It’s been nearly two months since I’ve posted anything.
Notice I said “posted”, not “written”. I’ve started several posts, at least four. None of them came to fruition. The idea didn’t “gel”, or I wasn’t in the mood to solicit arguments where the more controversial ideas were concerned.
A number of minor, albeit annoying, issues have beset my family over the past months. Medical issues, family issues, money issues, new house issues, gophers-in-the-yard issues, what-is-that-smell-and-where-is-it-coming-from issues, and a number of other things that come along with moving to a “new” 50-year-old home.
I’m tired, folks.
In the education world, I notice morale is low. Many “money-saving” steps were taken concerning personnel in all districts, but those jobs still have to be done by somebody. That makes for a lot of frazzled people trying to wear multiple hats, some of which may be a poor fit. Class sizes are up, course offerings are down. Allocated funds for activities are gone, and kids and parents are expected to make up the difference. Even “essentials” like textbooks and curriculum are now a luxury.
And yet, teachers are putting on their happy faces because two things are still true:
- It’s going to get worse before it gets better.
- None of this is the kids’ fault.
“It’s not the kids…”
You don’t know how many times a colleague has said those words to me in the past few months—how many times I’ve said them to myself—in conversations about how frustrating it is to work in public education right now. I still find joy in working with kids. It still energizes me. It still fulfills me. It still keeps me on my toes. I still look forward to walking in my classroom each day. My students continue to surprise me, in good ways. Teaching is still a rollercoaster. I still love teaching. I just wish I could spend more time loving it, and less time wondering if I can afford it. Wondering what it’s costing my family, and not just financially.
Because, after all, “it’s not the kids” that have me wondering what the future holds for me. It’s the voters in our state.
I have this feeling I can’t shake that many teachers are watching, waiting to see what happens in November before committing to one more year in Oklahoma. Will we elect some legislators who pledge to offer viable solutions to solving our budget woes, our teacher crisis, and the poor work climate for educators in our state? Will we pass SQ779, to raise teacher pay and hopefully stem the flow of educators from Oklahoma to every surrounding state…or any other state in the country save for one?
The problems facing schools, facing educators, and ultimately students have been mounting for years. Many of us grow weary of playing the part of the Lorax. We saw this coming. We warned. We yelled. We pleaded. We finally realized that, while many were oblivious, others saw it coming, too, and wanted it to happen. We’re at an important crossroads. We’re at a critical tipping point.
As we see the conversations heat up for elections in November, particularly for teacher candidates running for office and for SQ779, I hope we will ask ourselves some important questions. Who’s to blame for this debacle? Who will benefit from perpetuating the teacher shortage? Who stands to profit from privatization of public schools? Who stands to gain from continuing down this path of destroying public education?
Because…it’s not the kids.