Frankly Speaking . . .
The staff and students of Franklin Pierce Schools have been hard at it since our opening day on August 27. Without interruption or distraction, our schools have remained focused on what we are paid by our public to do – educate our kids. We are not without our challenges but as you will see throughout this publication, Franklin Pierce Schools are on a continuous cycle of becoming the best they can be - one day and one child at a time. In a period of much economic distress and turmoil throughout the world, our nation, state, and local community, I am hoping that it is comforting to you that our schools continue to do the best possible job of providing a quality education for all of our children. There is no better long-term economic investment for our state and country than ensuring strong schools.
The caring and hard-working FPS staff do whatever it takes to maintain safe, secure, and well-kept facilities, stay abreast of and use the most effective instructional strategies, efficiently feed and transport our students, work collaboratively to determine and provide the necessary support for students who need it, and stay within the annual budgets allocated. I can assure you that you can be as proud as I am of the work being accomplished by the students and staff throughout the school district in which you reside.
Using a cycle of continuous improvement, each of our schools has completed and presented their annual School Improvement Plans to the School Board. The plans describe the specific strategies and action plans school staff will employ to increase academic achievement, maintain safe schools, and enhance parent and community involvement to realize the FPS vision of having “every student graduate from our high schools prepared to succeed in post-secondary education. It is a tall order and according to author Jamie Vollmer, “. . . a feat that no society in the history of the world has even contemplated, let alone accomplished.”
Throughout the U.S., the percentage of citizens who actually participate in the democratic process (i.e., vote) generally is low in all categories. Unfortunately, Pierce County and more specifically, Franklin Pierce School District residents are no exception. The responsibility to reverse this withdrawal from civic duty lies more heavily than ever on our schools. After all, education is the one public institution that includes 90 percent of the next generation of adults, is governed and financed by public authority, and has the explicit mission of educating for democratic citizenship.
America's public schools have been an indispensable source of our country's strength for more than a century. Our schools have enabled Americans to be active participants in the world's oldest existing democracy. They've prepared us to be productive members of the economy. And they've enabled our diverse population to live together in a free society.
From the earliest days of the republic, America's leaders have recognized the central role public education plays in educating the whole people and creating a shared American culture and cohesive society. In fact, John Adams, the second president of the United States, said "The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and must be willing to bear the expense of it."
Schools provide students with the skills and knowledge necessary for the labor force. They prepare students to be literate, informed and reasoning citizens. But the centrality of public education goes beyond even these essentials. When the United States created public schooling, we established an institution that made free education accessible to all and accountable to the people.
Only public schools must answer, through the democratic process, to the people of the communities they serve.
Only public schools are prepared to serve without reservation or qualification all students in America. No matter how many students there are; no matter what their race, ethnicity, religion or economic status; no matter what their abilities or disabilities; all are welcome in the public schools.
The United States is a unique country. We are a nation of immigrants from every continent, culture and language group of the globe. Public schools provide the cohesion that unites us as a society.
Our public schools are the ties that bind this diverse and pluralistic society into a nation. Our nation's thirty-sixth president, Lyndon B. Johnson, also believed that there is no institution more fundamental to American society and democracy than its public schools, writing, "Nothing matters more to the future of our country than education...not our military preparedness, for armed power is worthless if we lack the brain power to build a world of peace...not our economic prosperity, for growth cannot be sustained without trained people power...not our democratic system of government, for freedom is fragile if citizens are ignorant.”
Together we can help our students become those citizens we want them to be making our democracy strong and our community sound.
Top 10 Reasons for Supporting Public Education
10. An educated population is the cornerstone of democracy. This nation's well-being depends on the decisions of its educated, informed citizens.
9. Education reduces costs to taxpayers. For every dollar spent to keep a child in school, the future costs of welfare, prison, and intervention services are reduced. It can cost less to educate a child now than to support a teenage parent or a repeat offender in the future. Education monies help to secure the future of all citizens.
8. Public schools are the only schools that must meet the needs of all students. They do not turn children or families away. Public schools serve children with physical, emotional, and mental disabilities, those who are extremely gifted and those who are learning challenged, right along with children without special needs.
7. Public schools foster interactions and understanding among people of different ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
6. "Education is the best provision for old age"-- Aristotle. The future support of our aging population depends on strong public schools. In 1954, there were 17 workers to pay the Social Security cost for each retiree. By 1995, there will be only three for each retiree. It is likely that the productivity of these three workers per retiree will depend on the strength of our public school systems.
5. More than 95 percent of our future jobs will require at least a high school education. There is no question about the need for an educated work force.
4. The nation pays a high price for poorly educated workers. When retraining and remediation are needed to prepare a worker to do even simple tasks, the cost is paid by both employers and consumers. This process raises the price of American products and makes it more difficult for this nation to compete in the world marketplace.
3. The cost of dropouts affects us all. This nation loses more than $240 billion per year in earnings and taxes that dropouts would have generated over their lifetimes. Well-supported public schools can engage all students in learning and graduate productive and competent citizens.
2. Children are our nation's future. Their development affects all of us. Good education is not cheap, but ignorance costs far more.
And the Number One reason to support public education. . .
1. Public education is a worthy investment for public funds. We can invest now, or we can pay later. -- (from the Illinois Coalition for Public Education, June 1994)
To maintain our current level of success and improvement we are experiencing in the Franklin Pierce Schools, we will be calling on you to support us in our upcoming 4-year renewal of our Programs & Operations Levy and Instructional Technology Levy. It is hard to believe it has already been almost four years since our community stepped up to overwhelmingly pass these two 4-year levies. We will again be running a continuation of these levies early in 2014. Both will be at rates that are likely to be no more than previous ones passed in 2010, meaning that a “yes” vote will not raise your taxes. The election will take place on February 11, 2014 and ballots will go out to voter’s homes in January. The success of these two levies is critical to the continuing operation of our school district as we know it. No less than 20% of our funding is generated through this means and it doesn’t appear likely, at least in MY lifetime, that the State will be stepping up to fully fund its public schools. There will be much more information to come on this over the next few months. The Citizens for Franklin Pierce Schools will soon be convening to plan the election campaign. If you are interested in helping out, please call Lee Warnaca at __________.
It has been a fantastic fall and a wonderful start to a great school year! Please join us in the many activities taking place at all of our dynamic schools. Bundle up, take your umbrella, get a flu shot, and I’ll see you around the district!