Budget cuts hurt students' post-secondary opportunities

Wednesday, February 5, 2014 - 23:00

Recently, a group of former Eagle River High students came back to talk to my classes about college. These students graduated between 2010 and 2013 and transitioned to universities ranging from Ivy League to state schools. I asked them to talk about how to smoothly transition to college.

Each advised my current students to use the Career Resource Center to help them apply for scholarships. Several highlighted the value of the Gifted Mentorship Program, which pairs students with local professionals to gain work experience.

They all valued having AP credits because it helped them with college admission and led to early registration opportunities. Many stories were recounted about the confidence gained from participation in the arts and extracurricular activities at ERHS.

I have often brought former students in to talk to my current classes. Students trust their older peers to provide sound advice. Unfortunately, I had to follow their talk with news of budget cuts.

The Career Resource Center is closed, the Gifted Mentorship Program has been gutted, and the current budget cuts are going to remove more than 1,200 minutes (24 days) of instructional time from classes.

Less instructional time means less preparation for Advanced Placement exams. I also had to tell them that the imminent loss of 159 teachers threatens the arts and sports in an unprecedented way.

Right now, teachers are in an uproar because budget cuts are reducing their students’ opportunities and threatening the outcomes we have come to expect.

We have attended meetings with legislators, written letters and spoken to the community about the real value of the people and programs that are vanishing from our schools.

Parents, you, too, should be troubled. Your students, who are entering schools right now are losing the opportunities that helped launch our recent grads into successful post-secondary experiences.


— Mark Van Arsdale, Eagle River High teacher

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