First of all, I have to make a confession.
I have always hated blogging. I've always viewed blogging to be an activity reserved for people who have little to do with their lives, yet feel that the insignificant details of their lives must be shared with the world. Basically ,blogging was like Twitter, but for those incapable of maintaining the character limit.
However, I have been driven to blog anyway.
I am a teacher in the Dallas Independent School District who has been in the classroom for five years. In a profession where more than half of us quit after three years, five years is an eternity. I have never been truly tempted to leave the profession either, though opportunities have presented themselves. I have always loved what I do, and I could not have imagined myself doing anything else.
That was, of course, until the 2011-2012 school year.
Here in Texas, as in every state, our school districts have faced massive budget cuts. Dallas ISD has been hit particularly hard. $120 million had to be eliminated from this year's budget, and now we need another forty. My average class sizes have increased from twenty to twenty-eight, our general funds are now one-third of their former size, and all while the state increases the rigor behind standardized testing.
The only victims in this process have been the teachers and the students. I could spend line after line listing the problems created by budget cuts, but that is not what really drove me to blog.
On Thursday, January 26, the DISD board of trustees made two moves, one to save money and one move that confuses me still. The closure of eleven schools, some of which are exemplary campuses, is unfortunate, however the logic behind those moves exists to counter the emotion. As much as I hate to see a good school close and a fantastic faculty separated, I can at least understand why the move was made.
Yet the extension of teacher work-days still baffles me. Not that the extra forty-five minutes really matters, after all many teachers of DISD work extended schedules anyway, without pay. It is the fact that the District no longer views this as going "above and beyond." Now, this is an expectation. It is as if the school board wishes to recognize that lots of extra time is being put in by their dedicated work force by mandating that it continue, all the while assuring us that we will remain uncompensated for the time. Oh, and by the way, the board also thinks we're ugly.
Teachers are respected in in the speeches of every political candidate for every conceivable office and when I tell someone I am a teacher I receive comments like "Wow! That's great!" or "That's so cool. I really appreciate what you guys do." If everyone respects us so, then why are we being beaten into submission? Perhaps it is because the current economic climate leaves little refuge in the private sector, but it seems that the people and our leaders proclaim their love for us while they twist the boot they have laid on our throats.
I, for one, am done. Not with teaching, but with being the whipping boy.
I am asking teachers to become followers of my blog, and join myself and other concerned teachers by agreeing to protest the "Great Leap Backwards" our district, and frankly our nation, is taking in education by participating in the Leap Day Sick Out on February 29th. To demonstrate your support, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or post and anonymous comment below. I will periodically report the number of participants. The more of us that there are, the louder our message. Our unions will do nothing, so it is time we did something ourselves.
On the morning of Wednesday, February 29, I will contact all local news agencies and inform them of the sick out. The goals are:
1. Achieve a minimum "sick-out" of 33% of teachers
2. To demonstrate to the board and to the people of Dallas how important teachers are. (They seem to have forgotten.)
3. Motivate the people of the city of Dallas to take action and defend their teachers
Please e-mail me, email@example.com if you have any questions.
NOTE: Yes, I have not given my name. I do not plan to until after the sick-out to avoid any repercussions that may make others hesitant to participate. I will reveal my name on March 1, 2012.