I’m getting very close to the breaking point. I love my job. It’s not just a job, it is my life’s work. I can’t imagine myself doing anything else. No matter how bad it gets, I will probably still be doing it 10 or 20 years from now.
But I will be certifiably insane, probably without medical care. I’ve been teaching for 18 years, and I’ve never felt this much angst in the profession. The anxiety being created in schools right now is affecting how we teach and how we live. We are being steadily ground down like No. 2 pencils.
Does anyone outside of education truly understand how stretched the school system in California is? Districts have reduced the number of days in the school year, and therefore teacher and administrator salaries (as well as time to actually educate the kids). Libraries, computer labs, and sports programs have disappeared. The size of most classes has jumped, or is jumping, from a manageable 20 to a chaotic 30 (or more). Most schools have lost all their paraprofessionals (instructional assistants/classroom aides). Reading specialists and English-as-a-Second-Language instructors are being dropped. Secretaries, custodians, bus drivers and lunch ladies have lost their jobs. Gone, kaput, zippo. School districts are being forced to make gut-wrenching choices. We have cut and cut and cut already, and we are looking for places to cut more. There are no more places to cut that will not be extremely painful for school personnel, children and families. We are down to the bare bones, and are being asked to go deeper. An exhausted and decimated educational system cannot educate.
Why am I paying, out of pocket (remember, my salary has dropped), for the failures of our governments? Why am I paying for the corporations’ greed? Why are the children being refused the tools that will help them build a future for themselves and their families, and YOU? You’re going to live to a ripe old age, aren’t you? These kids will be supporting you. Is there no concern for the common good, for the future of our kids, for the future of us?
Educators are being asked to do more with less, and continually less. In fact, while the resources diminish, the demands increase. We have requirements and standards we are expected to meet. These are not being altered. In fact, if we have not met the arbitrary requirements set for us, we are punished. So-called experts come to our schools and tell professional educators (for that is what we are) how to do our jobs. If a school doesn’t meet the criteria that are placed by some educrats in big chairs in Sacramento, then there are more demands, more consequences…but no more resources. No more money, no more materials, no more personnel to assist with the crisis. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Just more consequences.
If we took all the money spent on the educational bureaucracy that sets the unrealistic requirements (do any of these people have any familiarity with the developmental abilities of small children?), creates the rules and tests, and then condemns the schools for their lack of accomplishment, and put that money into the classroom, we might be able to do what everyone would like us to do.
How loud do we have to yell before we are heard? How many blogs have to be written, how many articles, how many news reports? It’s going to take more than screaming teachers. When will it change? Do we have to wait until the current crop of kids abysmally FAILS before people wake up? We (the collective we) can’t afford to wait that long.
Raise your hand if you are willing to pay higher taxes so that the educational system can accomplish what the bureaucracy demands. That many? That few? Those without your hands up must have your kids in private school. Corporations? Any of you willing to pony up so we don’t lose an entire generation of kids and some extremely talented educators?
Look, I love my Prop-13-nice-and-low-property-tax as much as the next person, but SOMETHING HAS TO CHANGE.
Show me the money. Elect the right people, get your butts in gear, make your voices heard, and then SHOW ME THE MONEY. Because the money will buy what we want and need, if it is put in the right places.
I hear a lot of talk, but I’m not seeing much action. And every day, I want to cry at the destruction of a profession that I love.