I’m tired.

I’m tired of state and local governments balancing their budgets on the backs of schools. “Revenues are down, better cut something! Those teachers don’t need to make money, they do it for love.”

I’m tired of federal and state mandates for schools that aren’t funded. Special education services required to be at certain levels, standardized tests, services for english language learners, staffing levels, hours of professional development… who pays for it all? we do. the teachers and the local government.

I’m tired of being expected to do any amount of work necessary to make school work without regard for my own health, safety or sanity because “it’s for the kids”.

I’m tired of being expected to make up the gaps in funding out of my own paycheck. My paycheck which in the years I get “raises” doesn’t keep up with inflation, and often actually goes down from year to year because they keep raising our health insurance premiums more than the raise they give us.

I’m tired of being expected to be that one adult who believes in a troubled child and miraculously makes up for all of the ills society has put on that child. I can’t heal all of their trauma. I can’t make up for the huge numbers of children growing up in poverty in this country. I can’t actually do it all by myself. (Do not get me started on the white lady savior narrative in hollywood depictions of education.)

I’m tired of being seen as an acceptable sacrifice in order to open the economy this fall. Teachers can be high risk. Children can be high risk. People who have no apparent high risk factors can die from covid19. It happens regularly. We still don’t understand this disease. We still don’t know how likely children actually are to spread it to each other or adults. We don’t know how much the age of the children matters. I teach primarily high school juniors and seniors – they are 16-17-18 not 10.

I’m tired of people caring more about schools as daycare than as places of learning.

I’m tired.

….

If you were nodding along in agreement with this and you’re not a teacher: I need to you do something about this.

Today, tomorrow, November. I need you to vote for candidates for local, state and national office who actually value public education. I need you to hold your current elected officials responsible for doing something about this situation. Call them, write them, annoy the heck out of them. Ask them what they are doing to fix it.

I’m not just talking about the covid19 situation, I’m talking about the whole thing. We have defunded public schools in this country since the 2008 crash. We spend less per student adjusted for inflation than we did then. Teachers are leaving the profession. People aren’t going into teaching. We have a sub shortage because anyone whose halfway competent as a substitute gets hired as a full time teacher because we have a teacher shortage. It’s not just about the pay but the pay would help.

Teachers give and give and give and give because we chose this profession because we do, in fact, care about children. But we are running dry. This country has spent the last 12 years wringing every drop they can get out of us and there’s only so much left.

Let me be clear: I fucking love my job and I’m damn good at it too. I do not want to get out of this profession that has been my goal since I was a child myself. What I want is for society to realize that we need to make teaching a sustainable profession or schools really will end up being nothing but glorified day care centers, and it’s already happening.