8 and a half years ago I signed on the dotted line, received my wad of keys, walked down to the band room, met my kids, and started this chapter of my life entitled "Teacher". I was *elated* because I had a JOB and not only that but it was a job teaching MUSIC! I was a #ProfessionalBandGeek!! *Finally* after 7 years of school and an anxious summer searching and interviewing for positions, I finally landed one in Hickman Mills (where I reside still to this day)
For all that time, I've had the wonderful task of #ShapingYoungMinds, #SpreadingTheJoyOfMusic, #RockingTheDrumLine, giving them the #"Stout"PerspectiveOnLife, on how to be a #Respectful and #Productive person. Aside from all of the things I have to do on a daily basis that I never thought I would (another blog post coming soon), I love what I do without question. Even on the days I'm frustrated beyond belief I still love it and I hope I always do.
With that said, it's a damn scary time to be a teacher. I can't speak for my colleagues, or teacher friends scattered across the US, but I'm fairly sure that aside from the love of our subjects taught, we entered the education profession because it's a #SECURE career...at least it was. I'll admit that I don't follow politics and what's going on with the economy closely because it causes me to get *super* anxious and spin off the deep end into the chaos and that's not good for anybody. There's also my feeling deep inside that something HUGE is going to happen in 2012 that makes this all so very very trivial, but that's another topic for another day.
What I can't ignore anymore is the state of affairs when it comes to public education and the security of my job, my livelihood, my friends jobs and livelihood, but most importantly what this problem is doing to the future of this world. It is beyond scary. We all know that the our public education system has been lagging behind other countries for years. I quite firmly believe this is due to the numerous rules, regulations, policies, procedures, mandates, and laws our *fabulous* government (note the heavy sarcasm) has been throwing on top of us for years. NCLB anyone? AYP? Teaching for the MAP test? Dress Code? ID Badge violations? No electronics? ADA? SMART Goals & Closing the Achievement Gap?
I wish, knowing what I know now, that I could have been a fly on the wall during staff meetings/Professional Development back when I was in high school. Did the teachers then have as much anxiety over the security of their jobs? Did they have to talk budget cuts every.single.year? Did they have to spend as much time "Teaching to the Test" as they did on #DressCodeViolations? Did my band teachers go home after their Wednesday PD thinking to themselves, "Great. I'm trying to get ready for district and state competition and on top of all the rehearsals lost to snow day's, I now have to surrender rehearsal time to "Power Verbs", "MAP terms", and working math, science, and comm arts in somehow." Never mind the fact that math gave me panic attacks, science was like a foreign language to me, and who remembers how to diagram a sentence anyways? Yet I have to do it because it's mandated by the government that if *WE*, the teachers, don't raise the test scores, we're out of a job. Add to that the stress over whether said government is going to cut MORE funds from our already limited resources #aremypaychecksgoingtostartbouncing? and it's no wonder that we're all a little on edge lately.
It's just so incredibly sad. As my awareness spreads out around this crisis I am shocked and dismayed at the ignorance of the government. You powerful men sitting in your ivory towers atop Capitol Hill have lost all touch with reality. Seriously. Would you all stop looking at your fancy suits and shiny shoes for a second and LOOK AT WHAT YOU HAVE DONE AND CONTINUE TO DO TO THIS NATION. Cutting funding for vital services such as Education, Police, & Social Services? #AREYOUNUTS?!?! I really resent the fact that you are trillions upon trillions in debt because you've given yourselves so many tax cuts, pay raises, and bonuses; borrowed who knows how much from other countries, have sold *our* souls to the oil devil so you could keep your Escalade and Bluetooth Blackberry, and have focused on helping the rest of the world instead of keeping us on track for so long that I don't know if we'll *ever* make it back. I also *REALLY* resent the fact that I have to pay my taxes on time every year yet the possibility that I'll get a refund? #Small The possibility that said refund will be sent on time? #ABSOLUTEZERO I hold onto the thought that on Dec. 21st, 2012 a great chasm will open up under Washington and swallow you all and *poof!* all of our problems will be solved by mother nature...but I digress.
Let's speak frankly for a second. I really really REALLY resent the fact that I might lose my job because of your ineptitude at balancing the budget. I'm a damn good teacher but because you're unable to manage your money #LETaWOMANDOIT! and have been unable to manage your money for such a long time, I might lose my job because I'm not *essential* to meeting your ridiculous test score requirements. Let me clue you in on a secret here...music is #VITAL to a child's full, well rounded education. Watch this if you're confused, he says it best Mike Huckabee: Art and Music essential to education. I'll vote for this guy just based off of this. He's a freaking GENIUS! Why don't all of you on Capitol Hill take a second and think back to your days in school and how music and art played an intricate role in your education. Bill Clinton playing the saxophone anyone? Would you be where you are today without that experience? Music makes you use both sides of your brain and develop greater, deeper, and more permanent connections. Art makes you think spatially and helps with developing greater math skills, yet you are killing this connection because of your selfish decisions.
Yet on the flip-side, even if I get to keep my job, the opportunities the band gets to perform and travel are decreasing because transportation funds are being cut. I swear, pretty soon the teachers are going to be expected to pick the kids up and bring them to school because we can't pay for busses! I'm fixing instruments with masking tape, paper clips, and gorilla glue because we can't afford to pay a repair shop. I purchase the music for my Drum Line not only to get the tax deduction (but what help *that* will be this year is debatable) but for the simple fact that if I didn't, we'd still be playing cadences and features from four years ago and you can't win awards with that.
What's that government? I win awards? Oh yes I do thank you very much. It may not be high score on the MAP test, but we're one of the best Drum Lines/Percussion Sections in our area, at least at the three competitions we can afford to go too, and a number of my kids are high achievers in academics, sports, and the arts. They don't get into trouble for anything other than a minor dress code/ID violation (don't even get me started on how many hours a year I waste on this issue instead of teaching), and are outstanding citizens,
You want higher test scores? You want the U.S. education system to be a giant contender with the world again? You want to ensure the success of this nation for years beyond your, or my, life? Then stop all the #Bull$hit! and the carp you're feeding the public and do what you know is right. #FIXIT. Don't try; DO. Stop arguing with one another over who is right or wrong in the political world. There's no effing time for that anymore. How can you expect to leave this enormous problem you've created to a generation who is not "proficient" in math? How can you expect a cure for cancer when there's not enough money to provide the science classes with basic necessities? How can you expect them to be able to read at a level equal to their grade when there isn't enough money to #BUYBOOKS. And STOP telling us to get on the technology bandwagon when we don't have the funds to provide that technology for our students, and the technology they could use to access it (cellphones) are not allowed in class? It's ridiculous and incredibly disheartening. Are you enjoying your ride to hell in a hand-basket? Cause that's where you're going and unfortunately we're all along for the ride.
Cutting the funding to the the point where schools have to cut teachers, therefore increasing class sizes, thereby making the mandate of #DifferentiatedInstruction and one-on-one time with each student increasingly harder to accomplish, resulting in test scores that are less than desirable because this poor teacher is trying to teach 40 kids in a room built for 28 and they're so worn out because they have 7 classes of 40 kids each every.single.day with that much homework to grade each night because God forbid the kids don't get immediate feedback on their progress. Then on top of that this teacher has to *re-teach* material to the kids who aren't gettin' it for whatever reason, while still trying to keep the rest of the class on track with the curriculum and bench marks because if you don't stay with that then your summer gets sucked away by tutoring kids to pass their bench marks, *and*, if you don't stay on track with the curriculum then they aren't prepared for the next step in their math sequencing but sometimes it's really hard to stay with that curriculum because there's the MAP test scores that are so damn important to whether or not this teacher gets to keep their job that they work their self into a tizzy everyday and the end result is a burned out teacher after 2 or 3 years who is taking Zoloft daily to cope with the anxiety and stress but can't always afford the prescription because we're paid diddly. Click here for an interesting "note" on what teachers *should* be paid.
Tired yet? I'm exhausted and I'm not a "Core" teacher!
So come on Washington. #GetYourActTogether. Enough with the excuses, the fighting, the bad decisions. Suck it up and make the hard decisions because in the long run that's what you need to do to turn this around. In the meantime I'll await the news on whether or not I have my beloved job next school year, or if I have to go back to waiting tables, and I'll continue to run myself ragged each day picking up your slack while incorporating math, science, and comm arts into my rehearsals on top of the behavioral, emotional, social, and environmental lessons I am expected to instill, and the dress code I'm supposed to enforce, as well as the life I am trying to make for myself and my husband.
Where's my Zoloft...I need a nap.