Dear Parents of Dallas ISD-
I hope you do not believe some of the rhetoric. I hope you know that the vast majority of teachers in Dallas ISD come to work every day for the benefit of your children. We are people dedicated to giving your child our very best to give them every fighting chance of finding success in an increasingly competitive and grueling world economy. We recognize that these are someone's sons and daughters, and treat them as we would want our own treated in their schools. And, despite the claim of some, we would never do anything that was not in your children's best interest.
You see, we teachers see a pattern developing. This pattern frightens us, as it should frighten you. Every year it seems as if our district has to find some way to make up for a budget shortfall. Every year we find programs cut, good teachers dismissed simply because of what budget code they are paid by, and classroom sizes grow. We have given our district many concessions in order to try and lessen the impact on your child. We have given up paid days off, we have twice sacrificed cost-of-living pay increases and/or service year raises in order to save our district money. We have paid higher insurance premiums or less comprehensive coverage in order to provide the district some flexibility in their repeated budget crises.
We also volunteer our time to tutor your children, of course without compensation or recognition. We stay extremely late two nights a year so that you may come by after work and conference with us on how your child is performing. We come in early to prepare the most engaging lessons we can with diminished resources, or resources we have purchased on our own.
Never, ever think that we do not care about your child. Anyone who says otherwise does not know us and what we do.
Many of us may have to call in sick on Leap Day. On the surface, some will tell you that this is an example of our laziness and our callousness. Far from it. We are protesting more than a simple addition of forty-five minutes to our days. Please. If you know us, you know we're already there for that long, or longer. The forty-five minutes was simply the move of disrespect that made me speak out.
We are protesting the pattern. We watch as our public schools are drained of their resources and school districts become increasingly hostile places to work. We see what is in store ahead. When things are taken away they are rarely returned. The funding we had in the past may never come back, and the taking will only get worse and worse. Eventually the time will come when schools operate on skeleton budgets and can hire only those who can find no place else to work, for those with talent will escape the hostility or find a less meager paycheck. Eventually the buildings will be filled with people who are there to pass out worksheets and textbooks then go home, having as little of a clue as what was to be learned that day as your child will.
Eventually, the only good education will come to those who can afford one. Your child, my child, and many others will be forced to drag themselves through a public education system so under-funded and void of talented educators that you'll be happy if your child can spell their name when they "graduate."
If you want a window of what your schools will look like; if you want a one day glimpse of what the future holds for public education, stop by your school on February 29th, 2012.
Or, better yet, contact the school board and let them know that they need to ask the teachers what can be done to improve our schools this year, and in the years beyond.
Always wishing you and your children the best,