Mar 2, 2011

Budget Cuts as Personal

I watch the news. I see the protests. I've participated. I have the discussions and read the articles. In the past two years, I've had new hires become friends... and then watched them become latest teacher whose enthusiasm for a blossoming career in the profession is transformed into anger towards a pink slip. Their stints at this school are reduced to but a year.

However, never have I felt the brunt of budget cuts on education like I have this year. Our principal held a meeting three weeks ago where he shared "we MUST cut 1,000,000 dollars from our budget." There's no typos here. 6 zeros. One MILLION.

This year, I've had the privileged to be more involved in the behind-the-scenes work of the school. I feel like a contributor towards it's future. We put in time. We have spirited discussions. Recently, I was part of a team of 8 to visit a school in Oregon whose models towards teaching fascinated us. We want something similar. But then we're hit with news like this.

The morale's been high, especially with the promise of continued positive restructuring in our school. But the morale is clouded when a dollar amount equivalent to 25 personnel positions is on the chopping block.

I love this job. And this 4th year has brought me to unprecedented levels of passion towards my craft, my school, and, especially, my students. I walk around w/ bags under my eyes like I have in past years, but there's a new willingness to do the work. There's a smile. There's investment.

It's disheartening to think this sort of passion (that's beyond just me and shared by my colleagues) is a passion not supported by higher ups in government. The folks that play the numbers game and say education must take a cut. These cuts run deep. My principal shared, "I've been in this profession doing what I do for a long time, but I've never seen it this bad." We are expected to do more and more with less and less. We lost two math teachers last year. How many will we lose this year? What if I'm on the chopping block?


During advisory today, we had a class meeting driven by this sort of discussion. I love to hear my students opinions and I love to hear them engaged in impassioned debate. The issues brought up mirror the ones I just heard in our faculty-wide budget meeting. The students know what's up.

Three of them have taken the role of mini-activists, leading students to participate in this March 2nd day of action. More power to them. Fist in the air.

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