Monday, May 11, 2009

Teacher layoffs: it's not about "need" it's about "afford"

I know school districts all around the country are feeling the pain. Teachers are being laid off in record number for next year. All at the worst possible time. Not only is this awful for the schools and most importantly the kids, it is frightening for the local economies.

Teachers don't make high wages in the first place, but it is a good, solid job in these rocky days. Now, many won't even have that.

Our school district is threatening to RIF (reduction in force) 8 or 9 full time teachers for next year. We are a small school district. We already have pretty large class sizes. I can see what is coming down the pike.

Special Education isn't immune.

Last year there were 2 full time teachers for the Developmental Preschool that Shea attends. This program handles 0-3, Child Find, outreach, preschool for 3-6, screenings, testing and IEPs. That is a pretty full plate for 2 teachers.

This year, the staffing went down to 1.5 teachers. Same duties but less paid time to get it all done. Next year there will only be one full time teacher. Guess what? They still have to do all the same stuff.

How could anyone get all that done? Answer: they won't we able to. They will spend less time per child, less time per task and still probably have to bring a bunch of work home. And, then we wonder why teachers are bailing to find other employment.

I understand this is a dollar and cents game. You can't squeeze blood from a turnip, as they say. But, how long can we really afford to continue short changing the kids? And, then put the additional squeeze on the weakest of the bunch?

And, all this from Washington state that won't even talk about an income tax to help pay for the social contract. You know? The commons! The price of living in a civilized society!


As Americans, we have legally decided that public education is a right. Yet, we still don't pay for it. Why is that? How can we justify the lack of investment?

We can't. There is no justification. It is selfishness and greed clear and simple. We only take care of our own. The others? Be damned. This is the product of the "me first" societal view.

Education is a long term investment. And, if we do not make the effort and sacrifice now, it does not even equate to a gamble but a lost opportunity, never to be regained.

1 comment:

deirdre said...


I was voting for school bonds long before I had a child. Quality education lifts up all the boats and ensures a solid middle class.

Now, people our age and older, with or - more often - without children see no moral conflict between the sacrifices previous generations made to ensure that we had quality education (which led to good colleges, which led to good or at least decent jobs) and their own refusal to fund the next generation's. Thanks Grandma and Grandpa, but my neighbor's kid is on his own!

Yes, it is breaking the social contract. Indeed.

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