Pacific Daily News

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (June 23, 2008) - The government of Guam must adequately address the concerns of federal education officials by this Friday or risk losing at least US$20 million of grant money for various education programs.

GovGuam must show the Guam Public School System’s management structure is stable, or that it’s working to improve the lack of leadership at GPSS. GovGuam officials must also demonstrate they can plan for and properly manage the federal funding it receives to serve Guam’s students, and that they will meet all federal funding requirements.

We can’t afford to lose federal funding for these critical programs, which help enrich our students and help those falling behind. The suspension of federal dollars for these programs, on which many in our community depend, will place many families in tough situations.

For example, the Department of Education Extended Day, or DEED, program provides affordable after-school care for thousands of elementary students whose parents work or are full-time students. DEED provides educational enrichment through academic and physical activities in a safe environment.

For many households in which both parents work, losing this program will force parents to make some very tough decisions.

It could mean one of the parents having to quit his or her job to watch over the children. It could mean leaving the kids at a friend or relative’s house, where they just sit in front of the television. It could mean cutting their budget for utilities or groceries so they can afford after-school daycare services.

The Guam Education Policy Board’s interference with federal programs and its micromanagement of the school system has placed these funds at risk. Their responses to the warnings of U.S. DOE officials show they are willing to snub their noses at all this federal funding. And the inaction of elected officials has worsened the situation.

Elected officials will have a lot to answer to if funding for these programs are suspended. They must prove to federal DOE officials -- as well as to students and parents -- that they are committed to overhauling the management of our public education system in order to ensure stability. They must prove they will be accountable for the millions of dollars in grant money.

Our elected officials have no time to lose.

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