No state representative response

Eric Nilsson is the director of the Chico High Academic Mentoring Program

It is a tragedy that the recent passing of the state budget by the California Legislature left the Chico High School Academic Mentoring Program without funding in the third year of a three-year funding cycle.

We worked tirelessly over the last two years to build a program that provided one-on-one mentors for 225 students on our campus, many of them at-risk academically. All of the more than 200 mentors volunteered their time to these young people in a community effort that truly makes a difference in their lives.

The Academic Volunteer Mentor Support Program (AVMSP) was to provide one more year of funding to Chico High at $100,000. In prior years, the money was used to provide a structure for the volunteer mentors and their mentees to work within. Statewide, the AVMSP provided mentoring for more than 11,000 students.

It is difficult enough to see this program so suddenly end, but it is even more difficult to accept the near-complete inattention of our requests from both Assemblymember Rick Keene and Senator Sam Aanestad to listen to our concerns and act as an advocate for the young people in their districts.

Mentors, parents and educators from our community wrote letters, sent e-mails and made phone calls. We visited the offices of both of our representatives in Sacramento. We made a presentation to Keene’s representatives in the Chico office about the program so that he would have a clear idea of the positive effect this was having on young people.

There was but one token response from the offices of Keene and Aanestad­a form letter that intimated the entire budget logjam was the fault of the Democrats.

This is not representation. This is more the picture of partisan politics, a kind of partisan politics that does not have these representatives’ constituency as the first priority.

We would simply like to know, “Where have Assemblymember Keene and Senator Aanestad been?” Had they taken just a couple of minutes to talk with us, they would have understood that young people were graduating because they had caring adults in their lives who were helping them to succeed academically.

Our program is miniscule if you measure it in terms of the amount of money it receives, but our program represents the humble acts of people in our community who want to serve, voluntarily, and make a difference in young people’s lives. Assemblymember Keene and Senator Aanestad might have understood this, but our efforts fell on deaf ears. The question is why. It would seem that their offices need to make some changes so that their constituents are heard and government supports valuable programs in our state.