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Its not our job to raise money

This year, Oregon students have been forced to deal with the state's continuing economic crisis. With revenues falling far short of projections, the state has been forced to make cutbacks in social services, health care and education.

For Portland students, parents and teachers, the cuts have hit harder than ever before. Last year, two elementary schools were closed, and this year four others have been mentioned for possible closure. When the district announced its intent of cutting more than 20 days from this school year, citizens became even more concerned.

Adding to the overall frustration is the threat to eliminate sports from the Portland Interscholastic League. For many students, sports are more than just an after-school activity. Sports are a way to keep student-athletes focused on academics by setting attendance and grade requirements. They help students look to the future and achieve goals.

Moreover, school sports have benefits that can extend beyond the participants. Sports promote school spirit and competition and provide a safe avenue for fun to participants, parents and spectators.

With more than 30 percent of Portland high school students participating in athletics, these threats have not gone unnoticed. Students from every PIL school have put their mascots and colors aside and joined together in an effort known as 'Save PIL Athletics.'

The need is great. More than $2 million is needed to fund sports for the next academic year. Students have rallied at local stores to accept donations and raise community awareness.

As awareness rises, though, so does the frustration Ñ frustration that will hopefully lead to positive change. The question at hand is: Whose job should raising and distributing funds be?

Should students be required to raise $2 million in order to partake in athletics and other school-sanctioned activities? A similar question might be: Should employees be required to personally raise the money needed to pay their salaries while working at the same time? Just as it is not the employees' job to come up with the money to pay their own salaries, the job of students should not be that of fund-raiser for their education, athletics or other activities. The responsibility should fall on those who have been elected to generate and allocate the funds needed for public services.

Portland students have shown that we are willing to work by joining together and raising the half-million dollars needed to fund spring sports. However, the responsibility cannot continue to fall on our shoulders. Education has been hit hard enough. While educators continue to be cut from each school and days continue to be lost from the school year, there needs to be a change: A shift in priorities within the government is required.

We are the future of this city, state and nation. We deserve to be provided with all that is needed to take us higher.

Shaphan Thomas is a senior at Roosevelt High School and a representative to the student council. He lives in St. Johns.