The district has lost sight of what is truly important


Colin Barnes

Teachers are continuing to leave due to the lack of support provided to them. They’re underpaid and the programs they wrestle into continued existence are underfunded with their value and efforts unrecognised.

Dylan Zellner, Commentary Editor

James Doe marches through the windowless doors leading towards his favorite extracurricular, computer science. He’s always dreamed of becoming a computer engineer due to his love of working with his peers to solve any problem they face.

As he walks in he notices something. The classroom is full, but he’s alone. While he’s taking AP Computer Science A, everyone else is taking Web Design. Alone everyday, Doe gives up on his dream after thinking that his experience is proof that he’ll always work in solitude in this career.

While James Doe is fictional, students around campus are being forced to see the lack of support our extracurricular activities have received and the inequality of funding that programs at Bowie are receiving, both from Bowie and Austin Independent School District (AISD).

How can it be possible that our school has a surplus of funding for facilities, yet our curriculum and teachers’ salaries are lacking. I find it incredibly confusing and absurd that AISD is consistently asking for billions of dollars for new facilities yet we are seemingly at a loss for what really matters at a school; learning, exploring creativity, and those who support and provide those aspects of school.

Two billion dollars for facilities while programs and classes are being shrunk and destroyed. School funding is being attained for new facilities, sports, and luxuries that have been unknown to Bowie until only four years ago. However, our curriculum and teachers are being grossly neglected to acquire an appearance of high-class, excellence, and an overachieving private/prep school.

This apparent desire for appearance creates a deficit for a high-class, excellent, overachieving level of learning. Schools are made to expand students’ minds and encourage them to explore their own interests and strengths, but with an unavailability for students to explore oneself, the purpose of adolescence, the most important years of their life. Without access for individual exploration students lose the opportunity to find and pursue what they love.

However, what Bowie has done with the current funding to expand student comfort and the facilities needed to teach is amazing. The parking garage, theatre and fine arts area and athletics  building instantly showed their value to both students and teachers; helping students access the school safely and with ease as well as providing facilities that create an amazing learning environment.

While the pros of these new facilities are out standing, do they warrant what feels like a complete abandonment of the most important parts of school? I would say no. It’s possible to have both, but teachers and their programs continue to be neglected. Facilities are incredibly important, but school and education is built around the people. 

Teachers are continuing to leave due to the lack of support provided to them. They’re underpaid and the programs they wrestle into continued existence are underfunded with their value and efforts unrecognised. These programs are put into place for the benefit of the students and their growth.

A specific example of this can be seen in our computer science program, which is provided to students to nurture their abilities in an incredibly fast growing and worthwhile industry. In spite of their importance, computer science classes have been forced to merge with one another, forcing teachers to teach two or more classes in one period. With this increase of stress and work, there also hasn’t been any increase or change with pay. This is utterly absurd. 

The increase of stress and chaos with this program is a prime example of the lack of support Bowie and AISD have for students’ interests and growth as well as teachers’ competency, experience, and time.

Part of the underfunding of programs can also be seen with the access to supplies students and teachers are granted to use for students to pursue their passions and educational prowess. 

The issue of supplies can easily be seen through the access Bowie’s art program receives. When looking directly at art, the supplies given are few; mainly given to students straight from teachers’ wallets. In spite of the lack of recognition and lack of pay, teachers are still going out of their way spending their own money to support students. 

The way our education system is neglecting the people is painful, but do students even notice how much they’re being robbed? The main issues students have are complaints revolving around A/C, heating, and bathrooms. Very few of us focus on the programs being merged or underfunded and what that means for the education and experiences we should be gaining in this crucial time in every young individual’s life.

Bowie and AISD need to shift their focus onto what really matters: the students, their ambitions, and the teachers supporting them. AISD should be requesting money for students’ interests and supporting teachers to help students expand on them.

The only way to solve these problems is for everyone to focus on what needs to be fixed. Instead of fixating on Bowie’s facilities, focus on captivating students to learn more as well as pushing them to learn more about who they want to be and what they want to do.

While improving facilities is important, AISD’s fixation on it is harming students and teachers with how they learn and how they teach.