It makes me sick that in one day, 182 teachers across the district lost their jobs because of a budget shortfall – as if they were simply a line item like school supplies or after-school clubs.
It makes me sick that the ones who signed up for this unglamorous job of loving kids even when it’s tough, teaching them even when they’re two or three years behind grade level, and greeting them every day with a smile even when worried sick about them – these are the ones that were told, “You have to go.”
It makes me sick that the only ones who can actually make a hands-on difference in these kids’ lives – who can help achieve the district’s motto of “Excellence for everyone” – were the ones dismissed.
And those of us who are left? Oh, you’ll be fine with 28-35 kids in your class because doesn’t “research show that kids learn better in a bigger class environment”?
The most important key to learning is the relationship between teacher and student. The relationship that allows the teacher to know what’s best for that kid. The relationship that builds trust and love and support to push that kid to go farther because his teacher believes in him. The relationship that gives her a safe place to go when home is in upheaval.
And when you rearrange numbers in distant offices to show that you can make it work, you forget that the more kids there are, the less that deep relationships can be built. The more kids there are, the less learning happens, because more time has to be spent on solving classroom issues. The more kids there are, the more likely it is that many will fall through the cracks because one teacher is being spread too thin, and she simply can’t get to them all.
When multiple teachers are gone, and the remaining ones have to try to compensate, the quality of education goes into a downward spiral quickly. When you remove positions like librarians, you will end up with a future generation who doesn’t cherish reading, who doesn’t understand the importance of quality research, and who are deprived of important technology skills.
When the teachers are gone, the kids will suffer. That little autistic boy will be lost because his teacher won’t be able to reinforce his routine and make sure he knows what he’s doing. That quiet little girl living in trauma will get overlooked because her teacher will be too overwhelmed with a hundred different things. The struggling students will fall farther behind because there just won’t be time to do intervention with them all. And in fact, there might be so many papers to grade that there will never be a time for the kids to learn from their mistakes and hone their skills.
The teachers who are left will suffer greatly from the strain on their mental health, and at some point, may realize it’s just not worth it and walk away to go somewhere they’re more appreciated. To a job where skills are actually respected and rewarded, not dismissed or taken advantage of. And then who will be left to teach the children?
It is sad, isn’t it, to think that we value the education of our future society members and work force so little that we can remove the key players with one stroke of a budget line?
Teachers are the ones who make change happen in the hearts and minds of our students. Not lawmakers, not politicians, not computers, not curriculums.
Teachers are the only ones who can look into the eyes of children who trust them and love them, one hundred-eighty days a year, five days a week, and inspire them to become something great.
Remove the teachers, and all that success and excellence we’ve been working so hard toward will begin to crumble. We cannot afford to lose them when we need them now more than ever.
And though it might seem like an uphill battle, I will not stop fighting for all those kids I’m blessed to call my own.
They deserve to receive the best education we can give them.
Which means they deserve their teachers – back in their classrooms.