Monday, June 24, 2013
I am deeply concerned with the impact that a budget cut of your magnitude will have on the education of all students in the system.
Dear New Bedford City Councilors,
Speaking as a lifetime resident, registered voter, and tax payer in New Bedford, I am upset at the financial mismanagement that has led to a monetary deficit in our school system. I also understand both the council’s concerns and drive to take preventive measures in order to avoid future fiscal meltdowns.
However, as a graduate of the New Bedford Public Schools System and father of two who attend New Bedford schools, I am deeply concerned with the impact that a budget cut of your magnitude will have on the education of all students in the system. Upon my graduation in 1995, New Bedford was considered a well-rounded, multicultural haven for education. This education led me to Umass-Dartmouth, Bridgewater State College, and Fitchburg State College with highest honors. It led me to a career which allows me to give back to the school system that raised me. We were the city of champions in both men and women’s athletics. Our band and color guard marched strong and in numbers, showcasing their talents in games, parades, and championships across many states. Our theater groups performed with the poise, energy, and high level of entertainment that rivaled any professional show at the Z. Great instructors motivated and instructed these students to succeed beyond expectations, roles that may be lost due to your cuts.
Cuts to our budget will impact the future of many teachers and instructors who are the bridge between average and greatness; job and a career. My children may not have the opportunity to discover their hidden talents and will be negated the balanced education that I had if these cuts are set in place. The extinction of the arts will be inevitable, as cuts like these become the norm each fiscal year. Lack of staff and larger class sizes will have a negative impact, allowing more students to “fall through the cracks”. Without a release to discover and express talents, finding a “spot” on the educational grid will prove frustrating and dropout rates will increase. These budget cuts will further wound our Level 4 district, as did the financial mismanagement of the school department.
I have previously mentioned that I have a career that gives back to the school system that raised me. I am currently concluding my thirteenth year of service to the New Bedford Public Schools as a fourth grade teacher. I have to admit, it feels like I’ve given more of my time and money than I have received. Each year, I’m required to adapt to protocols and policy changes. The planning time received during specialist classes and on Friday afternoons is insufficient to complete evaluation portfolios, meet with grade level teams, analyze student data, create enriched themed units, grade student work, plan for the week, complete progress reports/report cards, and conference with parents. I have spent large sums of money to keep my certificate in good standing and to meet the ever changing requirements of a licensed educator. I have donated portions of my paycheck for class supplies to facilitate the education of my students. Spending countless “volunteer” hours tutoring, planning, and conferencing without pay, when it is part of our contractual agreement, has become the norm. Why do it? I still believe that teachers play a significant role in the upbringing of our future citizens, taxpayers, and voters. I cannot in good conscience “stick it” to the school department and city council because my students are my children.
Throughout my course work at the graduate level, I have read a multitude of articles and studies that conclude that exposure to the arts directly impacts student performance on state testing. This was the argument posed by many supporters of the innovation schools. Being a level 4 district, improvement on state testing is crucial, yet these cuts are putting us at a disadvantage. Rebuilding our great public schools cannot exist without the arts, the staff needed to directly instruct our children, and the supplies and planning time necessary to achieve these means. With the advancement of studies and theories on learning, New Bedford is currently in regression. Leaders lead their followers to success. I am afraid to say that my confidence in my leaders is faltering. These children are not just numbers on a spreadsheet. They are our future. The Whaling City was once revered. It can be revered again if the council considers the consequences of their actions. It would be a step in the positive direction.
Daniel D. Viegas
Posted by NBEA