While North County school districts received a small degree of relief with last month’s state budget figures that announced a $602 million reinstatement of the state aid that school officials say is crucial to maintaining education programs for their students, and an overall fund increase of $1.1 billion, we feel as if more needs to be done to explore more creative ways of bridging the budget shortfalls that continue to plague districts.
Reach out to alumni. It’s a bitter pill to swallow that the North Country is hemorrhaging young people as they leave the region in droves for higher education and career paths outward. A crucial argument underpinning the need to keep districts intact is that they’ve fostered collective senses of shared schematic experience; of a group identity; of experiences that have shaped young minds into the adults they are today. If their salad days have played such a crucial role in their development, then it bears to reason that graduates who’ve fanned across the globe wouldn’t mind kicking in some coin to ensure that those who follow in their footsteps are ensured the same priceless experiences.
Look outward. Make use of the federal F-1 visa program that requires foreign students to pay tuition to study at American high schools. Between 2007 and 2012, the number of F-1 students at American high schools increased tenfold, and the number is only set to increase as formerly insular countries across the Middle East and Asia begin to realize the value of globalization. But despite our gregarious and welcoming nature, America has an odd, often contradictory and politicized viewpoint towards immigration and if our rural school districts want to remain intact, they need to capitalize on the legions of international learners who view the American education system as the juicy apple towards future sustainability and want nothing more to learn English and the soft cultural skills required to catapult themselves onto the global playing field.