My soap box: Pink Slips for Teachers

I have a simple question.

Why is it when a state starts to have trouble with their budget and starts talking about all of the cuts that need to be made–why is it that education is always the first thing that gets cut?

You don’t have an answer to my question because there isn’t one. Ask anyone and they’ll agree; it makes absolutely no sense.

At my son’s elementary school there are 7 teachers who will be receiving pink slips in the mail today. My heart hurts for those teachers. The trickle down effect of the state’s budget crisis has landed in these teachers’ laps. Our district is having the teachers rally around the city on busy intersections to show that they are taking a stand for our schools. I like this idea, but considering that the pink slips are arriving today, it’s really a day late and a dollar short.

Along with firing teachers, they are also increasing the class size in the K-3 classes. Now, anyone who has ever been in a class full of 1st graders knows that adding a few more kids, even if it’s just by 2 or 3, makes a huge difference.

I love it when politicians tell you that they don’t want to make any cuts that will affect our children and then they always go right along and do it anyway. It’s like when I catch my boys doing something bad and they just look at me and say, “I couldn’t help it.”

Yeah, right.
When I was a teacher we rallied at the state capital one day in an effort to raise teacher pay. We were trying to put as much pressure as possible on our legislators (Oklahoma was, like, 48th in teacher pay at the time.) Long story short, we got our raises, however minimal they might be. What was funny was that in order to compete and keep the teachers in the state (we were losing a lot of good, new teachers to Texas) they would have had to quadrupled the amount that they gave us. Was the rally worth it? Of course, but it was such a small, tiny step in the right direction it hardly felt like a step forward at all.

I don’t understand all of the politics in this new state of mine, and I’m not going to pretend to understand how budgets work. (I have enough trouble with our home budget.) I’m not saying that I have all of the answers to solve the state’s money problems. All I want to know is why education–of all things–is one of the first things they always go after?

And of all things in education, they always go after the teachers first. How about going after some of the administrators? I’m not talking about the principals. I’m talking about all of those other jobs within a district. I’m not saying that those people don’t do good work that helps the district, but do they directly impact our children on a daily basis? No. So how about trimming the fat in the district offices instead?

I know that when it comes to financial issues within a school district there are no easy answers. No matter what you do, someone somewhere is going to be upset. But the teachers? Can we just leave the teachers alone to do their job, please?

And that’s all I have to say about that.


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