Monday, March 15, 2010

Help keep art in NJ public schools!

A very dear friend of mine and a brilliant art teacher, Karen Kiick, sent me out an email over the weekend of utmost importance regarding future of public education in New Jersey.

When I state that Karen is a brilliant art teacher (as well as artist) I don't say that lightly. Karen was a 2009 HS Division Award recipient by The Art Educators of New Jersey. She was also the 2005-2006 Camden County Teacher of the Year and a 2006 Geraldine R. Dodge Teacher Fellowship recipient. In 2005, she received the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Arts Education, was recognized as a Master Teacher by The Art Educators of New Jersey and received a Frederick L. Hipp Grant from The New Jersey Education Association. In 2000, she was awarded with a Geraldine R. Dodge Artist Initiative Grant. Karen speaks nationally on issues pertinent to the arts and public education.
Rather impressive eh?

I beseech of you to read the message and sign the digital petition by clicking on the link. As an artists and sometimes arts educator myself, I can't stress enough the importance of this. Also, in my opinion, whether you live in NJ or not is of no importance - please sign the petition. There is strength in numbers!

Here is the message:

Hello friends,
I am writing with a genuine concern for the future of public education in the state of New Jersey. Many of you, all connected to New Jersey in some way, even if only through me, can do your part.

Governor Christie is attempting to 'fix' the state's financial problems through massive cuts to education and other state funded organizations. State mandated cuts to my district alone could be over $3,800,000.00. While other New Jersey school districts may be affected to varying degrees, mine is being gutted.

Currently, to meet the governor's demands, the proposed cuts to Haddon Township High School, where I teach, are over $777,000.00. Twenty-five teachers in my district (8 in my HS) stand to lose their jobs and our high school art program will likely be reduced from 9 classes to 3. The 3D program that I spent the past 14 years creating will not exist.

Like most educators, I agree that a broken system needs to be fixed and that state budgets need to be balanced. However, our state government has not even engaged its teachers in a conversation that allows us to solve this problem in a way that does not hurt our children and our schools. Instead, we are being bulldozed and regarded as the enemy. Governor Christie is trying to sway public opinion against educators and convince the general public that teachers are the problem. His shock and awe strategies have all occurred alarmingly fast, and if allowed to proceed unchallenged, will destroy the quality programs we have worked so hard to create.

If you support public education and feel compelled to support it in New Jersey, please consider visiting the website below and signing a petition. This site also states facts and statistics about the success of New Jersey schools. As the petition says, "New Jersey's public schools are among the best in the nation. Reckless funding cuts will hurt our schools and our students' ability to learn. There are better ways to balance the budget. The last thing New Jersey should do is risk our quality public schools." Governor Christie makes his budget address on Tuesday, so please don't delay.

Thanks for your time and if you want, please share this request with your own mailing list.

If you'd like to read a short example of how our governor regards teachers, please read this article from a local, weekly magazine. The last few lines are the real zinger.

If you'd like to see some examples of what high school students create in my classes, please visit:

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