The View from the Trenches?
So school begins again after a tumultuous summer that included a semi-successful recall of Wisconsin lawmakers who voted to curtail collective bargaining rights and benefits. Ohio votes in November, not on individual lawmakers but on the legislation that limits collective bargaining in that state. Governor Rick Perry of Texas (the state where 60% of students in grades 7-12 have been suspended or expelled) insists that every state should be free to do its own education thing without federal monies or interference, making you wonder who’s advocating for the kids in Texas. The core standards are plodding along with the usual glacial speed of those kinds of initiatives. And on NPR Claudio Sanchez notes that teachers are feeling “beat down” as the school year starts.
But while reformers and union leaders continue throwing bricks at one another in the stratosphere, at the ground level (and in the trenches), teachers are decorating their rooms and kids are buying bright new
backpacks and boxes of 48 breathtakingly beautiful new crayons. Parents in many states took advantage of no tax weekends to purchase clothes and school supplies. On the supply list for new kindergartners here were 12 glue sticks. Twelve! “Maybe we eat them, “ the kindergartner suggested.
The question I have is, how will things at the national level affect the local classroom? And I mean really, not rhetorically. All the bloviating this past year from lawmakers and union types surely affected the air quality and the heat index. But really, how are things at ground level? Are classes really bigger? Did good teachers get laid off? Will evaluation be different? Are teachers in general really angry, as the media suggest? Or will the great majority of them greet their new students, close the door, and do what they do best – make a difference in kids’ lives (maybe even though they’re angry)?
I would love to hear what’s happening at your school as the year begins (and I’m thinking others in the trenches would too). Is anything different ? Are you feeling overwhelmed, underpaid and angry? Or do you operate under that radar? Do you have the resources you need to make this a good year for kids? Are you feeling anxious or just eager to start anew?
The opening of school is always such an exciting and hopeful time for both school people and kids. Is it still the same?