I read Superintendent James C. Morse Sr.’s most recent “Notebook” with disbelief. No doubt this budget cycle is the most challenging in years. As Morse described what his proposed budget will accomplish, he neglected to include what it is likely to destroy: our adult education program. The budget demands that Portland Adult Ed, with just 1 percent of the overall school budget, take on 10 percent of the teacher cuts.
Has he read his mail? More than 200 students have urged Morse and the School Board to restore funding for the permanent, contract personnel. Some are high school dropouts getting their lives back on track, others immigrants working their way through learning English before tackling academic subjects of English, math, science and social studies. All have the goals of earning a high school diploma or GED and, for many, post-secondary studies. The letters describe the role that these core teachers play in guiding the work of 35 hourly teachers (I’m one of those) as well as 175 volunteers. The students point proudly to their successes in no longer needing translators when seeking medical care, in acquiring jobs, in gaining citizenship. Most importantly, these students understand the central role education plays in improving an entire family system: they can help their children with their homework, participate in school life and serve as role models for developing good study habits.
I urge the board and superintendent: give our neighbors their turn to learn and succeed in our community.