Dear Jenna, Kamryn, Paige, Kaylee and Lilyan,
Finally all five of you are in school. This year I pledge to fight for and find a way to fund our wonderful rural schools.
I am so happy you have such wonderful teachers who truly care about your education. I know you are in good hands and they will help you succeed. I am also very thankful for the wonderful support we have received this past year from some very wonderful corporations and foundations. It has restored my faith in humanity and I am ready to keep fighting. You now have the science and art materials you need to succeed and updated technology at the elementary school to compete and acquire the skills necessary for the 21st century.
This year I will try my hardest to find funds to bring your playground up to safety standards so you can once again enjoy play, repair your cracked, asbestos-exposed gym/cafeteria floor so you can have a safe place to attend school, repair your leaking roof so you don’t slip and hurt yourself, purchase some basic musical instruments so you can be exposed to more than just a piano, purchase library books so you won’t complain that you read all the books in the library your first year at the school, and even tackle a federal grant so that you will have the opportunity to participate in art, music and theater. If I am not able to accomplish all of this in one year, although I plan to, I will keep fighting until we find the funds to provide you with basic educational materials and a safe school.
But what is most important is what I will not do. I will not focus so much on how unfair state and federal funding is on small schools (under 100 students) surrounded by federal forest land, with no tax revenue to speak of and the inability to pass a school bond of significance because of the very small population (566) who are mainly poor farmers and are heavily taxed because of the amount of land they own. I will not focus so much on this that I give up and get discouraged. I will continue to look for and find creative ways to repair our schools and purchase basic educational materials. You all work very hard, you are all very smart. You have wonderful teachers, who care about your education. I will not give up on your education because we are “poor.” I will not expect you do not deserve the same opportunities, because your father choice to become a school administrator instead of a doctor.
I will not give up on my effort for you Jenna, (now that you are at the jr/sr high) to find funding to update your 126mg ram computers, purchase laptops FOR THE TEACHERS, and replace your chalkboards with the technology necessary for secluded rural schools to succeed. I will continue to search for a way to find the funds necessary to purchase books for your library, so you at least have access to the required readings for class and the expected readings for college. I will search through every grant, every foundation, every company, to find a grant that would give your school a proper track, not just a mud path around the football field. The girl’s at your school took state in track, you deserve to have the proper equipment to excel.
I will not give up, because I really have no idea what I am doing. I will educate myself on funding laws and policies, seek out and accept help from all who are willing to offer, and form partnerships with others who have the knowledge and means to help us succeed. I will do the very best I can, the absolutely very best and nothing less, to find and acquire the funds that will provide you and the other students in Mackay School District with opportunities to succeed.
BUT MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL! I WILL NOT forget that my most important job is being your MOM. However, overwhelming and time consuming it maybe to find funds, write grants, and fight for your education, I WILL NOT lose track of who it is I am fighting for. I WILL - Jenna, Kamryn, Paige, Kaylee and Lilyan – be there for you when you need me, whether that is at Capitol Hill or braiding your hair in the bathroom. I WILL ABSOLUTELY and ALWAYS be there for you, because that is what MOM’s do!
Candice Larsen is the 2011 Mom Congress delegate from Idaho. She lives with her husband, an elementary school principal, and five children in a small rural community where she strives to bring financial aid and other resources to improve their struggling school. This post is part of the Mom Congress Back-to-School Blog-a-thon.