I have heard rumblings for a few months now about multiple states that were getting ready to do the unthinkable- cut the numbers of teachers within their school districts. I kept thinking that could not be at all possible until I had a recent visit from a former neighbor who had relocated from the Mid-Atlantic region to a state in the deep south. Her husband, “Jack”, had been encouraged by people within the education community to leave behind his sales job and go back to school to become a math teacher.
Jack jumped at the chance of changing his career and helping high school students understand math successfully. This was his dream and he was assured that positions were plentiful, especially with high – risk students. He was three years in to his studies when the floor dropped out from under him. The initiatives that would have guaranteed him a job teaching math in a high school that was designated as “in need of support” all the sudden was cutting teaching positions versus adding them, as was the plan.
How could this be? What happened to all the reasons that were clearly outlined as to why the state and school district needed to fund additional teaching positions, especially for schools that were “under – performing” or “with critical needs”? Not only were all the newly trained teachers “on hold” as no new teaching positions would be available, but many of the expected retiring teachers no longer could leave their current jobs due to the state of the economy.
Then I received a call from someone close to me, my niece. She graduated a year ago, the top of her class at her university with two degrees- elementary education and Spanish. “Janie” had hopes that like our friend, she too would be able to work with children who were from inner city schools that were in grades K-6. This magna cum laude could not find one job. It has been a year- no teaching job to be found in the public or private sector. She took a low paying teaching assistants job and had to move back with her parents as her salary didn’t pay for rent let alone other expenses.
Janie still has the drive and desire to teach, but she has now joined the vast growing number of unemployed people holding full teacher certification who want to be in the classroom. My family member did all the right things and now has all the wrong perceptions of what being a teacher is all about. Instead of setting up a classroom and using the tools she has acquired over four years of intensive training, she is working at menial jobs for a very low salary. She is considering leaving the field of teaching before she really got started.
Why have I written about my two connections with the state of affairs in the teaching world? It is because I too am a proud educator who will not sit quietly as teaching staff is being reduced nationwide. I will not be quiet about programs being cut that are often the very reason why children go to school. We often maintain students in our schools because of the ancillary programs that are integrated with the core academics. How many students will leave upon their 16th birthdays if they cannot participate in sports or the performing arts? These are the programs that often hold kids in our schools! How many students will lose their competitive edge for college when they don’t have a “well rounded high school experience” reflected on their transcripts? How can schools even think about terminating much of their foreign language programs when many of our schools are filled with bilingual- bicultural children? (And don’t get me started about school districts that are cutting full classes of students wishing to take American Sign Language- ASL- which is the fourth most commonly used language in the U.S today!)
So, I ask my readers to do the following if you now have chosen not to sit quietly either. First, read the facts for yourselves. The National Education Association (NEA) has long advocated for keeping teachers in the classrooms and even adding staff where needed. They are a huge advocacy group for children and their families. I have great admiration and respect for their platforms. Here is a helpful link that provides information that I think you will find of value with understanding the current needs and why we all need to be proactive within the next few days: http://www.educationvotes.nea.org. Then please go to this link to let your elected officials know exactly how you feel about this situation. I hope that you are as outraged as I am. I hope that you will advocate for teachers, children and families everywhere in the U.S. by letting your representatives know that these individuals come first.
I don’t want to fathom an educational system where children are in classes that exceed the size of conventional wisdom. I don’t want to think of special needs children without trained staff support within the classrooms. I really don’t want to think that all the decades of research and observations that have told us what are the best practices for education will be tossed out the window because we are not following the common knowledge known to every fifth grader – It is the teachers and special school programs that make students well educated and happy.
To find your state officials please see this link: http://bit.ly/8ZBh8M Please reach out to them asap. The vote is imminent.
Please don’t sit quietly. I hope you will share this information with others. I look forward to reading your Tweets. Feel free to add this hashtag #EducationJobsFund to ones related to this cause, as I will- Thank you!
And as I often do…. here are my opinions in sign language….