Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ron's Speech at the Day of Action to Save Our Schools

Today was a Day of Action across the State of California to save education. Here is Ron's speech from our local rally this evening here in Ukiah.

My name is Ron Reed. I’m a computer support technician for the Ukiah Unified School District. I was born in a big town; you may have heard of it: Chicago. I live here in Ukiah now. There were several stops along the way, but for 20 years, this has been home. I have been in some interesting places; some were rough, challenging. But, I wanted to succeed in raising a family. My wife and I wanted to raise our children in a relatively safe environment; we needed options. We chose Ukiah. We had 2.5 children when we got here. The .5 part evened us out to 3 whole children. Our address put our children in the Hopland Elementary School, which seemed to be the ideal school setting; small campus with a huge play area. The children weren’t lost in a swarm of anonymity; it was a very intimate learning environment. All 3 attended Hopland, then Pomolita Middle School, and the high school. They all went to colleges in the state; one has graduated, the second one will be walking this weekend, I’m proud to say, and the .5 is entering his second year of college. All 3 are creative and pursued educational opportunities in the arts and humanities, such as writing, drawing, painting, media arts, and music, which are fields that are becoming harder to pursue at the elementary and secondary school levels as funding squeezes out programs that would nurture such interests.

The budget fiasco relay has me baffled. If you have limited funds, how do you choose to spend? What is important? Apparently, to the state, education is not. When I face drastic cuts and spending in my own household, I have to make changes. Carpool. Turn off the satellite T.V. for the summer. Be more economical buying groceries. The idea of telling our children, “we can’t afford to send you to college,” would not even be an option. I grew up in the projects in a large family with not much money and we valued an education even though very few of us were able to go to college. It took me 10 years to earn my own college degree. They say that education is the ticket out of poverty and I can testify that it worked for me. Education is also the pathway for people to fulfill their potential. All children deserve this opportunity.

We are a community, from this gathering here at Alex Thomas Plaza in Ukiah, to the global community. What we do matters. What we don’t do matters. We can let it roll over us and not respond, implying that it is okay to cut education funding. Or we can insist that it is wrong and do something about it.

Your children are my children. Our children will be productive citizens. They will become leaders of the school systems, cities, the state, and the country. They will heal us, feed us, transport us, compose music and play it for us, teach us; protect us from crime, fire, and foreign enemies; run thriving businesses, invent new technologies, solve global problems. But they cannot achieve any of those things if we don’t educate them. Now.

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