As our community just failed a school levy, I was puzzled as to how in the heck this happened. I contemplated the why's and the how's: Why would people not support education? How could they do this to children? Why do they feel this resentment towards teachers? How can we (the school system) recover from this?
As I was getting my morning iced tea from a local breakfast restaurant (Before you judge and say something asinine like "How can you afford that everyday but you can't afford whatever else it is that you need", I get them free), the lady behind the counter gave me a tongue lashing about how she was GLAD the school levy had failed. Her reasoning? "Those teachers make enough money. I make $16,000 a year and I support 5 people in my household - a fresh out of college kid can make $37,900 AND they get summers off!"
I was stunned. I was beyond shocked. First off, this lady knows I am a teacher and not once did I ever say "We teachers do not make enough money." The Westerville City School levy was not for teacher raises. It wasn't for teacher's retirement. It wasn't for teacher anything - it was for kids to play sports, for elementary students to keep art, music and physical education. It was to offset our glorious governor's state budget cuts. John Kasich claims he balanced the state budget without raising taxes when in reality, all he did was pass the buck to the city and local governments to fund their education systems. Yeah, I am not a fan of Governor Ka-sucks.
I was fuming at this point. Here was this lady, who I see every morning and get my chocolate chip muffie every now and then from, and she was telling ME that I had it easy! And that she was glad the school levy failed! I thought to myself, "Do you have a college education? Do you have a college loan that was used to obtain a Master's degree that you are currently paying off? No, you probably don't."
What I would have liked to say to that individual was, "Lady, you make bagels for a living. I make a difference."
I realized that the reason why our levy failed was because of the amount of uneducated individuals living in this community. And I don't just mean the people who do not have a college degree - you do not have to go to college to be intelligent. I mean the amount of misinformation that was portrayed throughout this levy campaign. And how the uneducated individuals believed it. Also, look at the population. The majority of the people living in this community are older, do not have kids or their children are grown, and do not feel the need to pay for a school system they do not benefit from. Here's the sad news folks: those kids that you didn't support, those are the people who will be filling your prescriptions at the pharmacy, who will be taking care of you when you are sick and who will protect you when you call 9-1-1. Way to go - those kids should feel abandoned and pissed. It was like the entire community said, "You're just not good enough. The $200 more a year on average that I would be paying for my property tax is just not a good investment. Who cares that the value of my home will now drop? I want my steak dinners!"
Now, after the smoke that was spouting from every pore in my body has settled after the breakfast restaurant run in, I want to say to her, "We are always looking for motivated people who love children to come join us." Please, come jump through the hoops, please pay the money it takes to go to college and get a degree, please pay the money to take the certification tests, please come buy things for your classroom out of your own pocket, please come and give kids lunch money all of the time because their own parents don't, please come and buy kids socks and shoes when their parents can't, please come deal with the clinically insane parents that have nothing better to do but plot out ways to try to have you fired, please come try to break up a fight without touching the kids because you might get sued, please come try to teach what feels like 100 standards to kids who do not want to learn.
Seriously. Please come join us.
You might understand how rewarding this profession is. And you might understand then why summers off is really a time for teachers to reflect on why they love their jobs.