>Teacher, after staff meeting to discuss budget cuts: “I just take what they give me and supplement it with my own money.”
Student’s Mom at Open House: “Don’t you get an aide when the class gets this big?”
We know; there’s less money available. We know; benefits are getting more and more expensive. We also know; public perception is often inaccurate.
Right now our local taxpayers are calling for teachers to make contract concessions. Concessions? We make concessions each and every day. Every time I use my own paperbackswap credits to get books for my classroom, it’s a personal concession. Every time I print papers at home using my own paper and ink, it’s a concession. Every time I go in to work at my desk on a weekend, it’s a concession. We pay for our own continuing education, including required credits to renew our licenses and program credits toward advanced degrees. We consider this a fact of life, but in truth, it’s a concession, too.
Those are concessions that affect students indirectly by affecting teachers. Let’s look at concessions that directly hit the students.
Students have to provide their own tissues; schools no longer buy them. I buy my own box so the parents of my students don’t have to provide for me. Administration recommended we get hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes for the classrooms to help prevent H1N1, but no money was provided. This comes out of our own pockets or out of parent donations. If no one donates, then what?
Specialty programs such as reading teachers and teachers for the gifted and talented do not get substitutes. The students do not get services when their teachers are ill.
Repair and replacement projects get put off for years because they don’t fit in the budget. The windows in my classroom, for example, are 60-some years old. The room is drafty and cold in the winter. In fall and spring, it’s too hot. Out of five windows that still have screens, only three open and only two can easily close.
As new research clarifies effective teaching methodology, students need materials. Books. Dry-erase boards and markers. SmartBoards. Math manipulatives. Maps. Computers with up-to-date software and access. Budgets, however, shrink rather than grow.
We look for donors. Grants, foundations, businesses, parents, fundraisers, any sources possible.
Most of all, we look for a better funding formula in our state and federal budgets: a funding formula that recognizes that educating our public, young and old, is not optional. It’s essential.