Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Lesson 61: No, Governor--We're Not Going To Take It Anymore

Today is my last day of school.  We're closing up shop for the summer.  Everything is boxed up ready for the cleaning crews to come in and repaint, shine up, and most importantly disinfect the buildings.  Kids are germy little things.  And then it starts......nope, not just "summer".......something else.  The digs.  The barbs.  The snide comments about what I will do with all of my free time. 

Usually every year I laugh off the comment with, "Well, you could have become a teacher, but you chose not to."  But not this year.  No way, sister.  Nuh-uh, brother.  The state of education in my great state is in a bit of a crisis and I am not in the mood for jabs.  I'm going to swing back and I have a mean right hook.  I've watched Rocky beat Drago countless times so I'm ready for you.  I'm not going to take your snippities any more.

Governor Corbett's budget for PA (that stands for Pennsylvania, Slovenians), cut the education allotment by 1 billion dollars.  Yes, I meant Billion, with a B.  That was not a typo.  A drastic slash of that measure leaves schools hurting.  Districts are trying to find ways to adjust to the reduced dollar amount.  They are doing this through several unpopular options such as furloughing jobs and cutting needed programs. 

We live in a nation where bigger and faster are better---but not so when it comes to schools.  Sometimes small and slow is what you need.  Fewer teachers mean of course larger class sizes, which is the key issue that will hit the students first.  Class sizes in the low 20's are manageable.  As the numbers creep higher, nearing 30 per classroom as they were in the 1970's when I walked the halls, the crucial interaction between student and teacher is jeopardized.  You do the math--a 42 minute period, roll to take, homework to collect, behavior to manage, and 16 state mandated standards to get through.  Now look out at the 30 faces and try to figure out how you are going to reach each one in that limited time block.  Find some way to communicate with them by having them answer a question, give them verbal or written feedback, or listen to them read.  If things are clipping along, you have to get to one kid per minute.  Talk to me honey, but you're on the clock, so make it quick. 

House Bill 1485 was approved on the 26th of May by 109-92 margin.  The 90 Democrats hung together and were convincing enough to persuade two smart Republicans from Philly (O'Brien and Taylor) to join the club.  According to the PSEA website information, the passage of this bill now ups the negotiation process a notch as the bill moves on to the Senate.  The final budget is to be passed June 30th. 

I've been told I resemble a number of people throughout my life.  Eloise prefers to keep her identity a secret, and am not one prone to posting my picture on the Internet, but here are a few mental images to help you out:  Goldilocks, Oprah Winfrey (yes, someone told me that once), some chick who lives out in Girard, and Twisted Sister.  Twisted Sister, Slovenians, was a heavy metal band from the 80's.  The lead singer who happens to be male, had hair a lot like mine back in by hair monster days of the 1990's.  Someone told me once I looked like Twisted Sister and I hoped they meant the hair and not the nose. 

The above song post is the lyrics to the Twisted Sister song, We're Not Gonna Take It.  I put it on here as a caution to my family and friends about their condescending comments about teachers and their summers off.  We are professionals who work very hard in the best interests of your children, and moreover our children, our society.  I take my job very seriously and feel safe in speaking these sentiments on the behalf of my colleagues across the state and this nation. 

Yes, I recognize the obvious grammatical mistakes.  I am well aware that ain't and gonna do not appear on the Test of Standard Written English and I've so righted them in the blog title.   If this message somehow crosses the computer screen of Governor Corbett through cyber circulation, I will end with the words of Twisted Sister that contain no grammatical mistakes:  .......If that's your best, your best won't do........  We're right, we're free, we'll fight, you'll see......"  Never underestimate the power of a teacher.  We're used to enforcing quiet and "inside voices" but we can make a little noise when we need to.  Governor Corbett, we hope you hear our song.

Rock on,

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