Our children need advocates

A little more than two weeks ago, Gov. Brownback announced a 1.5 percent allotment affecting all public schools in the state for this budget year. This cut, mandated by Gov. Brownback without need for legislative approval, takes $28.3 million from Kansas schools, equating to $38,000 for Unified School District 410.

And that?s just the first wave.

The Legislature approved a delay of capital outlay state aid money, resulting in a $75,000 deduction from USD 410?s current budget.

To top off the bad news, another bill currently vying for approval would change the formula for calculating local option budget state aid funding, further reducing this year?s budget by $69,000.

Potential cuts for USD 410 total $182,000 this year. That?s a lot of money for the remaining four months of the fiscal year.

This news is disheartening to me.

I am just starting out on the education journey with my children. Our oldest is only a first-grader. The other two are still at home. Our family has a long time to be immersed in the school system.

The education of my children is extremely important to me. And if I?m entrusting my children to the school system, I want them to be valued.

It?s time to weigh educational politics less by the bottom line, and more by my children, our children, our friend?s children, neighbor?s children, church children, grandchildren.

I?m not advocating for overspending or demanding state-of-the-art facilities or equipment. But I am insistent that these children?these people?need a voice.

Children are valuable. They have hopes and dreams for the future. They have excitement for learning. They have unique interests and hobbies.

Children matter.

To start, here are 11 outstanding reasons to support public education in Kansas:

April loves stories?especially fairy books?and adores center time at school. She wants to be a farmer when she grows up.

Jared has a weighty high school schedule, of which he enjoys math, principles of engineering, computer integrated manufacturing and robotics. In his spare time he participates in outdoor activities including fishing, hunting and trapping. He also likes to spend time with his friends. He plans to pursue engineering as a career.

Anna is an outgoing and friendly young lady who has the ability to make anyone feel welcomed. Her favorite subject is reading and she enjoys spending time with friends and working on crafts.

Owen is a budding artist. He also enjoys physical education class at school. Legos are one of his favorite pastimes, but he also likes to play on the Nintendo Wii and games on the Kindle. When he grows up, he wants to join the military and be mayor of the town.

Rebecca (aka REEE-becca according to my own Miss J) likes math. She?s involved in basketball, volleyball, track, choir and BIGS at school. Outside of school, she likes to sew, read, complete do-it-yourself projects and watch movies. She also loves spending time with her friends and family.

Tyson?s favorite subject is science. He enjoys eating dinner with his family and likes to play football and basketball. He wants to be a famous football player when he grows up.

Rylie loves writing and art. Her hobbies include playing piano, watching movies and playing with friends. She currently wants to be a librarian and a singer when she grows up.

Colby?s favorite subjects are reading and math. He likes to play golf and tennis and he is very good at figuring out how things work. He wants to be a P.E. teacher when he grows up.

Emily enjoys her opportunity to spend time observing a first grade and a middle school classroom, as she plans to major in elementary education and minor in English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) or special education. She participates in cross country and track, and plans to compete in those sports in college. Though she admits she doesn?t have a lot of free time, she loves to read, watch movies, hang out with her family and scrapbook.

Frank enjoys math. He likes to play sports and guitar, as well as spend time with friends. He wants to be a coach, teacher or a professional athlete when he grows up.

Right now, Jessi?s favor?ite subject is math, though it used to be science when she was learning about the body and plants. Her hobbies include drawing, writing poems and observing the chickens at her family?s farm. She would like to be a doctor someday, specializing in delivering babies and taking care of soon-to-be moms. She plans to fund her education by earning scholarships.

Yes, these children are valuable. Yes, they have dreams. Yes, they have plans.

So as a community?as a state?let?s say yes to helping them get there.

Malinda Just works part-time at the Free Press and is an assistant coach at Hillsboro High School. She can be contacted at malinda@justs.org