Story last updated at 2:43 p.m. Thursday, April 18, 2002

Make education No. 1
Dear Editor,

Delta Kappa Gamma is a professional organization for women educators. Our local Omicron Chapter, which includes active and retired teachers from each school on the southern Kenai Peninsula, meets regularly to provide professional growth and literacy service projects both locally and statewide. We are deeply concerned about funding for education within the state.

We believe this district has a highly dedicated teaching staff committed to quality education. All teachers are college graduates and continue to pursue professional development and additional degrees to improve instructional practices at their own expense. In order to meet each studentpis needs, most teachers spend many hours beyond their contractual agreement. This time is spent tutoring students, preparing lesson plans, grading papers, and assessing studentpis needs (learning, emotional, social, safety, physical, monetary, etc.) Teachers deal with a wide range of students from all walks of society. They feed students who arrive at school without having had breakfast, drive students home who have been left at school, and become the support network for needy students. In addition to immediate student and classroom needs, teachers are involved in sponsoring clubs, coaching, serving on committees, and raising funds for supplies or field trips, all of which enhance the education of our youth. Besides spending additional time, teachers also spend their own money to support instructional programs. A recent article in "Newsweek" magazine stated that the average U.S. teacher spends upwards of $500 per year of their own money for their classroom. A survey of our own group indicated that teachers in this district contribute substantially more. Your children would not receive the quality education they do without the personal contributions and dedication of these teachers.

As educators we are deeply concerned about the current level of funding for education in Alaska. Due to insufficient funding, our district is losing experienced teachers and is being forced to cut staff. These cuts frequently result in teachers being forced to teach out of their areas of certification or endorsement. Other ramifications include larger pupil-teacher ratios and elimination of instructional and extra-curricular programs. Students also will experience cuts in their educational materials, supplies and equipment. According to recent testimony given to the state Legislature, "For every dollar not spent on education, seven dollars will be spent on prisons and social services for under educated people."

We encourage the public to join us in persuading our legislators to support educational funding as the number one priority for the state. Our children should be everyonepis priority.

Amy Budge, president Omicron Chapter, Delta Kappa Gamma International