Here I am, yet again. Debating, planning, and worrying about my future. Worried I’ll be homeless, worried that I’ll be poor, and worried that I’ll be unable to have a family someday. I’m worried that my parents won’t get the care they need, worried that I’ll let my family down, and worried if I’m doing everything I can to make sure nothing bad happens to myself and my loved ones. I’ve been ripped away from two families now, in two different parts of the state. In a state I had never been to, with people I didn’t know. I know that I am lucky to have found, yet another, loving family to accept me, although I know I will probably have to leave them someday too. No, I’m not foster child. I’m not a child at all. I’m not uneducated nor am I on welfare. I don’t do drugs and I don’t smoke. I didn’t come from a broken home or from a cycle of poverty and violence. I can’t say that I’ve ever been arrested or done anything to purposely harm others. Now that you know what I’m not, I’ll tell you what I am. I am a woman. I am dedicated, ambitious and loyal. The good that I want to do for the world is taken advantage of every day and I am used as a game piece to fill the “Life” game board. I am underpaid and overworked, but I’ve never given up. I walk out the door every morning in an attempt to change the world, one child at a time. I am a teacher.
This isn’t another letter disgruntledly expressing my disdain for politicians/members of professional communities who “don’t make the best decisions for public education”. It’s not even another letter that you can throw in a pile. My goal for this letter is clear and concise in the fact that I want to defend the purpose of my proposal for a master’s degree pay increase and to support my district in their struggle to battle the long standing issue of doing more for less (and in doing so, never losing sight of doing what’s best for the children in their district).
Everyone I know will tell you that I’m terrible with being knowledgeable in the political arena, much like people probably tell you that you’re inexperienced in the field of education. One thing I know for sure that we have in common is fear, one of the worst of the human emotions we can experience. I am well versed in this emotion, not only because of my past, but now my future. I went into my masters degree for my own, personal reasons. Content with the fact that I may not ever get paid for it, because it didn’t matter. I’m a “lifelong learner”, what you stress to impress on my kids. I don’t have children of my own, as my students are my kids. No, my master’s degree didn’t add another certification to my license. I barely teach math and science at my new “home” with my new “family”, as I mostly try to mold my “kids” into successful members of society. I just finished my 7th day in my new home and I’ve already heard about 15 heartbreaking stories, de-escalated about ten fights, saved 2 kids from going to jail, tried to establish a secure & healthy attachment for 3, read over 2 intake interviews, and helped to complete 9 anger management plans. This is without teaching my math and science lessons aligned to the common core standards, with three grade levels in my class, with every intention to close gaps and ensure growth on their standardized end-of-year tests. I’m actually the most satisfied, professionally speaking, that I’ve ever been because I love my job. I love these kids. However, you’re telling me that because my degree didn’t add an additional “educational licensure” and that I didn’t complete a class prior to August 2013, that I shouldn’t be paid. I guess I should say that after August 2013, I shouldn’t act as a nurse (that is only available two days a week), mother (because some don’t have one in their lives, though I don’t even know what being a mother entails), healthy lifestyles promoter (because they’re allowed to buy 27 chocolate chip cookies and a cinnamon roll for breakfast and lunch every day of the school year as long as they have enough money), personal motivator (because not even adults have those and of course because they need to pass those standardized end of the year tests even though you stress differentiation), therapist (I’m lucky I like Psychology), and friend (because I’m a loyal one). Oh, and I can’t forget the addition of the last standard to our evaluation that makes us accountable for every factor in a child’s life to make sure they darn well grow on their “non-differentiated” test, while they’re provided with differentiated education. I’m the most honest person you’ll ever meet, but I’m a liar. I lie to children about what’s important in life (because the “only thing that matters” is that they know how to buy 687 cans of green beans in a hypothetical grocery store—can’t we at least make it something tasty? Pizza? Doritos? Candy? I’ve never seen a kid refuse candy, probably because they’re learning to live on those chocolate chip cookies and cinnamon buns they eat for breakfast and lunch!), I lie to parents about what they “could be doing better” (because I’m sure parenting isn’t tough enough), and I’m lying to myself by convincing myself I should keep my mouth shut, smile and grin.
The problem is, that I loved my other kids too; the kids that I left without warning. The kids that expected to see me every day and the kids that relied on me for support when they were having trouble. The kid that lost a mother and turned to me for motherly guidance, when I’ve never even been a mother. I’m a teacher and I know what this is teaching them. That life is disappointing, that they can’t trust others, that they always need to have their guard up, and that they shouldn’t ever put their best foot forward because they will most always have to learn to balance on one foot. But, here I am, yet again, doing more. For less. With less. But for more kids. The thing is, is that I won’t stop doing that. Even though I deserve more. Because I want to teach my kids that life doesn’t stop when you’re disappointed. And that you have to keep going despite days that you don’t want to see tomorrow because today was worse than yesterday.
As a mother, friend, teacher, therapist, personal motivator, nurse, and occasionally a teacher, I deserve to get paid for what I do. I practice what I’ve learned in my master’s classes every day, with and without this new placement in this new home. Please don’t mistake this request for appropriate pay as a complaint. I will help. I will even help you come up with a defense as to why public school teachers deserve equality (pay, respect and treatment). I also hope this letter appears in strong support of my district, because instead of leaving me homeless, they found me a new one. My district cares about these children and it’s evident in their daily practices.
Though I haven’t included all persons involved in one email, I want to make all aware that this has been sent to Betsy West (state board office)
David Bryant (testing and accountability), the “No Child Left Behind” representatives, Camilla Roberson (governors school), testing and accountability representatives, curriculum representatives, the “errors committee”, Rena Turner (District 84-Iredell), John Fraley (District 95- Iredell), and John Bradford (District 98-Mecklenburg). This has also been sent to the White House, in the event that someone (I do still have hope in humanity) will read this.
In the event that my letter has been evidentially dismissed, I can plan to make time to meet with you personally. Lastly, if that isn’t a reality, I want to be sure that I’m heard. On behalf “of the people, by the people, for the people”. Little did #abelincoln know that his words would hold true over a century later.
I will leave you all with a screen shot of your enthusiastic, “fool-proof” presentation of the current educational system in North Carolina recruiting naïve and exceptional teachers (like myself) to join your team.
The lifelong learner, a forever-never a history buff, leader, nurse, therapist, mother of 987, currently non-running runner, proud supporter of Iredell County, an always honest member of the community and, of course, TEACHER!
Thank you again.