By Rep. Darrio Melton
Over the next few weeks, kids across Alabama will be heading back to school, full of excitement and goals for the upcoming year. While we’ve talked a lot about education policy and what the problems in the Montgomery State House have to do with your child’s education in the local school house, at the end of the day it all comes down to one thing: preparing the next generation of leaders for the state of Alabama.
Because I’m a parent, too, I know how hard it is to watch your child get out of the car and walk into the school, another year older and another year wiser. And I know the last thing on your mind is the legislation in Montgomery– you just want your kids to have every opportunity available to them. You just want them to get a healthy lunch. You just want them to be safe at school.
There’s a lot of talk about how the current legislation will affect your child’s schools–the Education Budget is short $40 million from the Accountability Act, teachers are making less today than they did four years ago, and per-student cuts amount to approximately $1,200 since 2006. The numbers sound scary, and for lawmakers they are.
As a lawmaker, I promise I’m going to work to fix these problems in Montgomery. As a lawmaker, I’m going to stand up for every child’s access to quality public education starting with qualified pre-kindergarten programs. I’m going to stand up for paying our teachers like professionals. I’m going to stand up for keeping public dollars in public schools.
But as a parent, all I can do is sit down. As a parent, I can sit down with my kids every night and help them with their homework. I can sit down at the parent-teacher conferences and the PTA meetings to learn about what’s going on in my child’s school. I can sit down on the bed with them and read with them at night.
While we have a long way to go as policymakers, there is plenty we can do as parents. We must teach our children that they are strong, capable, and intelligent. We must demand more from them than our parents demanded of us, and hope that they demand even more from their own children. We must teach them that all learning doesn’t come from a classroom–it also comes from a desire to take in the world around you.
I’m doing everything I can in Montgomery, but I need your help to build the next generation of leaders in Alabama. I can’t guarantee we can fix the policy, but I can guarantee that you will have an impact on your child’s future while we work on the problems in Montgomery.
Representative Darrio Melton is a Democrat from Selma. He was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 2010.