Holly Stuber: ‘An educated populace does benefit us all’

Once again, Barry Goldstein takes an opportunity to pontificate about the AJUSD override campaign with an inaccurate portrayal (“Teachers haven’t quit from three other failed overrides” in the Oct. 21, 2015, issue). Mr. Goldstein, if you think your education in the 1950s can be compared to schools today, you live in Fantasyland.

For the record, I have no vested interest in AJUSD other than the fact that I live in this community.

You ask not to be told that teachers will leave (I am sorry if you are not interested in facts). The fact is that since 2008, approximately 200 positions have been cut from the district and many of those who left were, in fact, teachers. For exact numbers you may contact the district office and I am sure they can make those figures available to you.

You state that when you went to school “class sizes exceeded 40 and the state of education was fine.” There are several factors that you fail to consider. In the 1950s schools were still segregated, as Brown vs. Board of Education wasn’t decided until 1954. Therefore, schools consisted of very homogeneous populations where students were, for the most part, of relatively similar backgrounds and socioeconomic status. In such a situation there is an inherent framework of common ideas and belief systems that already exists making teaching easier than when that foundation must be constructed. This is a factor in the success of larger or smaller classes.

In addition, for millions of people the state of education was not fine. Not only were non-whites effected by substandard or nonexistent educational opportunities. Another segment of the population that was denied the right to education was what we now term “special needs.” Until legislation passed in 1975, only one in five children with a disability was educated in American schools. These millions of children were not even allowed to be educated. Since 1995 the opportunity for education has been expanded to include students with autism, developmental disability, specific learning disability, intellectual impairment, emotional and/or behavioral disability, intellectual disability, speech and language disability, deaf-blind, visual impairment, hearing impairment, orthopedic or physical impairment, other health impaired (including attention deficit disorder), multiple disabilities and traumatic brain injury. Providing this opportunity creates needs, funding and skills that were never even considered in your day.

You also insist that only your parents paid for your education. This is a fantasy. Your parents “bought school supplies, paid for uniforms and athletic equipment…school trips and extracurricular activities” and it certainly is admirable that you appreciate the sacrifices that your parents made to ensure a well-rounded experience. However, they did not shoulder that burden alone. All schools are supported by their communities. Your parents did not build the school, pay for utilities or salaries, or many other costs incurred to manage a school district – those are costs shared by the community for the benefit of all. An educated populace does benefit us all.
At 70-plus years old, one area that you do not acknowledge is the astounding changes that have occurred in the vastness of knowledge that one must have to function successfully in the world today. You have seen so many amazing changes in the world. While not all change is good, it is education that continues to pave the road to the future. Do you not care because you might not live to see the benefits?

You want to see a spark that might change the world? So sorry you missed the school board meeting where math teacher Lydia Henry spoke with a passion and dedication, that perhaps even you might have appreciated. Ms. Henry, a teacher in our community for many years, still has a passion to strive for a better future for her students. One of the exceptional teachers that stays. Maybe you could volunteer in one of the schools and see exceptional teachers in action. Becoming exception takes time, dedication and continuing education. Starting teachers deserve competitive salaries and salaries that stay that way over time.

Lastly, while many people in Arizona do have a problem with the actions of the legislature and are working to take corrective action, that opportunity is not available this November. Your stance is that we should continue to punish 400 or so teachers and about 4,000 students in our own community until the time comes that someone else can make a difference. I think communities should pull together to be the best that we can be – old, young, with kids, not with kids – together we are better. We can do the right thing for our community now with a yes vote on the override.
Holly Stuber
Apache Junction

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