I’ve been back to work as a high school teacher for one week, and I am TIRED. Teaching is HARD. In the past week, I have learned 150 names, I have read, studied, prepared and delivered lessons on Hamlet for AP Literature students, and I have provided 100 students with an overview on the Holocaust in preparation for studying Night (which I also had to read). I have also individually assessed the writing skills of all 150 students, and provided the majority with feedback. For this, I receive $120 a day.
But wait! It gets better! Before I even had an opportunity to log on to my newly re-activated district email, I had a dozen strongly-worded parent emails crouching in my inbox like bombs. What could they possibly have to complain about, before I had taught even one lesson? Well, I took over during the final week of the first semester, so GRADES of course. It turns out that having cancer is no excuse for not having your grades updated a week ahead of schedule (and to be clear, my friend IS actually grading like a maniac while suffering the after-effects of chemotherapy). Truly my friend’s illness has impacted the life and education of 150 teenage souls, though I am doing my very best to minimize the impact. And this, dear reader, is the reason why teachers deserve respect and should be paid better. We are not monkeys. We are not easily replaced. We actually have value. Which these parents quickly found out when that meddlesome cancer got in the way of entering first semester grades.
Which is also why I start giggling when people innocently ask me whether or not we should vote to approve the latest school levy. It’s like asking if we should give food to a starving child. Or not kick sad puppies. Or pick up a screaming baby. Or make fun of Fox news. Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t help wondering why something like funding for schools is left up to taxpayers – many understandably ignorant of issues in schools. If passed, this levy will benefit over 50,000 students in the Seattle School District and will cost the average taxpayer about $13 a month.
Opposition statements, written by longtime activists Nick Esparza and Chris Jackins, are worth our careful reading and consideration as I reckon a large majority of voters feel like schools are mismanaging funds. We know, in fact, that they are. But I don’t think this means we punish school children for adult mistakes. It means we pass this levy and then, considering our taxes are paying for schools, we GET INVOLVED. How? Well, I am short on answers there. I don’t know. I’d like to know, though. And when I figure it out, I will certainly pass it on. In the meantime, I sure don’t want schools to get worse. I am going to assume you don’t either.
In a nutshell, and in my own colorful language:
Proposition 1 RENEWS the Operations Levy. By voting to keep this levy, you provide 26% of the current school budget. Without it, teachers’ jobs will be cut. Programs will be cut. The education of 50,000 children is in serious jeopardy. WE WANT TO RENEW THIS LEVY.
Proposition 2 RENEWS the Capital Levy. This one keeps actual school buildings safe for kids. Without it, a minor earthquake could kill a bunch of kids. Heating won’t be fixed, so kids will freeze. WE WANT TO RENEW THIS LEVY.
And while you read this blog post, I will be digging through Act I, Scene 3 of Hamlet with a group of obscenely clever 18-year-olds. Wish me luck, and pass those levies, so I can carry on edumacating our nation’s youth. (What have you done so far this morning?)