Letter: Elected officials are missing the point on education spending

To the Editor:

I am hearing our elected officials again pointing fingers at education supporters in this town. Our Republican leadership is now trying to reframe the argument to how much money is spent per pupil. I am sure they will try to keep the focus on this argument because they don't want anyone to know what is really going on in our schools.They will ask, well how much is enough?  How much should we spend on each student? But they are missing the whole point. The point is, what are our peer towns offering their students that we do not? That is the question! And no one in this town is going to like the answer.The answer is, those towns are offering foreign language much earlier than 6th grade, where most towns  start in Kindergarten. They are offering new STEM integrated curriculum. They are offering coding. They are offering a wide selection and vast AP course offerings. They are offering a much more reasonable pay to play fee. For far too long, we have skated by and have not allocated money to invest in our schools. We haven't updated the middle school curriculum in years. Years. We have not offered a new program since full day kindergarten. We are dreadfully behind in technology curriculum. We do not have enough AP class sections available to accommodate the amount of students who wish to attend. And the result of the lack of investment in our schools?  We are dead last in our eighth grade SBAC scores. Our SAT scores are at the bottom compared to our peers. Our graduating seniors are not getting into their college or university first choice.

Our neighboring towns and those in our peer group recognize that education has changed quite a bit over the years and if they don't keep up with it, everyone will move on without them. They are fully capable of seeing the big picture and know that a strong education system is good for all those in town. Strong schools attract families. Families spend money in town. They hire contractors and landscapers. They shop locally as much as possible. They go out to eat in neighborhood restaurants. And the results? Home values in other towns have rebounded very well since the housing crisis. While they are all succeeding, we are floundering.

We need change and we need it now. It's not too late to change course, but it will require the parents in this town to want the change and start demanding it now.
Kathy Champion