Wednesday, 4/3 Life's Big Issues
Thursday, April 04, 2013
Today is ONLY Wednesday, after all that has went on this week, it seems unreal that it is only Wednesday.
I do want to describe my Easter Day--it was so precious. The morning started with my entire family together at church except for Matthew who cannot get a break at his McDonald's part time job. I wish he would quit, but he feels as if he owes them some sort of loyalty because they gave him his first job. My oldest son is such a sweet and gentle young man--after all of these years, I know he doesn't owe them this type of loyalty, especially when I can recite one lousy thing after another that they have done to him. I have a lot of respect for the kind of person he is, for the caring and responsible person he is. In any case, all of the rest of the kids were at church together and it was wonderful to have them there, worshipping and praying together.
We went home to work on our family meal together while Mitchell took Marissa to his apartment and they made a sweet potato casserole together. This was a new dish that they researched the recipe for--focusing on low calorie and low fat (unlike those horrid candied yams that I grew up with. I have never made a sweet potato or yam dish because of those sticky, sweet, soaked in butter, messy and high calorie and high fat things that we had at almost every big meal when I was growing up.) It was nice to have my kids working together preparing the veggie tray as their father and I prepared the ham and turkey breast and the side dishes together. I did what I could and rested my back whenever I needed to and it was fun to share the tasks this way. It was more fun to have everyone together, enjoying each other's company and having fun.
Monday morning started off with a big ugly boom. I had been given a message to call a parent the last thing on Thursday because the parent "had some questions about reading." Hmm, that was a long rather unpleasant call where the parent thought her daughter needed to have a special ed referral because the parent suspected that she had dyslexia. I don't work with her daughter which means that her reading is at grade level or else rather close. Anyway, this parent didn't know why she was talking with me but she was willing to express that she thought the staff in our building was ignoring her and her requests to help her daughter. I tried to settle this down, but she was too upset.
After passing on this information, the principal asked me if I had students right away and I was a bit incredulous. I reminded her that I did have kids all day long. She said that she had to tell me this quickly then and proceded to tell me that there was no money for my position next year. She said that the Title 1 budget had been cut and that it would take $50,000 more for her to be able to afford a full-time teacher. Then, she offered me the primary position that was going to be open in our building (because we have a teacher retiring.) I was flabbergasted. I told her that I needed to think about all of this for now. She seemed to have expected me to jump on the position that she offered me, but i was thinking that teaching in a regular classroom would be fine with me, but if I needed to do that, I wanted to be in a different building where I would be treated more decently. She asked me a couple of times about the position and I told her that I wasn't expecting this and that I would get back to her on it.
I went back to my room and sent an email to our HR guy and asked if we could meet to discuss my options. He responded and said that he would come and see me. I also emailed the other Title 1 teachers in the district and let them know what was going on. I got a few responses with kind words and encouragement, a couple of people wondering what was going on with their position. This was a big deal for my students--I was so worried about them because I have so many who need direct service and as many on my waiting list for service as soon as i discontinue some others. I didn't know how, with our class sizes up to 30 next year, that these children would become readers.
Now, if we can move the calendar to Tuesday after school--I was on my way to a training on setting up a primary classroom to implement the Commond Core State Standards and the principal stopped me. She told me that they had a solution for my position for next year. I will be teaching Title 1 for half of my day and the other half of my salary will be paid from the Professional Development budget. I will be doing staff development for half of my day, working with teachers to help them improve their language arts program. I will do some of this through providing workshops and part through working in their classrooms as they teach language arts. I might be modeling lessons, responding to their requests for help with things, observing their work and providing some ideas, etc... This is the job that I have always wanted to do. I can impact a lot more students by helping their teachers to do what I do each day. I have a lot of training and experience that I can share with them. I had taken a training about 6 years ago and established a set of lessons and materials that gave me a beginning to work like this. She kept apologizing for this and I tried to let her know that this was what I always thought i should be doing. It was an odd conversation at the very least.
As this story unfolded, I found out that there were two others in my position, all three of us being people with over 20 years of experience. (I have more seniority out of the three of us with there only being 2 others in our area with more years than me. One of those ladies is retiring in about 2 or 3 years.) I also remembered that when our district took the coming years potential budget cuts out to the community, one of the things that was listed was one of the assistant (or associate, I cannot ever keep this straight) superintendents and his secretary's salaries were included as cuts in the budget--The solution to this was that their salaries would be paid for out of the district's Title 1 budget. I told my husband that that couldn't be considered a "budget cut" and that somebody was going to be hurt by this move. I didn't realize that it was going to be my students.
Schools in Illinois are in deep trouble thanks to a state that has done such wonderful things as raiding my pension fund year after year until the money I have paid into it won't be available for me when I retire. Our schools from one boundary to the other are dealing with class sizes that are growing with each new budget cut. We will have from 30-32 kindergarten students in a class next year and no money for aides. The curriculum is being driven upwards and children are doing in kindergarten what second and third graders did when I started teaching. If that isn't enough, Congress, who cannot do their job and create a budget is in this "Sequester mode" and Title 1 funds for families in poverty, ELL (English language learners) and special education funds are all being cut--so the nation's most at risk kids are getting less service as well. When do all of these politicians figure out that children hold the future in their hands??? These children will be in a lot of crisis situations because of this and we are in a state with a double or triple whammy taking place.
This certainly isn't over. I have a position for another year and then this may well resurface unless I can do the kind of work that shows a positive spin on test scores. I will be doing some research and studying over the summer so I can do this new position in the best way possible. I believe that this is the job that I was intended to do and I am looking forward to giving it my best shot. It will be an interesting year for us all...
I sure hope that I have a far better "rest of my week!" My back is hurting again and i made an appointment with my pain doc to do a follow-up to the injection I had a few weeks ago. I am going to get things together and solve all of these issues to the best of my ability. That is who I am and how I do things--and I don't mind doing a lot of work to accomplish it. I know what I need to do and that helps a lot!
Have a good first week of April!