Proposed Education Cuts Hurt Students: Cutting Electives Not The Answer

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There is no doubt that California has a problem with its budget. Governor Schwarzenegger and the legislature seem incapable of resolving the problem. Collectively, they are in charge of what happens, so collectively, this is on their shoulders.

It appears they don’t see it that way, and are content to point fingers rather than take real action. For too long they have avoided as many problems as possible, and pandered to vested interests, causing California voters to take matters into their own hands. This combination of events has put us into the bad situation we are in now.

Rather than make a serious attempt at resolving the situation, they now propose cuts that affect people they think don’t have a voice and therefore can’t fight back. This is weak leadership. Californians are hoping to see a change in this approach, but probably should not hold their breath waiting for it. It also may be too much to hope that California voters will remember this weakness at the next election.

Some real leadership right now would be a good thing.

I was surprised today, to see leadership coming out of the Folsom High School, from a student who loves school, and plans to attend college.

In a letter to the School District Superintendent, Patrick Godwin, this young lady has something the legislators appear to lack – a vision of the future.

In her own words:

Dear Mr. Godwin;

My name is Samia Ahmed. I am currently a student at Folsom High School and will be a junior next year. First, let me say, I love school! This is why I feel that I have to send you this e-mail.

I am fearful that my electives and the electives of my peers and underclassmen will be cut next year. I received two letters in May, both of which were from my elective classes (French 2 and Concert Choir). I have chosen to continue both classes because I want to minor in language at college. Music is my release and balances my academic courses and keeps me sane. Also, it gives me the chance to perform and travel. In addition, it also helps students overcome their fears of presenting and it helps build confidence. These qualities can be applied to life and the workplace. My love of choir started in fourth grade; I took General Music. Then I graduated onto the Sutter Middle School choir, conducted and taught by Ms. Ekroth-Saxon. My second letter came from music. Please do not cut electives. For some students, electives are the only reason they come to school. If electives are cut, I fear that the high school drop-out rate will skyrocket.

Counselors are extremely important at all levels of education. This past year, I had my sophomore conference. At which time, I learned some very vital information about college and how to get there. So if our counselors are gone, can I come to you for help? Will you help me choose my classes? Will you mentor and advise me? Will you help me fill out forms and applications for grants and scholarships? Will you be there for me if my grades slip (which I hope they do not)? Please, please, please, save our counselors!

Thomas Paine once said, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” I acquired this quote while doing the summer reading for Advanced Placement US History. I know that the economy is down and many budgets have been cut. Sacrifices will have to be made, but please remember that the decisions you make will most definitely affect my life and the lives of future and present students.

The option to attend community college is not viable. In addition to taking classes off campus and incurring costs for transportation, tuition fees, and books, community colleges are impacted and courses unavailable.

Competition for entrance into a 4-year college is fierce and intense. If I do not have AP and elective courses it will make me less competitive; I am currently on track to be one of Folsom High’s most competitive students in the college applicant pool my senior year. Will you write a note on the bottom of my college application explaining my deficiencies? By the way, I really would like a senior year.

Yours truly,

Samia J. Ahmed

Folsom High School student

Incoming junior

I don’t know Patrick Godwin and these comments aren’t aimed at him specifically. All Superintendents need to stand up for their students, against the vested interests and the legislature. The legislators must stop playing games, treating the California treasury as an ATM and using creative accounting.

We know a lot of money is going into education, the question is – where is it going? On the face of it, without following the money trail, it seems to be going to the wrong places, because the cuts are a drop in the ocean and they are aimed at the wrong place. Cutting electives and other items at the bottom level doesn’t seem like the right action to take.

Californians need to swap their apathy for action, legislators need to swap their pandering to vested interests for positive action for the good of the state and we all need to follow that money trail.

Are you a California student? NewsBlaze wants to hear from you.

Are you a California parent? NewsBlaze wants to hear from you.

If you understand the money trail, we want to hear from you.

If you have a solution to the education part of this problem, we want to hear from you.

Alan Gray is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of NewsBlaze Daily News and other online newspapers. He prefers to edit, rather than write, but sometimes an issue rears it’s head and makes him start pounding the keyboard. Alan has a fascination with making video and video editing, so watch out if he points his Canon 7d in your direction.