Albert Einstein once said, “I never teach my pupils, I only provide the conditions in which they can learn.” This sentiment resonates with me as a parent and educator, and is what I strive to embrace in my eighth-grade English and social studies classes at Gorham Middle School. Providing an environment in which students can be highly engaged in their own learning is not as easy as it once was, and underfunded schools exacerbate and perpetuate that challenge.
In 2004, voters asked the state to fund 55 percent of the total cost of education. To this day, that funding requirement has never been met. According to figures from the Department of Education, funding for public schools has not kept up with the costs of running those schools. In 2015-16, the state only paid 46.6 percent of the total cost of education. This lack of funding at 55 percentequates to a cumulative loss in state funding for public schools of $1.2 billion since 2008. This loss of funding has negative impacts on students. Examples of such negative impacts include; loss of programs such as industrial technology classes at the middle level, an increasing number of pay to play athletic programs, outdated texts and materials, and larger class sizes, which negatively impacts all learners.
This is why a yes vote on Question 2, The Stand Up for Students Ballot Initiative, is important because it is a funding solution that makes sense. Adding a 3 percent surcharge to the wealthiest Mainers will generate more than $150 million in public education funds, impacting only those who make more than $200,000 after deductions. I support Question 2. It identifies the problem and has a reasonable solution to fix public school funding – and that’s good for our children and the state as a whole.