Updated: Mar 15, 2019
So, I'm on spring break catching up on my reading because let's face it, during the school year, I just don't have time to read for pleasure. Especially since I teach English. I spend the majority of the school year reading the things my students have to read so that I can be prepared to teach and reteach materials if necessary. So during my breaks, I get caught up on the things I want and need to do. I clean. I sleep. I read. I even send recommended readings to the kids if I feel it will benefit them. But anyhoo...
The other day I came across an article that stated that the Trump administration is proposing to reduce educational funding by $7.1 BILLION. The first thing that came out of my mouth regarding just the title of the article was, "What the hell?!" I think about the school in which I currently teach. I think about all of the schools in which I've taught over the course of my career. I can't fathom what could possibly be cut at this point to save more money.
We don't have extra curricular and after school programs.
We don't have paid tutoring.
We don't have a wide variety of programs within the school to choose from- when I say this I mean AP, IB, and true honors courses, or numerous opportunities for the students to earn college credits.
So what exactly are we cutting? Why exactly are funds being decreased so drastically? So I read the article. Basically, the article states that funding is going to be cut from public schools in order to fund vouchers and such for "school choice." This made the wheels of my brain start to turn.
In my career, all of the public schools I've taught in have been neighborhood schools. Literally, the schools were in the middle of neighborhoods and many of the students walked to school or were car-riders. Because these schools were the most convenient for the families (as many of them did/do not have reliable transportation) this is where the children would attend. Another thing to note is that I have always taught in low-income, high-poverty areas. Many of the students and their parents have never ventured outside the confines of their neighborhood or zip code. And, sadly, they are content with this life.
As I sit and reread the article I think to myself, "They are going to take away funding for these kids who rely on public education as their means of providing a future for themselves- for what?" Looking at the history of the public educational system, I am reminded that it was first made for poor children in rural areas so that they could become literate. I am also reminded that freedmen schools were offered to the public for newly freed slaves so that they too could become literate and thereby have a better means of providing for themselves. Even now, the majority of the students I have come into contact with over the years, in many ways still fit this criteria. They are poor, they struggle with literacy, and they are trying to make a better life for themselves and (in many cases because some of my kids have kids) their families.
How dare people who have never had to struggle, who have possibly had private tutors in their lives, who have PAID THEIR WAY INTO COLLEGE, take away funding from the only place that students like mine can get a decent education!
Teachers aren't paid enough as it is. We often don't have enough resources for the content we teach. We often don't have enough room in the classroom to house the students because we are at max capacity. We teach in buildings that are falling apart or haven't been renovated in decades. We teach in buildings that have no heat in the winter, no air in the summer.
But you want to take away funding. It's a disgrace.
At any public school I've taught in, the majority of the students are people of color and they are low-income. They are African American and Hispanic children who most certainly did not have a choice in where they reside or the lack of income their families pull in. These are the children who would be de-funded (is that a word? I don't care- it will be one today). And we can't allow this to happen.
Decreasing funding means a decrease in access to technology as we move toward making everything tech based.
Decreasing funding means a decrease in HIGHLY QUALIFIED teachers as we already struggle to hire and retain those who are passionately invested in the work.
Decreasing funding means a decrease in the variety of courses our students have the opportunity to take.
It means a decrease in teacher salaries when many are struggling to make a living wage.
It means a decrease in healthcare.
This decrease in funding impacts so much more than they care to realize- all in the name of school choice.
I would implore them to consider those who have no choice. Because they are the ones that will most certainly be left with nothing.