Green River Star -

Letters to the editor

 

February 17, 2021



State should not follow Utah’s education example

Dear Editor,

This is an open letter to the Wyoming Legislature.

My name is Drew Roska. I am originally from Salt Lake City and attended elementary, junior high and high school in the Salt Lake valley. All of my alma maters, including my high school, have closed since I was there due to cuts in funding. I grew up waiting for public transit with my teachers so they could go to their second jobs. I watched them trade in their chalk and erasers for backpack vacuums so they could clean the school for extra money. I watched as they sat in the parking lot on the weekends, fixing their rundown cars. My heart broke for them. I could not, and still do not, understand how somebody who is entrusted with the education of children could be so poor.

I was put into kindergarten at the age of 4. My birthday is in mid-August and my parents, even though they were warned that I would struggle, registered me because they did not want to pay for another year of childcare. I was a self-proclaimed failure when it came to math.

I struggled at every turn and lacked the confidence to try hard enough to understand it. I learned quickly that my teachers were overwhelmed with the number of students in the classroom and if I stayed silent, I could coast through. I did this through all of my schooling, always aware that I struggled, resolved in remaining quiet so they did not bother me. I wish I would have lived in a community and state that put so much emphasis on education, I know I wouldn’t have struggled as long as I did.

In junior high, I finally had a teacher who was new enough to the profession and not burned out enough yet to have the honest conversation with me about applying myself.

This saint of a woman saved my life. She gave me the confidence I needed to change my resolve. By the end of my senior year, I accomplished my first 4.0. Unfortunately, that teacher had already quit by the time I graduated, frustrated by the inability to make a difference based on classroom sizes. I decided that I needed to become a teacher, to help those like me that needed an advocate to help them along. My senior year of college at Utah State, we were required to interview with districts within the state. In my interview with the director of special education in Cache Valley, he noted that none of my preferences were for places in Utah, that they were for Wyoming or Alaska.

He asked why that was. I told him that I wasn’t willing to reward the state of Utah with my services if they weren’t going to put children and teachers first. The interview ended there. When I left Utah State, I was looking at making $28,000 a year as a teacher in Utah. I was already making $25,000 mowing the lawn for the university.

Wyoming was willing to start me at $46,000 and it wasn’t even a question. We moved that summer and have been here ever since. Utah is finally acknowledging that it was a mistake to underfund education and now we are deciding to follow in their footsteps?

I have worked in the same classroom for nine years at Truman Elementary School in Green River.

I picked a school that qualifies for Title I assistance because I can relate to the students and felt I could make a difference.

I’m grateful to have been part of that difference.

We recently became a National Blue Ribbon school. My principal invited me to attend the ceremony in Washington D.C. as the sole teacher representative for the school. I felt proud in representing not only my school, but also Wyoming. I bragged about our state’s commitment to students and teachers. The people I spoke with were amazed at the level of commitment to the students in Wyoming. They were envious and wished that their systems would do the same. They were shocked when they found out we are a Title I school. I wasn’t able to find another Title I school being represented at that ceremony. I love the fact that I get to change lives, that I get to be a part of a bigger, better system.

I am from Utah, my family lives in Utah. Here, I have my wife and our golden retriever, Lily. The pull to be near family is strong, but the desire to stay is even stronger. Every part of me wants to stay, however, I cannot fathom the thought of the education we are providing in this great state turning into that of Idaho or Utah. I have gone through that system as a student, and I cannot begin to process going through that system as a teacher. Kids deserve more. Wyoming deserves more. If the suggested changes to reduce funding and increase class sizes go through, I will not continue in education here. It will be too hard to watch it crumble. I am proud to call myself an educator for the state of Wyoming, NOT WYDAHO.

Drew Roska

Gren River

Vote was an act of courage

Dear Editor,

I am incredulous to hear the dust up over Liz Cheney’s vote.

To me, the core message is (as Abe Lincoln put it) nothing is important enough to justify mob violence.

To me, Liz Cheney’s vote is an act of couragous patriotism.

Bill Cummings

Green River

Budget moves questioned

Dear Editor,

Had e-doggone-nough of it? Bewildered by the whole mess? I wanna know how the operation works.

Governor Gordon, let’s start with you. How do you determine where to cut and by how much? Please explain how you begin, and how you proceed so we can all follow your reasoning and assess the “method to your madness.”

There appear to be life versus quality of living distinctions. Cutting luxuries and functions not directly life-sustaining seems reasonable. There should be much less decrease in spending related to matters of life and limb. Perhaps a clear picture of the process could help us all see the wisdom of a particular course of action and point our legislators in a more prudent direction. Could eliminating one or two whole departments possibly allow those remaining to breathe easier instead of slowly bleeding to death? Across the board reductions would continue, of course, but with no favoring and no cheating, please. Presumably a combination of responses could staunch the current bloodletting.

The new millennium and COVID are vehemently demanding new initiatives. Regardless of what anyone says or promises, the world is moving away from coal, just as it did from oars, horses and steam.

In 2017, Governor Mead was ready to throw in the towel concerning Medicaid Expansion. Why? Because ranchers took him to task. Confronting him about not getting a darn thing in return for their money since 2014, he could only look down and shuffle his feet. I was there, sitting directly opposite him, when he spoke about this at a democratic caucus reception, and healthinsurance.org reported that Mead regretted our missing out on $100 million in annual federal funding.

As for the Legislature, that bunch truly needs to heed the people’s cries! We have endured and been literally sickened by their baseless fears! In 2020, the Joint Revenue Committee voted 8-5 for an expansion bill that the House immediately killed. Whether they trust the feds or not, it’s significantly past time they stepped out on faith for the families of approximately 19,000 uninsured residents and 111 who die every year in this state!

Geri Maria Johnson

Cheyenne

 

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