To The Daily Sun,
The School Board and its supporters have done a good job putting out their message. It is too bad that the message is blaming the City Council for their problems.
As one of the City Councilors, I would like to say that I do not view the Council as the enemy.
But first, I would like my personal feelings about our schools to be known before I present my arguments for not overriding the tax cap or handing out money for raises to one department of the City over other departments.
A few years ago I was invited to be a speaker at the Retired Teachers Annual Meeting. I recently reviewed my remarks and find that portions of that speech will leave no doubt where I stand on the subject of our schools.
I grew up in a different time , when you knew education would be the key to a better life and a chance at achieving whatever you wanted. I graduated from high school with a thorough lesson in most things. I didn't go on to college as it was impossible for a member of a large family (13 children) and being a girl didn't present the opportunities that are available today, but I was still able to go out into the world with these learned skills and achieve moderate success in the business world, and raise a great family. My point is I was given all the tools I needed in the public school system to do whatever I needed to or wanted to do. I thank my teachers and all teachers for that.
Being a mother, working full time and a husband working full time to raise four children wasn't easy, but knowing my children would get the education necessary for an even better life kept the fires of hope alive. We didn't contribute much if anything for their college expense. They worked, had loans, and received help based on their good academic grades. I am proud to say one of my daughters was valedictorian of the Class of 1975. Another daughter was on the Honor Society. All four children went to college. Some beyond, with one becoming an attorney and another becoming a teacher at the University of Delaware, teaching English writing to students who needed it.
Does this sound like someone against schools or teachers?
When my husband passed away 21 years ago, I was suddenly in need of something to fill my life. For a while, golf, reading, puzzles etc. filled the bill, but I found I needed something to keep me interested and involved with what was going on in my City and elsewhere.
This time I turned to the library where they were giving free lessons on the computer, and I found a new teaching tool to expand my horizons. I found I could keep in touch with my family daily and could also send letters to the Editor to express my views on local politics and find answers to many things. I actually wrote a column for two years in both local papers. This led to my running for City Council. I was defeated the first time I ran, but I have been elected six times since and am now in my twelfth year.
I must admit that I have changed my mind about several things since going on the Council. You find out many things you didn't know before you were elected and you realize that you don't represent ONE idea or ONE department, or have a personal agenda. You find out you don't only represent those in your ward, but every person in the City and that you must think about all of them when making decisions about spending THEIR money. You must support things that will make your City better and safer. But, you must budget in government the same as if you were budgeting in your own life. You cannot spend more than you can afford and you must plan ahead for the things that can wait without doing harm.
There will be great harm to many if we were to grant a five year contract with $800,000 each year of that contract earmarked for raises to our teachers and which is in addition to the budget presented. Are we prepared to do the same for Police, Fire, Public Works, Parks, etc. They are all essential to our lives and deserve more, but they do what they are called on to do with what we can afford to give them. They do a great job!
The private sector pays what they can afford or go out of business or lay off employees. The private sector would love to have the very generous benefits our City employees get. Their employers cannot afford it. If they did, they would be out of business. Where would they be then.
The Tax Cap keeps us honest and yet we still do good things. When we override the Tax Cap, we will be writing our doom. The spending will never end, and when the taxpayers run out of money, what is next?
Please, don't consider my position anti-school. It is not. Please School Board don't blame the Council for your problems. Solve them. That is YOUR job. Do not attack programs to garner sympathy and support, but cut waste and nonessential items. Get back to basics.
City Councilor Ward 4