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Commentary: Cutting education not the answer

By Kaley Consford/J-Line Writer ~

Teacher’s lives have been completely altered because of the state’s $27 billion budget shortfall. Teachers will be searching for jobs that cease to even exist as the economy crashes. People who aspired to educate students, and worked hard to be able to share their compassion for knowledge with them, have had their dreams taken away.

Texas teachers are being both encouraged and forced to leave in order to try and fill the gap of an empty budget, yet Gov. Rick Perry still resists opening the $9.4 billion Rainy Day fund. Perry has agreed to dip into the fund this year, but is against using any of the money beyond the current budget year.

Opening up the fund doesn’t make Texas look weak; it just shows that Texas needs help.

Cutting teacher’s contracts and making classes larger will not result in anything beneficial for students or teachers. According to the TLC (Teaching Large Classes) Project, larger class sizes pose significant teaching challenges

The first-year contract teachers being laid off in Humble ISD are not the only cuts being made. Extracurricular activities may also be trimmed or eliminated. Sports, music, fine arts, and clubs are all in danger. According to the American Association of School Administrations, 15 percent of districts are eliminating bus routes and modifying extracurricular offerings or sports

That’s not fair to the students.

To take away teachers is one thing, but to take away the source of school spirit and enjoyable activities is like taking away the meaning of school for many students.

The budget crisis is not just hitting Humble ISD. The entire state is in peril. It’s evident that Texas needs help and that changes do need to be made, but the way Texas has approached this situation is not helping anyone.

Instead, it’s ruining teacher’s lives and creating a grim outlook for the future of education — and the future of the state.

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Commentary: Hand in hand, making a better world

By Kaley Consford/J-Line Writer ~               

A dry, hot, and deprived land. That is what the volunteers for H2JoJo first saw when arriving in Nelspruit, South Africa. Seeing this, the students and teachers from Humble ISD knew more than ever that they had never suffered the way these people have, that now was the time to realize nothing is ever as awful as it seems, and that all one person can do is try to make a difference.

Seven students and five teachers spent time and money planning their mission to South Africa. Their main goal: bring clean water. However, just by going on this trip, they are inspiring others to help make the world a better place.  

The water in South Africa is “not accessible,” said teacher-volunteer Shannon O’Brien. The H2Jojo group bought a total of five jugs — one 10,000- liter can and four 1,250-gallon containers — each to be filled with clean filtered water for township schools where children have nothing but deadly contaminated water.

 According to the Ghana News Agency, mortality resulting from the consumption of contaminated food and water in South Africa is around 700,000 annually.

By going on this trip, the H2Jojo group not only gave clean water, but also completed a promise to fill underprivileged children’s’ lives with hope and health and a future.

This trip also changed the lives of the Humble ISD students. It showed them what life is truly about by revealing that our own selfishness should be replaced with the desire to make a difference for someone else.

 “You realize it has nothing to do with you, because these children live like this every day,” said O’Brien. “When we’re gone, that water will still be there, and that’s the story, being able to know you’re increasing the chances of a child having a better life.”

Everyday Americans also face major struggles in life, but little that goes wrong in our world can compare to anything that goes on in the world of children without clean water and confronted by deprivation. Yet, while we complain “they all seem really happy.”

If more students or people in general contributed to a devastating situation and took a step out of their egotistical world, perhaps lives would slowly begin to change forever.

Just by dedicating time and effort for two weeks, lives were changed in South Africa — not only for the children who were given water, but also for the people who gave them water.

 As time goes on, Americans will still be selfish and South Africans will still be suffering, but if more people are inspired to make a difference then two completely different worlds may come together hand-in-hand and alter the outlook on life perpetually.

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Commentary: A tradition of giving

By Kaley Consford/J-Line Writer ~

The sound of the cold brisk air rustling wrapping paper was all that could be heard on a recent Friday afternoon, as 73 “Patrielves” snuck silently into Lakeland Elementary School.

As we got closer to the cafeteria where we would surprise children with Christmas gifts, the chatter of small children grew from a faint murmur to an excited buzz.

During the holiday season, the Atascocita High School Patriettes dance team is transformed into the “Patrielves” as we splurge our money on presents that are greatly needed and wanted by a child who lives in poverty.

Every year, underprivileged children are chosen from Lakeland Elementary to receive what may be their only Christmas present.

Bikes are piled into truck beds. Clothes are wrapped and tightly fitted into cars. Toothbrushes, baby dolls, and car toys are stuffed into huge Santa bags. Each of these items is given just to see a child have a joyful Christmas.

“We do it for the kids,” said director Melissa Rayburn.” Just to be able to see them smile is what makes this experience worthwhile for the girls.”

That is exactly why the Patriettes participate in this charitable experience. To give joy to someone else is what truly makes Christmas the giving season.

It’s our opportunity to give a child not only a great present, but a Christmas they will never forget. It’s an opportunity to think not only about our own desires this holiday season, but about those who do not always have a Christmas to enjoy.

Perhaps, as the years go on, this tradition will influence others to give someone an unforgettable gift — the gift of realizing that someone out there cares for them.

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