Friday, May 22, 2009

Death of a Program - PAT

It's a sad week in our school. Illinois budget cuts have hit close to home. You'll all be happy to know that Parents As Teachers has received its grant approval for next school year. Unfortunately, there's no $$ to go with it. Our school system hasn't gotten paid for PAT since December. They have elected to cut the program altogether for next year, since the state isn't timely in it's payments. If the state starts sending $, the full-time and part-time teachers could be rehired, but it's not likely, and they might actually need to move on with their lives and earn a paycheck. Those are the facts.

Here's the emotion. I have spent 7 years of my life involved with PAT. Janet had to chase me down in the midst of gutting our bathroom and redoing plumbing in the basement when Evan was born. Boy, she was persistent in that "new baby" visit! Lynn entered the picture about the time Colby was born. They have walked with and supported us through the 2 kids, infertility and ovary surgery, Tom's illness, several deaths and how to help the kids cope, my adventure in providing home daycare and getting Colby into speech. And we aren't exactly an "at risk" family!

PAT has been cut in the hopes of saving the pre-k program, but it's part of the same grant funding. If there is no $, there is no pre-k. I was counting on that for Colby next year. There is another preschool in town, and we are lucky to have been fairly untouched by the economy. I can pay for Colby to go to preschool. There are plenty of his classmates whose parents cannot. What about the truly "at risk" folks in town? I have seen a few through my daycare days. It's not pretty.

I am so appreciative of what the PAT program has provided us. My kids have now aged out of the 0-3 years, and I am grateful for the learning they have received. Unfortunately, we are now in a town with no commercial day care, and no school involvement for the 0-3 years. It's one more strike against the youth of our community. What does our town offer my kids to come back and raise their kids here? No jobs, nothing in the community for the twenty-somethings except bars or church, nothing for the young family until they are old enough to play city baseball. I was raised in a large college town, and chose to live my adult life in urban areas. I didn't want to live in this cornfield when we got married. My job was 40 miles away. Tom's family was here, and he didn't mind a crazy commute. I went from working 1 1/2 jobs to part-time with a baby and the only people I knew were the family I married into. I needed PAT to help me meet the folks in town and make connections to survive. PAT is one of the first community activities I got involved with. I found people from church there, and we still meet every Thursday for "Jesus Lite," aka Women of Faith.

So when the state has gone to hell in a handbasket and nobody from Illinois can pass literacy tests in 25 years, here's why. Political decisions were made by corrupt politicians with no thought about the future. I won't have social security. Our kids won't have early intervention when they need it. Stop making my children pay as adults for stupid shit we are doing now!!

Soapbox away.

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