There’s a looming issue that we may all have to face before the end of summer, and I find myself right at the center of it. In my mind, the pandemic and civil crisis are more important issues to deal with right now (though both will not be solved before the next one hits), but it’s sitting there, building up steam, and it may absolutely be a powder keg that blows up right in our face.
I’m talking about education. And as many of us saw these past few months, it’s not the easiest job to handle ourselves. In fact, if we’re being honest, the non-teachers, who were thrust into facilitating virtual learning, still have no idea what it takes to educate a child. Those lessons that inspired countless memes and frustrated social media posts were just a stop-gap. They were the tee-ball of education. Any mom or dad can coach with just a basic understanding of the game. The endgame doesn’t matter as much as just making it through.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you that it’s an impossible job and I’m in any way superior for being able to educate our children. But just like any career, it takes a specialized set of skills, training, and experience to do well. I’m also not going to complain about the compensation I get for doing my job. I’ve always felt that it’s fair, and I am happy with the career choice I made. However, what I do not think is fair is the way in which the government is stripping school districts of the necessary funding to do our job well.
I teach in a district that manages the budget fairly well. We have relatively current technology, by which I mean we have computers that work and SmartBoards in each classroom. We have reasonable class sizes (33 students per class in the high school) and support personnel available to all of our students. And yet, if I need to replace a couple of paperback novels because they are fifteen years old, and have been handled by hundreds of teenagers (who care about communal property exactly zero), I had better start a GoFundMe to do so, because the school does not have the funds to replace books. Ironically, I’m not allowed to use any sort of crowdfunding because of the optics; we’re poor, but don’t want to appear so. And if this is happening in my district, just imagine what is happening in low socio-economic areas.
When the pandemic hit, everyone was all up in arms about how hospitals didn’t have the required equipment to help people. I mean, it was a life or death situation for many people, so rightfully so. I don’t mean to be overly dramatic here, but where is that level of concern for the education of our youth? Also, when’s the last time a school charged a student $400 for a pencil?
Due to economic difficulties that our country is sure to face as a result of Covid-19, the government is looking to short the funding of public education. I’m not a financial expert, but I know some bullshit when I see it. In the years leading up to the 2008 housing crash, banks illegally and unethically participated in lending practices that landed our country in a devastating recession. What was their punishment? A 700 billion dollar government bailout. If you don’t know what the banks did with that bailout money, I highly suggest you do a little research and prepare to be enraged.
I’m not calling for a bailout, but let’s find a way to stabilize funding for schools so we don’t see massive layoffs, larger class sizes, program cuts, and overall depletion of school resources. As it stands right now, most educators are going to be asked to take a significant pay cut and are going to be asked to do more with less. And most educators are going to do so with a smile on their face because they’re happy not to be laid-off, and more importantly, the students will suffer without it. But honestly, those students and their parents should be outraged. They should not stand for inadequate resources in the education of their children. They should not stand idly by as the people who are charged with teaching and caring for their children are handcuffed by a government who is all to willing to make money magically appear when their big money donors are in need.
Education will always be taken for granted. It will never be prioritized until people realize what the world will be like if it were gone. Have you ever seen Idiocracy? That’s our future if we continue to defund education. You think the pandemic is a crisis? Imagine what life would be like without public schools. Seriously. Would you teach your children? Would you pay for them to go to a private school? Would you just forget the whole thing and bank on them figuring it out themselves? It would be a massive shit show for most families if public education were to disappear. I want to stand up against this bullshit, but it’s not something that can be done alone. Until the general public realizes the crucial institution being depleted right before their eyes, nothing will change. It’s time we stopped letting the big money ballers take advantage of our kids, before it’s too late.