Your Child’s School is Dying — Help Save It!

I received a letter from a 20-year veteran Tulsa Public Schools teacher and a mom. I wanted to write a blog about the dire straits that our public schools are in, but this letter says it all. Fortunately for my family, my children are now out of public schools and out of Oklahoma. Sadly, I wouldn’t encourage them to come back here to live because they would be returning to a state where the legislature and state policy makers are at odds with educators, parents and school administrators. While State Superintendent of Schools Janet Barresi says that she wants our students to be college and career ready, all I’ve seen from our state lawmakers are cuts, more cuts and more unfunded mandates — all with her joyful support.

I’m glad that my children had the opportunity to take foreign language, IB and AP classes. They were able to take interesting classes such as psychology, Spanish literature, botany, Italian and political philosophy. These classes encouraged critical thinking and, more importantly, fed my children’s love of learning. Their class sizes were small. The teachers were able to do creative lessons. Now, I fear that children of younger parents won’t have the opportunities in public school that my children had and it truly breaks my heart. But we seem to keep voting for the same people who believe that it isn’t a role of government (and by the way, “government” is US) to fund public schools.

I honestly don’t know how our schools will recover from the decimation that is happening right now. The next time you vote, ask the candidate what he or she will do to support public schools. Ask them to put their money where their mouth is. Don’t fall for “I support family values.” Ask what that means in terms of financial support for schools, then vote accordingly. Things won’t change unless we parents speak up.

Here is Ashley Lewis’s letter. She is a teacher and parent of Eisenhower, Carver and Booker T. Washington:

Dear Friends, Families and Fellow Educators,

As many of us stand around on the playground and in the halls of our schools discussing with friends the many changes our school, faculty and our children face in the near future we need to ask ourselves what can we do to change this. I have witnessed firsthand the influence that a group of voices can have on change. We again are in need of the power of voice to help bring change to budget shortfalls and how they negatively affect our children, the very core of our future generation.

Instead of worrying and talking about the dire circumstances of our district and the thought of putting our children in private schools, I urge you to direct your frustrations at our state legislators and band together to demand change. Talk amongst us is just talk, but our actions speak louder than words.

As a veteran teacher of 20 years, I find myself seeing things in a different light. Up until now these shortfalls have not affected me directly, but as the crisis deepens so does the affect on the number of quality teachers in our building and district. So, I ask myself, am I going to be part of the solution by becoming a part of a larger voice or am I going to stand silent and let things happen as they have in the 20 years of service I have dedicated to my students?

If my plea is not enough to encourage you to be part of the solution, I want to leave you with some food for thought:

We as parents are willing to leave our irreplaceable, precious children in the hands of teachers for 7-8 hours a day in hopes that they will become highly educated, socially rounded and future pillars of our community. Think about it, we as parents can NEVER replace our children yet, we are willing to drop them off and continue on with our day with the comfort of knowing they are not only being taken care of in your absence, they are nurtured, loved, and educated each day by teachers who care and are willing to do this for a salary that cannot begin to support a family. I don’t know about you, but as a parent myself I am thankful for the teachers who feel called to take on this enormous task, and I can with confidence know that they are doing the very best they can with what they are given.

I found this piece on the Internet while trying to make sense of everything that is happening and it seemed to make perfect sense.

Sick of highly paid teachers? Here’s what to do:

Teachers’ hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work 9 or 10 months a year!

It’s time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they do – babysit! We can get that for less than minimum wage.

That’s right. Let’s give them $3 an hour and only the hours they worked; not any of that silly planning time, or any time they spend before or after school. That would be $19.50 a day (7:45 to 3:00 PM with 45 min. off for lunch and plan– that equals 6 1/2 hours).

Each parent should pay $19.50 a day for these teachers to baby-sit their children. Now how many students do they teach in a day…maybe 30? So that’s $19.50 x 30 = $585 a day.

However, remember they only work 180 days a year!!! I am not going to pay them for any vacations.

LET’S SEE….That’s $585 X 180= $105,300 per year. (Hold on! My calculator needs new batteries).

What about those special education teachers and the ones with Master’s degrees? Well, we could pay them minimum wage ($7.75), and just to be fair, round it off to $8.00 an hour. That would be $8 X 6 1/2 hours X 30 children X 180 days = $280,800 per year.

Wait a minute — there’s something wrong here! There sure is!

The average teacher’s salary (nationwide) is $50,000. $50,000/180 days

= $277.77/per day/30 students=$9.25/6.5 hours = $1.42 per hour per student–a very inexpensive baby-sitter and they even EDUCATE your kids!) WHAT A DEAL!!!!

In Oklahoma the average is between 35,000 and 37,000 dollars a year.

I am not writing this plea to cause you to feel sorry for us. We clearly do not teach for the money — we do it because we love what we do and we love our students.

So, if you are a family who is fortunate enough to reap the benefits of a free education and you appreciate those teachers who come to school every day with a smile on their face, come to school early and stay late for the benefit of your children and are willing to care enough to make a difference in your child’s life, then I urge you to show them you care by banding together to fight for more money in education.

If we always do what we have always done, then we will always get what we’ve always gotten:

Editor’s Note: There will be a STAND UP FOR EDUCATION RALLY at the north side of the STATE CAPITOL on SAT., MAY 5, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Take the kids. There will be music, kids’ activities, special guests and free popcorn and snow cones. Let you voice be heard!

Categories: Editor’s Blog