Wednesday, March 28, 2018

About this #OklaEd funding crisis...

I’m going to be honest friends, I’m torn, confused, and discouraged.  
I want to be excited about HB1010xx.  I know hours of work went into preparing the bill.  I appreciate the fact that Republicans and Democrats came together to pass legislation to fund public education. Maybe if I was just looking for was a pay raise I could be happy…BUT folks what I really want is a solution to the teacher shortage, and I don’t believe $5,000 is going to cut it. Some say it’s a start, and I could get on board with that kind of thinking, but I’m not so sure it’s being viewed as a start…it seems like it’s supposed to be the fix.
Last year I had 29 first graders in my class.  It wasn’t because the district wouldn’t hire another teacher, it was because there were no qualified applicants.  This scenario is common across our state…TEACHERS ARE LEAVING!  If they’re not leaving the state they’re leaving the profession.  Our Education grads are being recruited by other states, and they’re gladly going.  Many 1st year teachers in Texas make more than I do after 8 years.  Fewer and fewer young people are choosing to become teachers and who can blame them? 
I don’t claim to be the best teacher out there, but I get the job done.  I love my students and am committed to working to meet their individual needs…however that was hard to do with 29 first graders.  I went home most days feeling defeated because I didn’t feel like I had done enough.  Studies show that small group instruction is most effective…but imagine trying to see 29 students in small groups for math and reading, providing hands on learning opportunities, centers/stations and still making time for science, and social studies. It’s no easy task. Not to mention the space issue…most classrooms are not designed to hold 29 students. Our kids deserve better!!!
I don’t know what needs to happen for our communities and government to value children.  We can say we value them, but if we won’t fund education making sure they have highly qualified teachers, small class sizes, and quality learning environments…where is the evidence that they’re valued.
Please understand education today isn’t what it was 20 or even 10 years ago.  I’ve seen posts saying things like “Teachers need to stop complaining, they knew what they were getting into”. My response to that is yes, I did, I knew what I was getting into 20 years ago…but it was nothing like teaching today.  Yes, teacher pay was low but I assumed there would be more pay increase over the years. As far as academics go, my first teaching job was teaching kindergarten a little over 20 years ago.  My students learned to tie their shoes, say their address, phone number, write their name, recognize letters and sounds, recognize numbers, count, etc.  Fast forward to 2018 and I’m teaching kindergarteners to write their name, numbers, add, subtracts, read, read 61+ sight words, write sentences etc. And kindergarten is not the exception…if you haven’t been in a classroom for a while you might be surprised by the amount of material being taught.   Top all of that off with the pressures of standardized testing…Nope I Didn’t Know What I Was Getting Into.  College students today have the option to study Education. I know there are many who have a heart for service and some may even want to become teachers, but they see what they would be getting into, they see the lack of respect, the pressure, the pay…and they’re choosing another path.
I have such respect for the young teachers who have chosen to teach despite it all.  Thank you for choosing to teach…and thank you for choosing to stay!!!
I don’t have the answers…I don’t know how we pull ourselves out of this ditch…it may take time…but we have to find a way.

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