Sunday, February 7, 2010

warning- my own irrational, bitter thoughts...

*take this all knowing that I've been snowed in for days and easily become irrationally bitter when I have large amounts of time to think**

It's official.

The think-tank will no longer be year-round next year.

We knew it was coming. In December our principal called us to a staff meeting and presented the budget. She told us about the fights happening behind the scenes, the decisions she was forced to make, the sacrifices all the principals had to face. We all left the meeting with an increase admiration for our principal and how she was fighting for us, along with a heavy heart knowing that we would no longer be year-round because it just wasn't possible. I am still amazed and in awe of how my principal presented the information to help us understand the budget and why it was in our best interest to no longer be year-round. Our district is facing huge cuts, staff positions are threatened, no one knows what is going to happen to class sizes, we don't expect a pay raise any time in the near future- everyone, on every level, is being asked to tighten their belts.

So it shouldn't have been such a blow to see that last week it became official- the school board voted to eliminate of our year-round calendar.

What is a shock, however, is what they voted to keep in spite of the "everyone is going to tighten their belts" lectures we've been giving.
Yes, children benefit from the programs they voted to keep- like freshman sports, foreign language in elementary schools, and winter track- but it's hard to swallow that they're keeping those when we're losing other great programs.
They're closing an alternative high school that allows teenage mothers to get their high school degrees at night so they can hold down their jobs during the day- a program that was making it possible for a parents of my one of my kindergarten students to earn her diploma. With a year left to go, however, and a 5 year old at home, we can only pray that she has the resources to find another way to earn her degree. (They did vote to give funding to help those students with the transition, so hopefully that will help).

Some of it just hurts because, we were told that we were all in this together- we were all tightening our belts. And now we learn that the children who already speak English will be able to continue to learn another language in elementary school- yes, a wonderful experience for them- but our children are losing a program that actually helps them learn English.
High school freshman will continue to be able to participate in sports- yes, a wonderful opportunity- but our children will have an entire summer sitting in their apartment buildings to forget their reading skills and their English vocabulary.

Earlier this month Mr.Lipstick and I caught a segment on the local news about these cuts. They showed videos from the school board meetings where children from the foreign language programs came and read poems to the school board in their new language. High schoolers were there in their sports uniforms advocating for their teams. And these kids should be there- they should advocating for their needs- but they were there because their parents understood the importance of getting them there. They had parents who weren't working a night job so they could get them there- they had parents supporting and encouraging them to speak in front of a room of many important people. Of course, I do not know for sure that none of our families were there, but my guess is that they were not. Our families do not always have the resources, the understanding of the system, or the confidence, to make their needs heard.
And it might not have made a difference. It was a tough fight- an uphill battle, and we are blessed to come out of the fight still keeping our class sizes the same and continuing to have so many instructional coaches at our school. We are not walking away losing everything, and in truth, we are still receive more funding than many schools in this country.

But give me this one moment to be sad and frustrated- that our children have lost such an important program while others, who already had so much, did not lose as much.


Jason Buell said...

Looks like we both need a little blog therapy. I'm having my own problems as well.

Anonymous said...

I remain amazed at what the school board and affluent parents don't understand or about which they do not care. When 4th grade strings and all-day kindergarten were both on the block all the parents near me were up in arms about strings -- all I could say is that strings are nice but we can afford to get our kids strings lessons. All day kindergarten (which we don't have as the more affluent schools get it last and it didn't reach us before the recession) is so much more important as is the think tank.

We live in an immersion school district but are not in the program, my son does get the other language as a special a few times a week, he not really learning anything useful. This is not money well spent.

The bottom line is that we again have folks in who don't understand that it is their jobs to protect and advocate for those less fortunate (perhaps the think tank parents) and not to cave to those who are lucky enough to have the education and resources to be be organized and vocal (clearly the immersion parents).

Amy said...

It is unfortunate that this year-round program, that benefitted all especially our ESOL and Sped kids is no longer. I know in the past they've cut summer school programs.I hope that as a result of cutting the year-round programs, that summer school is offered. These kids do lose much of their reading fluency and language development, but hopefully enrolling in summer school will cut down on that loss.

organized chaos said...

Amy, sadly they've cut summer school as well. You should see what we have to go through to get our children with special needs to qualify for extended school year services... unless there is an absolute need our kids aren't going to summer school. :(