As I approach the new school year, I’m sure every teacher out there will agree: Summer is a lot of work! I’ve been revamping my teaching materials, preparing for and presenting at professional development workshops, picking up extra work for the county (got to keep up with those bills, since we’re not paid in the summer!), and trying desperately to partake in just a few actual summer activities. The pool has missed me, unfortunately.
Even with all this, though, I’m excited for the new year. The beginning of school is always so exciting. And wonderful. And nerve-racking. And inspiring. And terrifying. One of my colleagues said it best, I think, so I’m just gonna rip her Facebook status off and post it here anonymously:
August and I have a love-hate relationship. I hate the end of summer, but I love the fresh start of a new school year. Sad my summer is almost over…but have decided I am going to have a fantastic school year.
I love that. It’s so true.
However, I can’t help but mention that there is a palpable pall in the air as we approach the new school year, particularly in North Carolina. Our legislature has made some…less than desirable decisions this session that have begun the dismantling of public education. Basically, they just value other things more. Here’s a list of 10 things they put more value on this session:
Top 10 Things the General Assembly Values More than Public Education
1. Provides a $41,000 tax break to people earning over $1 million per year.
2. Cutting taxes by over $600 million annually focusing on those who make over $250,000 annually while raising taxes on average teachers.
3. Continuing a tax break on yacht sales while requiring teachers to spend more out of their pocket for school supplies.
4. Allowing guns on school grounds.
5. Funding opportunities for unlicensed, underprepared novices to begin teaching with little to no support while discontinuing pay increases for educators who seek masters degrees.
6. Usurping local control of local assets, such as taking a major airport from a major city
7. Suppressing the vote by passing restrictive voter identification programs, limiting voting hours, early voting, eliminating same day registration, and discouraging voter registration of students.
8. Allowing charter schools to expand grade levels without having to seek approval from the State Board of Education.
9. Funding private schools with little-to-no accountability measures in place to protect students and taxpayer funds.
10. Requiring 7th grade teachers to discuss sensitive and scientifically discredited abortion issues with students.
So, of course, any teacher can’t help but feel a bit off about all this. For me, I had to think very deeply about what will bring me into the new school year and keep me positive as I teach. One thing: The students. We’re there for them. That’s really what it comes down to.
I think Marcus Aurelius said it best: “The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury.” So, as always, it is up to us teachers to be the bigger people. To take everything in stride. To teach our asses off in spite of everything being thrown at us. Aurelius imparted more wisdom when he said, “Nothing happens to anybody which he is not fitted by nature to bear.” Teachers, by nature, can bear just about anything you can throw at us.
And we will.