Tuesday, June 01, 2010

As I think about cleaning and packing for the summer months, I am saddended at the thoughts of next school year. With the overwhelming budgets and staff shuffling, our middle school will no longer be the same, with no hope on the horizon to restore it. When the dust settles, there will be but 5 people who teach only middle school. That leaves 5 teachers for this vulnerable group of kids to turn to, to identify with, and to bond with. The rest of their day will be with teachers who teach a random section of this or that in middle school, but spend the rest of their day teaching high school or elementary. They will have no real ties to the middle school or the students here.

Middle school students are at such a crucial time in their lives, with physical and emotional changes constantly happening to their bodies. They need consistency, caring, competency, and most of all, a knowledge that they are accepted for who they are, the ever-changing thems from day to day.

I understand that our school finances are in dire straits. I really do get that. I don't know that given the magic pen to make the schedule myself, I would be able to create something more supportive of our students.

However, I am greatly saddened to imagine the impact this is going to have on our students.

On top of the staffing changes, budget cuts to supplies are such that my pitiful allotment of $100 will barely cover the basics of markers for my whiteboards, let alone things like lined paper and pencils for students who cannot/will not supply their own. What about things like poster board for projects, markers, graph paper, glue? Forget new posters for my classroom walls, or new atlases to replace the ones in shreds from being used for the past 5 years. Forget tape, staples, white out, the simple basic office supplies to run a classroom. Forget construction paper, tagboard, new math manipulatives. Forget highlighters, index cards, and postit notes to help students organize their social studies learning. Don't even consider replacing the tables in my classroom that wobble and creak when a student bumps against them. Don't imagine things like SmartBoards, or electronic response tools for students. Always, I have forked over money, as all teachers do, to buy classroom supplies for general use or for needy students. However, with my own salary being slashed next year, where will THIS money come from? I certainly won't be able to make up the missing items from my own funds.

Can you imagine a hospital in the United States that did not supply its emergency room or operating room with sterile bandages, tape, disfectancts, or sutures but instead expected the doctors and nurses to bring in their own supplies? Can you imagine a corporate office where the CEO had to carry in his own box of Kleenex for his desk? Can you imagine telling the engineer at the aeronautics lab providing his own soap for the restroom? But routinely, we expect teachers to do these things!

I am saddened by the state of education today. I am saddened to think how little the legislature thinks of my job, the child who walk through doors, and how far reaching the impact of their decisions will be.

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