What’s At Stake – Athena Stuart

Athena quote

Dear Opponents of Invest in Education,

An open letter by a minority, a mother and first-generation graduate student:

The first school I ever attended was Omega academy, never heard of it? Yeah probably not….that’s because it doesn’t exist anymore. Omega academy was in the slums of Phoenix. Conveniently located near the very first home we lived in and just down the road from the corner of Van Buren; if you are an Arizona native you know that corner was known for drugs and prostitution. Omega Academy was a second home to me. My mother was a kindergarten teacher there, so we spent way more hours there than we should have. At the time, I did not see anything wrong with that school. I had friends there, life was good. 

Fast forward a couple of years, my immigrant parents become citizens and are ready to take the next step in their lives. Constantly seeking new opportunities, my dad was granted a new job in a better part of town. This meant moving schools for me and my siblings and with a new school came a completely new worldview. All of a sudden, I’m learning through a smartboard, books were in better condition, teachers were more constant. This is not what I was used to. I quickly adapted to this new normal, it made me feel like my learning mattered. The teachers seemed more concerned with how well I was doing in school and all of a sudden I cared more about how well I was doing. Today, I realized how grateful I am to have attended a school where my learning mattered. Often I think about how different my life would have been had I stayed at Omega Academy. Omega’s classrooms were trailers. Omega’s teachers were always quitting and Omega’s parent involvement was little to none. It was a school hanging by a thread and it’s because it had such little funding. But one thing I will always remember about Omega are the kids I shared the classroom with. I remember how eager they were to learn but how little encouragement they had because of parents who were constantly struggling to make ends meet. Kids who would ask the teacher to take spare lunches home because they had no food at home. Kids who would ask my mom to adopt them because they had no parent figure to care for them. I didn’t understand then, the inequities I was surrounded in. I understand now. Every child deserves an education that sets them up for success. It shouldn’t matter when you live or what your life circumstances are. Education is a right and freedom that should not come with a societal price tag. These kids are our future. The future doctors, the future engineers, the future architects, veterinarians, and even the future unemployed….FUNDING public schools and giving every child an equal opportunity can help secure the odds for them and not against them. Giving each child a chance to succeed will develop more leaders, more dreamers and more do-ers. This is why I support Invest in Education. How will you vote?

-Not a statistic

Athena Stuart
Parent of a Student

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