The topic was fair and equitable funding for schools in NYS and the elimination of the GEA. It was not a new topic of discussion for the attendees. These are people who have been fighting and struggling for their schools and communities since the GEA came into play in 2010. We were told it would be for one year, we are now going on year five.
One of the panelists spoke about things that that schools have done in order to cut costs. The list was long, eye-opening and horrifying. What was worse, though, was having the person sitting next to me turn and say "One school here has done all of those things, not just one or two, Minerva has done all of these, and more” Such a true statement. Bigger schools have now gone from feeling pinched to getting squeezed and are getting worried. They are where MCS was last year and the year before that.
I started to think about MCS and how our small size makes us barely a blip on NYSED's, NYSUT's the Governor's or our Legislator's radars. MCS did an incredible job last year being heard, we were the Who's on the dust speck. We also were and sadly remain, the low man on the totem pole, the guy who always seems to come in last, the one who gets the loose change at the end of the NYS budget cycle. Incredibly we were also the successful school, the one whose test scores were always at or above the state average, the one where students had access to college courses, distance learning, sports, music and more. MCS was and is working very hard to ensure our students receive the well rounded education they deserve even after losing so much.
Here is the thing though, MCS was pretty much told through policy and rhetoric that it did not matter how successful we were, there were bigger problems in NYS, MCS was going fall in line or simply fall. The message was pretty clear at least to me. MCS is small and does not count.
MCS does count, its students count and its faculty, staff, administration, school board and community count. The fact of the matter is though, when the low man on the totem pole falls, the entire pole comes crashing down. It's something called the ripple effect, I teach it to my students and it is a lesson that I think a few more important people with voices that can be heard need to learn.
The "tiny schools" of NYS are the temperature gauge, the mood ring, the first level of “Defense Against the Dark Arts" When the "tiny schools" are gone all of that responsibility moves up to the small schools, and if they fail to hold out, well then the large schools become the bastion. By this time though, the infantry is gone and the responsibility has become massive and crushing and they start praying for miracles.
MCS has been praying for a miracle for years; I think we must have had a few because we are still here and we are still fighting.
Join us in fighting for our students, schools and communities.
- Tweeting using the hash tag #standup4upstate
- Contact your politicians
- Check out this advocacy toolkit (flash version / PDF version )provided by the SU4US team
- Attend School Board and Budget Workshops / get the facts
- Learn About the Issues