Photo/Amanda Caldwell Photography

Guest Viewpoint: Our students deserve better than 'up to 75%'

Posted at 4:57 PM on Jun 10, 2018

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BY KELLY WILLIAMS HOGAN

If the Iredell County commissioners knew me and knew my students, they would surely support the quarter-cent tax increase. If they saw what I do every day, the phrase “up to 75%” would be dropped from the ballot. I sincerely believe that.

If they knew my heart and how hard I’ve worked in my classroom for the past 17 years at a Title I school, they wouldn’t want to only give “up to 75%” of the money to fund education. If they sincerely understood the needs in our schools, they would surely want 100% to go to the education and safety of our young people.

If they saw me standing toe-to-toe and face-to-face with large boys from the toughest part of town, telling them daily that they are better than they think and that they are loved and capable, the commissioners would know that we deserve better than “up to 75%.”

I give my students 100% every day in hopes that they will avoid jail time, make better choices, put down the gun, get a college degree, and make a difference in this world. I pour out my heart to these kids, encouraging them, teaching them, standing firm for what’s right, managing difficult behaviors, preparing them for tests, hugging necks of kids who have been abused at home, and showing them that they are our future leaders. Because they ARE.

Me and my 900 current students are the answer to many of our county’s biggest problems. Or at least we could be.

I give my students my ALL, despite the lack of funding from the State of North Carolia. The last textbooks and materials that were purchased for my subject were the music books bought at the end of my first year of teaching -- 17 years ago. Music classrooms have been completely overlooked during “textbook adoption years” ever since. And we don’t even complain because we’re just so happy to still be employed, due to class-size issues and lack of state funding.

My students absolutely loved the free year-long trial of Quaver Music Program that we used last year. Iredell County’s music teachers begged for it to be purchased for our classrooms, but we were denied because the state once again passed us by for textbook money. Instead, our students and STPO moms sold T-shirts and donuts to help pay for the program at my school. Most music classrooms weren’t that lucky.

There are schools that need updates, safety issues that need addressed, and resources that could help change lives here in Iredell County. But if they put “up to 75% of the money will be used for education” on the ballot, people will simply vote “no” and these issues will be overlooked again. It will die a quick death on the ballot and the students and teachers will ultimately be the ones who lose.

This isn’t a political issue for me. I’m a lifelong registered, voting Republican. I’m the daughter of a Baptist minister and currently attend Western Avenue Baptist. I grew up hunting with my daddy and cleaning my own fish. I’ve stood out at Crossroads in many silent pro-life demonstrations. In other words, I’m not a liberal by any stretch.

But I will not care if there is a D or an R next to the names on the next ballot. I will know for sure who stood up for me and my students, and I will be vocal about supporting those people. I want there to be people in charge who will stop playing politics in order to do the right thing. I will wholeheartedly support the men and women who support public schools, fund our students’ educations, and put pettiness aside for the purpose of making positive changes for our county.

I’ve lived in Iredell County my entire life. I love this place and have a passion for its people, especially the children. I’m not rich, but I would gladly pay this small tax increase in order to support the amazing work that happens every day in Iredell County’s public schools. We are working miracles here, giving 100% for our children. I’m simply asking our commissioners to do the same.

Kelly Williams Hogan teaches at East Iredell Elementary School.

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