August 8, 2009

The Reason I Am Mad- NRR

I usually start a rant with something like, "I'm sorry if this offends you, but..." You know what? I don't care if this offends you. You can click on the little red X in the top right corner. This rant is about our country's morals regarding education. I do have a point, but it might take awhile to get there and include a lot of angry rambling in between.

I was talking to Kerry the other day, discussing the lack of school funding. Basically, all monies have been taken from us. We get a whopping $0 from the State of Alabama this year for supplies, technology, and everything, really. Being that I've wanted to be a teacher since preschool, and that I would do nearly anything for my students, I wasn't too upset by this. I've always paid for things out of pocket for my classroom. K and I don't have kids, so financially, this hasn't been TOO much of a problem (within reason). What I DO NOT understand is how our government has the money to pay someone thousands of dollars for their 1982 Chevrolet Celebrity (my first car, btw) and allow them to buy a 2009 Fancy Rich Man's Car only to have it repossessed in 2011, yet they can't give the teachers in Alabama some friggin' paper towels for their classroom! I'll leave that soapbox for now.

So, our school began renovations in May. The project was to install a completely new heating and cooling system. While doing so, they were going to rip out the ceiling w/ hurricane water damage and put in new ceilings. We held summer school next door at the middle school, all the while watching the project SLOWLY progress. Seriously, like 5 men worked on this thing every day.

August 3 was supposed to be the finish day. This was 3 days before teachers had their first inservice. It would be hard work to get ready b/c ALL the furniture of the whole school was piled in to the gym and in little storage pods. August 3 came and went, yet we were not allowed in the building b/c the project was not finished. By law, we could not enter until it was cleared by an inspector. Friday was August 7, that was the first day MY end of the building could enter the school. Wow- it was a really big mess. The school was trashed (and still is). Students start date is Tuesday, August 11. The gals on my hall worked like mad all day Friday. It was really fun too, b/c they were working on the smoke alarms and they went off for two hours straight. Today, K got some football players and assistant coaches to help our principal get all the furniture from the gym and pods. ALL MORNING I carried things from gym to different rooms in the school- heavy stuff, like desks and bookshelves. The floors and walls are covered in dust. Contractors destroyed things and put holes in the walls, tore bulletin boards, ripped carpet, and broke glass. I have seen a side of my principal that I have never seen before. It's not a good situation. Tomorrow's work will be limited, as the rest of the building has not been cleared and electricity will be shut off for half the day. Why, you ask? Apparently, parts of the new heating and cooling system aren't even working! WTH? Water leaked into teachers' rooms, and hot air is blowing out in some. Nice, real nice.

Monday morning, the building is supposed to be cleared by the inspector, and the rest of the teachers can come into a room w/ only furniture in the center. In 24 hours they will be expected to unpack, decorate, clean, and prepare all the First of School paperwork. My day will be equally as adventurous b/c I am mentor this year. I will be helping a new teacher learn the ropes and prepare for a new experience.

I'm now going to say something that I really wonder if I've ever said before. In fact this is one of my pet peeve sayings, but here goes: THIS IS NOT FAIR!!!! Why, you ask? Let's say for a moment that this were happening in Mountain Brook, Alabama, the wealthiest city in the state. Do you think the project would have been done so inefficiently? Do you think they would actually make their students start school under those conditions? Um, no, the most definitely would not. In fact, every contractor in the state would be in the school, breaking their back to get the job done. Why would they do that? Probably b/c they would make a heck of a lot more money. People care more about rich schools, and parents don't put up with any crap.

The saddest thing is that I honestly believe people don't care about education. It is not a priority to people. It's the same people that say, "Oh, teachers have their summers..." Guess what, people- we're paid for 9 months of work, yet some of us work 11 months. I worked 9 hours today- Saturday. Next week, I will work at least 12 hour days w/o a dollar overtime. I don't want a raise, and I dang sure don't want anyone's pity. What I want is for people to give as much of a damn about students in rural Alabama as they do hoity-toity Mountain Brook or Fancy Schmancy Private John Carrol. Let's not even go to comparing education in Alabama to other states. You know what they down here, "Thank God for Mississippi." Isn't that pitiful?

All I'm asking is for children and teachers to be given equal opportunities. I know the economy sucks, and I know people are losing their jobs left and right. I am grateful to have a job I love. I think that's what makes me so infuriated. It's like, I love it so much, yet other people don't even care. Public education is completely free to families in this country. It is supposed to be government funded. So, what's going on here? Why isn't the government paying for it? They don't want to put down the money, yet we are still expected to have 100% of students reaching reading and math benchmarks in 2014. We have seen that they obviously have the money. After all, they're buying junk cars and The President is drinking fancy beers on his lawn...

Ps. I will apologize for the profanity. I'm not a Blogg Cusser, but I did feel it necessary in that sentence.


  1. Your best post ever, R! I'm not kidding. Thank you for writing it. Although I'm not a teacher I do have two kids in elementary school and I know how hard their teachers work for them. I do my best to show my appreciation by volunteering in their classrooms as often as possible. But I feel for them, just like I feel for you, because they are also paying so much out of their own pockets. I wish they would accept donations or reimbursements from us parents, but they refuse. I think based on principle. The only time they accept payments for anything are for special field trips that require an entrance fee (like a concert or a play, etc.).

    You're a great woman and a great teacher and please hang in there for the kids! They will remember YOU and all you do for them. Thanks for being an educator despite how the system is currently not on your side.

  2. Anonymous8/08/2009

    ohmigod. you are superwoman in my eyes. i, too, want to thank you for everything you've done, are doing, and will do. the fact that you still want to teach despite all the b.s. you put up with just speaks to how strong and amazing you are.

  3. Good news is that the economy is turning around slowly, give it 6-12 months.

    (oh yeah I agree about the morals in education--at all levels!)

  4. I give this post a BIG stading ovation. You said it so well... this country does not make education a priority, and it SUCKS.

    Your students are unbelievably lucky to have a teacher who cares so much, and I just wish that the government cared too.

    I just finished student teaching in California, where there is absolutely no chance of finding a job because there have been THOUSANDS of teahers laid off. Classes already had 36 students and not enough books, so I'm not really sure how that will all work out, but it is insanely frustrating.

  5. Your kids are lucky to have you as a teacher doing everything in your power to give them an excellent education despite being hamstrung by lack of funds and lack of support from the powers that be who could have the ability to change things for the better. I bristle when I hear anyone here complain about buying their kids' school supplies, knowing full well that the it's a mere fraction of what the teachers put in, money AND time-wise. (I almost don't want to say it and hijack your point but I'll just say that it is familiar territory with regard to great disparity between the most poorly funded and supported school districts, versus the "showpiece" school districts.)

    Anyway-just wanted to say that you're clearly doing an awesome job for your school and your students. That will be what they will remember many years from now-that their education was your priority each and every day.

  6. Rebecca - I didn't realize just how awful the situation was at your school. These conditions are absolutely unacceptable for your kiddos and co-workers!

    It seems like it takes a dire situation for those who are "in charge" to take action. What they don't realize is that it's too late to rectify the situation to people like you who have worked their butts off to make a great first day for your students.

    As others have said - your students and their parents are so so lucky to have a teacher such as you! You are amazing! Keep fighting the good fight!