There are two major amendments being voted on today.
One is Amendment 2A, which is meant to ban fracking in Fort Collins, and the other is Amendment 66. Unlike 2A, 66 is less straightforward. Most of us know it has something to do with schools, but we’re not sure how it’s supposed to affect us.
According to the website Colorado Commits, Amendment 66 is supposed to increase taxes, costing about $133 per family, in order to raise $950 million dollars to fund Colorado public schools. That money is supposed to be used to hire more teachers and decrease class sizes and fund programs for art, music, sports and transportation.
This is a fantastic idea, and we should exercise our rights as citizens and vote for it.
This is an investment in our future. We may be out of the public school system, but many of us have siblings, nieces or nephews or even children in the system right now. In a few years, those kids will be where we are right now, and we need to make sure they have the ability to be informed voters and make good decisions.
The tax hike might seem expensive to us, being poor students, but the money will be well-worth it if we get well-rounded and informed citizens with the tools needed to make the best decisions.
If more teachers are hired, the class sizes will be reduced. Smaller classes means that a teacher can spend more time on each student and make sure that not only does the class as a whole succeed, so do the individuals that make it up.
The idea of treating a class as a unit instead of as parts of a whole is detrimental to the overall performance of the class. With large classes, students who are struggling can fall through the cracks because the teacher doesn’t have enough time to focus on them, but with smaller ones, everyone can succeed.
Art, music and gym classes are necessary for students to be well-rounded. I have fond memories of my public school years because my schools kept those classes intact. With art, I could use crayons, watercolors or oil pastels to create images, things that only existed in my mind. I got paint on my fingers and the tip of my nose, I learned to mix colors and blend to create shadows and add dimension to a tree and I learned the basic facts about Picasso and Monet. Sure, my paintings were no masterpieces, but they were tangible symbols of having fun and learning at the same time.
Music class is another reason I’m indebted to the schools of America. As a member of the CSU Women’s Chorus, I can honestly say that I got the basic foundation from the music classes in elementary school. Rhythm sticks taught me the difference between a quarter note and a whole note, learning to play the recorder and xylophone taught me the fundamentals for reading music and I was exposed to the classics when we sang. I learned about Haydn, Beethoven, Grieg, Gershwin and Stevie Wonder. I saw Singing in the Rain for the first time in fifth grade music, and learned to sing songs from The Wiz. I learned about music from other cultures, like Venezuela, Ghana and China. If it weren’t for those classes, I would have struggled in choir trying to learn the difference between belting and bel canto.
Gym classes and sports are great ways for students to let off excess energy. The best days were, of course, the ones that had obstacle courses, as I got the chance to swing on ropes, cross balance beams and play with scooters, indulging myself in Indiana Jones-type fantasies. My elementary school further divided gym class into units, so every year we always did two things: we learned to dance, and we learned different ways to jump rope. I was taught the Macarena, the Electric Slide, square dancing, the grapevine, and the Martian Hop—I was never good at any of them, but it made a nice change from sprints and sit-ups. I remember enjoying the jump rope unit, because we got to learn Chinese jump rope, which involves a circular rope being stretched around the ankles of two people while a third jumps in the middle, like a giant version of cats’ cradle.
Children need to indulge their creative sides, not just parrot facts and figures. If we vote for Amendment 66, we’re not just making an investment, we’re also letting the kids make memories.
Allison Chase is a junior Creative Writing major. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.