Friday, February 27, 2009

Is 50th Good for Any Child?

The right action of all of us is made up of the right action of each one of us. Unless each of us is determined to meet the duty that comes to us, we can have no right to expect that others will meet the duties that come to them.”

~ Calvin Coolidge

No one can deny that we are living in trying times. All around the country, our friends, relatives and acquaintances are suffering. On Monday, your friend was laid off. Last Friday, you heard about your relatives living without power and water as their homes are buried in ice. Two weeks ago, your neighbor left with his unit for a tour in Iraq. Your spouse is worried about their job security. Discount stores are advertising entire store clearance sales. We are all hurting in some way. If we are not yet hurting, we are just waiting for it to trickle down to our house, our job, our bank account. We know it is coming.

Your child’s school is not immune.

Duval County expects to suffer from a $150 million budget deficit for the 2009-2010 academic year. All the facts tell us there is NO WAY to “trim the fat” and balance this budget crisis without affecting the classroom. In short, your child's school will suffer.

Guidance and Media services could be reduced!
Valuable resources like Art, Music and PE may be cut!
Essential supplies and materials could disappear altogether!

It is important to understand that this problem, this CRISIS, is not limited to Duval County alone. This fiscal crisis is statewide. The state of Florida was ranked 47th out of 50 states in tax revenue prior to the passing of Amendment One, which served to further reduce our state taxes. Regarding the total amount of funds allocated and spent on education, the state of Florida is ranked 50th in the nation. I ask you, does this represent your priorities? I doubt it.

Article IX, Section I of the Florida Constitution guarantees that:

"The education of children is a fundamental value of the people of the State of Florida."

"It is, therefore, a paramount duty of the state to make adequate provision for … a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education …."

Are our legislators upholding the requirements of our state constitution?

As voters, we share a heavy burden. It is our responsibility to educate ourselves with accurate facts. It is our responsibility to make our voices heard. It is our responsibility to act.
It is our responsibility to advocate for our children. It is our responsibility to fight for their rights, for today and for their future. If not us, then who? If we do not meet our duties, we cannot expect others to meet theirs.

I urge you. Educate yourselves. Research the facts. Go to the source. Ask questions. Speak out. Make demands. Do not accept it as fact because others believe it to be true.

Ask yourself, is 50th good enough for your child?

If the answer is NO - contact our state's legislative delegation and ask for immediate help from one of these short term solutions:

1. One cent increase to the sales tax of Florida for just 3 years. It generates ten billion dollars over 3 years to plug the education funding cuts!

2. Please give flexibility to the school districts in the areas of categoricals, (SAI, Class Size, Instruction Materials, Reading, Safe Schools).

3. Please suspend unfunded mandates on the districts. (Examples: Transportation, Testing & Curriculum Requirements, Safety Nets, and Staffing Requirements.)

4. Please give flexibility of capital funds—so they can be used for General Revenue.

Ask them to find long term solutions to the critical funding situation in Florida and urge them to make public education a priority so that even our children's children can benefit from a right guaranteed them by our state constitution!

Monday, February 9, 2009

First Grader's New Favorite Author

Last week we began our new author study on Kevin Henkes. If you don't know this author, then you must check out his books to find out why first graders and teachers love him so much. Last week we began by reading one of my favorite books - Chrysanthemum. Our study began by making connections to this book and writing about these connections. Over the next 4 weeks we will continue to read many of his stories, write connections, discuss his books and characters, and complete retellings. We will learn to respond to literature in many ways. Below is a list of some of the books we will be reading throughout the study:
* Owen
* Julius the Baby of the World
* Wemberly Worried
* Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse
* Lilly's Big Day
* Sheila Rae, The Brave
* Chester's Way
* A Weekend With Wendell
* Jessica

Check out more books by Kevin Henkes. Watch for samples of student work!

Monday, February 2, 2009

First Graders - they are always so busy!

WOW...what a busy couple weeks for our first graders. Last week we had our annual First Grade Sleepover. We spent our time reading and writing about sleepovers! Our annual event happened on Friday and what a success it was. Check out the slide show on our class blog.

Today we celebrated out 100th day of school. Another great academic day centered around the number 100! We had lots of activities and a visit from Zero the Hero. We learned so much about life 100 years ago.

Now it is on to something new - our Kevin Henkes author study. We can't wait to show you everything we will learn.