The Cost of Cost-Cutting
Today’s ACT Guest Blog Post is from Jane Ching Fung, a National Board Certified Teacher and Milken Award winning veteran educator in Los Angeles Unified School District. This post began as a comment on The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves, but I wanted to make sure more people see what Jane wrote, and consider the damage done by annual budget cuts and pink slips. Even when many of the pink slips are rescinded, as often happens, the fiscal and human costs are considerable. I also recommend Jane’s most recent prior guest post on InterACT, Getting Less From More. (DBC)
It’s past 11:00pm and I’m finally done entering writing scores on our new comprehensive data system. I now have a chance to read this blog entry that I have been saving for a few days. When I read that the Met Life survey showed that teacher satisfaction was at an all time low, I was not a bit surprised. Why? Because I have lived it for the past several years in the field. Just this week we found out that over 50% of the current teachers at our urban school will get pink-slipped. Most of these teachers are leaders of the school, teachers who have earned National Board Certification, masters degrees, and even a doctorate in education. But once again, they will be told they may not have a job this fall.
Just three years ago, our school lost eight newer teachers to budget cuts as well. The layoffs and uncertainty impact school culture and student achievement. I have guided some amazing student teachers in the past several years, only to see them not find teaching jobs, or find them and lose them when their charter school closes, or get laid off at a smaller school district. Some of them decide to leave the profession altogether. Sad for them, sad for me, sad for us.
This is my twenty-fifth year of teaching. Although it has not been easy these past few years, I still love the classroom. I love the sights and sounds of my students discovering, learning, and growing to the best of their ability. I plan to stay as long as that passion is still there, but it hasn’t been easy. My colleagues and I have felt the pressures of high stakes testing and new programs “designed” to ensure success. We feel the loss of time available to actually teach our students, and the loss of our freedom to create and innovate as we once did.
Many of us are still determined to provide our students with rich learning experiences and the time for students to engage, but sadly, many teachers can’t find the time. During the past three weeks, I have been conducting district mandated assessments, and that’s on top of the weekly assessments students take.
They are six years old. They will be doing this for the next twelve years.
We worry about teachers burning out and leaving the profession. I worry about the students we are serving as well.