When I was about to enter the fourth grade, my mother sat me down and said, “Susie, you’re going to a new school. When you’re at your new school, you can never go over to the homes of your classmates or invite these classmates to your home. You’re also going to have to tell the people at your new school that you live somewhere else. You are never to tell the school or your friends at school where you really live.”

What I didn’t realize all those many decades ago was that my mother understood that my educational future was being determined by the ZIP code where I lived. The ZIP code of my neighborhood school was located in one of the poorer sections of the city where I grew up. The ZIP code of the school I would begin attending in the fourth grade was located in a better section of my hometown.

Thus, my mother felt the only way for me to get a “better” education was to lie about where I lived.

I support the Stand Up for Students referendum on the November ballot as a way to help close the opportunity gap for Maine students when it comes to the quality of their education by increasing funding for education with a surtax on higher income. No matter what ZIP code in which a Maine child lives, he or she deserves the right to an education that will prepare him or her for a rapidly changing local and global world.

For the past 16 years, I have been an early childhood educator at a rural coastal elementary school in Washington County. During my 16 years as an educator, the issues of poverty and despair over an uncertain future have slowly made their way into the hallways, classrooms and onto the playgrounds of our Washington County schools.

I look at the Stand Up for Students ballot initiative, which would bring $157 million to public schools each year, as a way to help address these issues.

Guidance counselors, school nurses and mental health consultants in every Maine school: Maine students deserve the right to have access to a guidance counselor, a school nurse and a mental health consultant, no matter the ZIP code of their school. With the impact of poverty and the rise of opioid addiction in our communities, more Maine children are coming into our schools having experienced some form of trauma. How can a child focus on academics if they are feeling overwhelmed because of issues they might not be developmentally able to handle? Having specially trained medical and mental health professionals in our Maine schools on a daily basis can help give the needed support our at-risk students may need in order to be successful in school.

Field trips: Yes, I said field trips. How can school’s inspire and motivate today’s learner if students aren’t allowed beyond the four walls of their school or the boundaries of their hometown when it comes to their learning? Students learn best by having the opportunity to see and experience what they are learning. Maine and its neighboring states are exciting places that have a wealth of rich and wonderful resources for students to learn about and explore. In order for our students to grow up so they are prepared for tomorrow’s workforce and ready to adapt to an ever-changing world, these students need the opportunity to experience the world that is outside their school and hometown.

Yet, guidance counselors, school nurses, mental health consultants and field trips cost money.

The Stand Up for Students ballot initiative brings tax fairness back into Maine by creating a 3 percent surcharge on any income over $200,000 annually, with the proceeds to be used toward funding pre-K through grade 12 public education.The ballot initiative would generate an additional $157 million for public schools statewide, with the money to be used for direct classroom instruction benefiting Maine’s roughly 180,000 students. This surcharge affects just 2 percent of Maine taxpayers.

In 1974, my mom lied about where we lived to get me into a school that was located in a better ZIP code. It’s 2016. All Maine schools should be funded properly, regardless of their ZIP code.

Suzen Polk-Hoffses is a pre-K teacher in Washington County and was the 2014 Finalist for Maine Teacher of the Year.