As I turned on my classroom lights this morning, I saw an envelope, sitting, in the middle of the floor. It was out of place. I paused as I picked it up, wondering. Someone had slipped the envelope under my door late last night (I left school at 6 pm) or the did so early this morning (I arrived at 7 am).
The note was from a former student. As I read, I was torn between the emotional beauty of being a teacher, and the sad reality of how Washington State views its teachers. I believe this is a feeling many teachers have had recently.
It was a complementary note. Just what I needed. Somehow timed right, thanking me as a teacher that impacted her life as a writer. I have been in a funk lately. An education-budget-precipitated funk.
After reading her note, I felt a pang of conflict. Only the night before, I discussed other employment options with my wife.
I will stay away from pulpitizing the proposed reductions to my family’s health care, or the reduction of my National Board stipend. The public does not often see these as valuable issues because they are not connected to the number of computers in a classroom. However, these two issues do affect the retention of high-quality teachers in my state.
I am an example of a high-quality teacher that Washington says it wants to keep, but I have yet to see it. It must be rhetoric. Legislature-speak. Politiconese.
Since we are under a budgetary crisis in Washington, I have only one cent to spare.
Ultimately, I want to know what Washingtonians want for their education system: do you want high quality education or make due and not complain? There is no third option to get high quality education by cutting services and reducing funds. It does not exist regardless of what you read in mainstream media.
The note from my student continued, and mentioned how challenging my English class was, and how grateful she is for the struggle it provided her. She is a sophomore and is going to attend the local community college for writing as she scored 99 out of 100 on the writing exam for placement.
Several of us at Stories from School have posted on topics that make it clear that the budget is on our minds. We are concerned for the far-reaching effects the reduced budget will have on our state's education system. It is not about teachers protesting their health care as some media outlets would like you to believe. It is about the future of the education system that my kids, and your kids, have. Like you, I want the best for my children. It is about retaining high quality teachers.
My student ended her noted in a humorous way. She included the top 7 errors that freshmen students make, a list posted on my wall that I use in instruction.
Her note and the emotions I had as I was transported back in time to her class left me conflicted this morning. I love teaching. I am a great teacher. However, will Washington State retain me?
I hope so.
How do you feel about the proposed Washington State education system? Will it be a reduction in service or maintaining quality education? Your voice is important; you need to share your voice, talk with others, and then act.