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.