state representative — Tiverton, Little Compton, Portsmouth.

 

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.