Make an investment in outstanding staff | Letter to the editor

To the editor:

I’m really confused about something here on Bainbridge, and I hope it’s not too late.

My grandson (presently in middle school) has talked often this year about “one of the best teachers I’ve ever had.” It seems that most everyone likes her because she’s smart and funny, but mostly she makes learning fun.

Just last week, however, we learned that this truly wonderful teacher was being laid off because “there aren’t enough kids in our schools.”

This got me thinking. Didn’t we just vote on building a brand-new school? If there aren’t enough students and money to keep very qualified teachers, why are we building a new school? Doesn’t make much sense. The few people I asked seemed as confused as I.

Someone did say, “It’s because we’ve already decided.” That may be true, but don’t things change? I remember wanting to buy that new car in 2008 but when the stock market fell apart we changed our minds. We’re still messing around with only one car.

Someone else did say, “It’s because the money is coming from different sources.”

Isn’t the money coming from resident taxes?

As a former educator, I know that the value of an “outstanding” teacher far surpasses the value of a building. For years I visited classrooms around the world where teachers were lucky to have a piece of chalk, books or even desks for their students.

Yet, somehow, with almost nothing they produced well-educated, intelligent children.

Some of these teachers and students have gone on to win international competitions and scholarships to prestigious schools.

Intelligent students don’t come from “good” classrooms; they come from “good” teachers. A wonderful teacher, even one having to sit on a log in an open field, is capable of showing students that learning is a new adventure and dreaming is the possibility of a better tomorrow.

Hard decisions about facilities and administrative costs need to be made now. Such decisions are no different than those made by families facing changing times.

Teachers who carry the greatest responsibilities should not be the first to be cast to the wind.

I’m not suggesting we ignore the value of good facilities, but isn’t it time we place the value where it belongs: our teachers?

HELEN ULITSKY

Bainbridge Island

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