Thursday, November 3, 2011

The basics of education

My family has moved to a small town in Alabama. We chose our location after reading reviews on Great Schools and actually touring and interview prospective schools. The school system that we chose does not have much money but they have great results. In the Junior High, 96-97% of the students passed the state exams. That is quite impressive considering they don't have enough books in some of the classes for the kids to take home each night.
We moved from a great school system in Indiana that seemed to have enough money to do whatever they wanted. In fact, they voted a tax raise just to make sure that the schools were up to standards of the community. That school system was well equipped for whatever they needed. I am not saying that it was lavish, just well equipped with computers and other equipment. I do miss some of the opportunities that were provided there.
I subbed today again in one of our schools in Alabama. The teachers just took a 2% pay cut and still don't have the same equipment that I have seen up North. The buildings are old and tired. The classrooms have repair issues but nothing that puts a child in harms way. They are doing fundraisers for computers, software and smart boards. The athletic teams are not at all subsidized by the schools and neither are any other activities. Basically, this school system has no money to spare. However, the kids keep doing their thing and finding success in whatever they do.
Our fundraisers are quite successful. Families are doing what they can to help out. I remember at the back to school night, families were walking around with cases of printer paper, big bottles of hand sanitizer and rolls of paper towels. They were handing them out to any teacher who needed them. That is definitely team spirit.
The big city just south of me in now selling their unused school buildings to raise funds for their kids. Talk about using your resources wisely.
I guess I am getting my own education here. I am not bashing my old school system by any means. If fact, I wish my new school could enjoy such rewards, but they won't. Income is lower here and the economy has had a big impact here. All we can do here is go back to our basics in education, reading, writing and arithmetic. So far it seems to be working. 97% is a nice number to be proud of.

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