Friday Photo: Opportunity Knocks?

Shortly after I posted this photo on Facebook I received a phone message from my mother.  She’s not a Facebook user, but became concerned after my younger brother alerted her that something might be wrong, since I posted a big red sign on my wall.

At first I had no clue what she was talking about.  I figured it was just a glitch in her understanding about Facebook.  Suddenly it dawned on me what they were worried about, and I reassured her that everything was OK.

Only, it’s not really OK.

These are difficult times for many Americans.  For teachers and students, it’s getting nearly impossible.

My school district is attempting to balance their deficit budget by laying off employees.  They’re threatening to furlough teachers again, which means at least a 5% pay cut next year.  Districts have met their March 15 layoff notification date ‘over notifying’ teachers, administrators and counselors in preparation for the state budget ‘worst case scenario’.

These people are me and my friends, my colleagues, and your child’s teachers, vice principals and counselors.  They are the people who run the after school programs children turn to for enrichment and support.  They are the teachers who used to make it easier for kids to have smaller class sizes and take elective classes that provide an alternative to core academic classes.   They are the elementary school teachers who create a stable foundation for the rest of your child’s education.

So yes, these are difficult times for me to go to work each day, wondering what my job will look like next year, what my school will look like, and what my son and his friends can expect to find as they end years of anticipation for junior high life.  These are difficult times for my daughter and her friends as they see the end of their high school years and now look forward to skyrocketing college tuition and challenging admission processes.

These are difficult times to see highly qualified professionals being released from their service.  These are difficult times to answer the probing questions from my students.  These are difficult times when I find myself questioning my 21-year career in education, and wondering how much longer it will last.

So I’m sorry, Mom.  It’s difficult to explain this sometimes.  It’s really difficult to see the opportunity here, but I’m trying.

I hope it makes you feel better to know that when I walk into my class each day, I smile.  That part is not difficult at all.



Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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  1. Agreed! Agreed, agreed, agreed! These are difficult times, times when it’s getting seemingly more and more impossible to do our jobs as our leaders put obstacle on top of obstacle before us. But you know what? We persevere, something we may not think we do, but we do. Keep your chin up, lady, and I’ll do the same!

    1. Oh thank you, Laura. Some days it just really gets to me-you know? Those days when I’ve been up until dawn grading papers, and the next day I’m planning presentations, meeting with parents, and keeping a smile on my face all day long…but today was a good day. Tomorrow will be too!

  2. Jennifer,
    A very heartfelt piece. It’s such an injustice that those that matter most, and have the most influence on future generations, have to worry about job security. And I ditto Rosann’s sentiments, only I would say, society needs to get their heads out of their asses and pay attention! Rosann is more tactful than I.

  3. This is a post that speaks to my heart. While I feel fairly secure in my teacher role, I am saddened that our para-professionals are being let go, or forced to change buildings due to bumping and lack of seniority. We all were given similar “possible pink slips” last spring, and it was scary. Several younger teachers were bumped.

    Our district is running out of money, as all are, and I mourn the loss of incredible young educators. There are ways to save money that wouldn’t affect the quality of education, but it’s unlikely that it will happen.

    Sobering post.

    1. Thanks, Sandi. Teaching isn’t the same sevure job it used to be, and even those who survive the pink slips feel the impact of having to pick up the pieces and carry on after our colleagues leave.

  4. This recession is impacting the lives of so many and unfortunately it now affects our children too. Keeping you and your fellow teachers/students in my thoughts and prayers. It’s my prayer that society will soon pull their heads out of the sand and do something about all the things we are quick to gripe about. Sadly, I think there’s an overwhelming fear and nobody really knows what the right answer is.

    Easter blessings,

  5. Jennifer as always you get right to the heart of the subject. One of the saddest parts of your piece is that you are left to doubt your 21 years in teaching. It will never make sense to me how a country that pays such lip service to education and the love of children is so willing to let it go as an answer to financial difficulties. xo

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