Let me go on record by saying that I loved school when I was young, and I loved my teachers even more. Most of my teachers were very kind, patient and smart. Well, I sure thought they knew a lot. My experience was a little unusual from most, as I attended schools in England, Italy, the Netherlands and the United States. And now as a grown up, I count teachers as my friends.

I have not yet fully understood the entire Dutch educational system, but there is one big difference between education here and in America. In America, each state has an educational department with their own regulations, etc. and there are cities, towns and districts who run and fund the schools. In the Netherlands, education is completely funded by the national government. That means that schools are funded the same across the country…living in a upper middle class town does not mean that that school gets more money than a school in a poorer town. Teachers are paid the same rate across the country. You do not get a larger salary because you teach in Amsterdam or if you teach in a dinkie town. Schools receive money based on how many students are in that school. Children are supposed to have the same educational opportunities as children from all over the country.

On March 6, the teachers held a one day strike. Two thousand schools were closed and 50,000 teachers did not go to school. Instead, most of them went to a rally at the football stadium in Amsterdam. They were protesting the proposed cuts from the education budget. The proposal was to cut 300 million euros from the 3.7 billion euro budget earmarked for education. The teachers say that this will greatly impact special needs education, their hours will increase and salaries will be frozen. The government has admitted that 5000 jobs will be eliminated with these cuts.

Obviously, not everyone in government is happy with these cuts. But on March 6, the politicians voted to support the proposed cuts, and it won by a close margin. I am not sure what hope there is for the education budget to be saved, but it does not look good.

All I know is that children with speciaI needs need special attention. A classroom teacher cannot do it all alone….they can only juggle so many things at the same time. This is a world-wide problem, how to give teachers the support they need and want. The bottom line is to make sure the children are getting the very best, in all aspects of life. I know that I dearly loved my time in school (except for math) and I truly respected my teachers. When I hear stories about education cuts, I just say “find the money, just find the money.” If only life was that easy.

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  • Aledys Ver  On March 7, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    It is remarkable the kind of choices this coalition gov’t seems to be making. If you have to introduce cuts in your budget – why go to one of the most vulnerable areas: kids, young people, our future; and on top of that, those who are the most vulnerable within that group, children with special needs? It doesn’t make sense to me.

  • Janet Boutilier  On June 16, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    Have you read “The Last Nude” by Ellis Avery, a novel about Tamara de Lempicka? I’d be interested in what you think of it.

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