Saturday, October 10, 2015

Everyday Advocates - Shirley Deckard

Why is public education advocacy important to you?
Over the last 25 years that I have been a school board member in Wayne Township, I have seen our community continue to lose property value, to struggle to help our growing number of children in poverty, and to serve our ESL students. As we have grown rich in diversity, we have grown poor in education resources needed to support our most needy children. We share this situation with many of the districts in our state, as our Governors and Legislators continue to turn a blind eye, or worse, exacerbate the problems with willful ignorance.

As an advocate, what accomplishment have you found most satisfying?
MSD Wayne Township has, thus far, been able to maintain successes for all of our children, but our staff and our community have paid the price through slow salary gains, intense and determined work, and higher local taxes gained through a referendum. Watching our community learning to understand the problems that the law makers have/are creating for Public Education, seeing them come together as a true community to help, and noting the successes our schools have had in spite of the difficulties have been of the greatest satisfaction to me.

Why are public schools important to everyone in a community?
Statewide, which the Parents & Educators against the Daniels/Bennett Educational Reform Facebook page reaches (and beyond), I want to continue to educate parents about the inequities that Education Reform, as begun by both Daniels and Bennett and built upon by Pence and his Supermajority, force upon our communities and our children. I do understand the lure to send a child to a “private” school, especially to parents of generational poverty. I do understand the thinking that a beloved child deserves what is seen as a “special” school, as slickly advertised by Charters. I strive to make them understand that what they truly deserve is to send their children to an excellent school in their own neighborhood; that they are able to demand that their Public Schools be funded in such a way that they never fall to a point where “Choice” becomes necessary. I work to help all parents and all community members know (or, just remember from their own childhood) that Public Schools are the heart of their community. The shared experiences of people, the sports, the school pride, the geographic location of Public Schools define the community. Without them, communities cease to exist.

What keeps you going? Why is public education advocacy important to you?
I advocate for Public Education because it IS the foundation of our country, our Democracy. It has served both well for over 200 years by ensuring that all of our people can be educated and, therefore, informed. On the flip side of my advocacy is that the things that most aggravate me are: unfairness, greed, arrogance, and stupidity...all major elements of the Education Reform movement. When anyone of these characteristics are in motion, I have to fight is my nature. All of them together in one movement…that’s what keeps me going, keeps me fighting. I’m tenacious by nature, so I’m in to stay. I’m in until Public Education is made whole.

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