We want teachers, please, we want to learn

In the past few years, many courses have been removed from Ames High’s curriculum due to shortage of teachers, shifting our school into more limited boundaries regarding coursework. The educational budget has suffered severely since the US went to war with Iraq, and its impacts have been too harsh to tolerate. The immense losses students and teachers now suffer due to budget cuts are in no way justifiable: focus towards education must persist no matter how bad our economy is. Eight years ago, for example, the Ames High English Department employed 16 teachers, each having three free periods daily. Now there are roughly ten and a half who have only two planning periods. This strenuous workload yields less preparatory time for more courses. As a result, teachers see more students throughout the day, have fuller classrooms, and are unable to give their students as much attention as they rightfully deserve. These teacher/student relationships are the vital keys that spawn education. Learning isn’t all about absorbing as much information as possible in a given time frame – that is only the foundation on which higher-level education forms. Discussion, argument, and reflection amongst peers allow students to compare themselves to others and shape their own opinions and views. It also encourages intuitive and abstract thought and gives instructors more insight on the ways of learning. Prep time for teachers is essential not only for better lesson plans, but it also makes them more available to students coming in during study halls seeking help, or simply a lively conversation. But if teachers are stressed with grading the papers of 100+ students, not only are they too busy to talk, they just don’t care as much about students’ personal interests. It might surprise some that teachers care in the first place, but after all, they are here because they like interacting with us, and most like their jobs. When the community is forced to let a teacher go due to a budget cut, the ones that get fired are the youngest with the least experience. At first glance, it makes sense to keep the more qualified, but young teachers are fresh out of college and inspired to teach—oftentimes fueling the spark that older teachers may have lost. Plus, it discourages aspiring teachers to enter the field, as if finding a job isn’t hard enough. Neither the School Board nor parents in our community can comprehend the extent of this problem because it does not affect them directly. Teachers I have spoken with feel overwhelmed and frustrated, wanting to give students more options and learning opportunities. Any third party outside the teacher-student accord does not experience this, which explains why the cuts keep on coming. But it’s getting harder for students to explore possibilities with fewer classes, halting our learning. Ames High does have its list of national merits and rankings, but the credit for these achievements should not go towards a great curriculum, but rather to the determination and self-motivation of the students. The reason this issue has not received the attention it deserves is because our community isn’t aware of it; parents must understand that their kids are missing out and aren’t receiving the full benefits of high school electives. Classes are being dropped and nothing is being done about it. Education isn’t something that can be spared or cut back on. Isn’t it better to invest more money now to enlighten the future generation that is so apt to make the world a better place? A bigger fight must be put up to keep teachers, keep classes, and most importantly of all, wisdom.