The looming $50 million short-fall in the Salem-Keizer Schools budget is beyond unsettling.

There are programs that are endangered, hundreds of jobs are on the line.  Pain will be felt across the board, from the adminstrative offices, to schools and the classroom.

If the face of education in America is going to change due to budget constraints, then we need to make a push to put what resources there are to where it will do the most good:  elementary education.

A child’s joy of learning is borne in the the first years of their education.  That’s where the bulk of education spending should be—if you get children excited about learning at a young age it will carry through to high school.

Too many students are disengaged from learning once they reach high school.  There are too many distractions and too much laxity when it comes to assuring students actually attend class and actually do assigned work.

If children are taught in elementary schools with fewer students per class and more one-on-one time with their teachers, they will grasp concepts easier and learn rather than memorize.

A lot of focus is put on the high school level, which is important especially for those planning on higher education.  But high schools across the country are being decimated by budget cuts—many  have dumped extracurricular programs.

That’s all the more reason to focus on elementary school, even in tough budgetary times.  Children at grade school age are eager to learn, their minds are still developing and they are discovering what they can do as little people.  The joy and enthusiasm one sees in our grade schools should be nutured and fostered; when one uncovers the power of education at a young age it can only benefit them throughout their educational career.

If there is to be millions of dollars cut from the Salem-Keizer Schools budget we hope the superintendent, the school board and the financial officers take an honest look at where education dollars will do the most for our kids, our community and our country, in the long run.

There is no one who will deny the importance of education.  Let’s be sure we focus our attention on the classrooms where that education really takes root.

—LAZ