March 09, 2010

When School Budget Cuts Hit Home

Last Thursday I attended parent-teacher conferences with our preschool teacher. During the conference I expressed my desire to have my daughters be in her class again next year. She made a comment along the lines of "well, you never know what's going to happen, but I fully intend to be here next year." Yesterday morning I called the preschool coordinator and left her a message with my request. Three hours later when I picked my daughters up from school, Ms. Melissa told me she was informed on Friday that she (and two other teachers at the school) will be laid off at the end of this school year. I'm angry on so many levels.
Our time in preschool has been wonderful. I was anxious about navigating through school with quadruplets. Instead, Ms. Melissa made it a warm and welcoming process. Last year, she always sent a helper to unload and load the girls from the car, a small gesture, acknowledging how time consuming it can be to get four children unbuckled. She has always treated my daughters as individuals rather than "the quads."
I appreciate her teaching style. She is not critical. When one of the girls struggled with a homework assignment and simply couldn't complete it, Ms. Melissa emailed me and told me not to worry. She had gone over the work with Roo, who did everything with no problems. Ms. Melissa is "on" from the minute children are dropped off. She starts the day with songs to get everyone moving. She gently reminds the students to follow the classroom rules. Her class if often the last to arrive at the pick-up spot because they are learning until the last minute. Even recess and snack time are teaching tools. At the end of recess, each student has to help do the head count. During snack time, good manners are encouraged, including saying "please" and "thank you."
It saddens me that a good teacher is being let go. I realize someone had to go, but part of me wonders if the right choice was made. I know I'm biased, it just seems ridiculous to lose someone who has had an impact on so many young lives.
To add insult to injury, I just spoke with someone else in the school district. She said this is likely just the beginning of the cutbacks.

10 comments:

Kim said...

If it's a public school district, it's very typical to pass out pink slips in the spring but re-hire at the end of summer. Let's hope that's the case here, because good preschool teachers are hard to come by. It's going to stink if they get rid of teachers and then just increase the class size, especially with toddlers!! They need lots of one-on-one attention . . . I know I'm preaching to the choir, but this gets me upset and I'm not even the one going through it!

Quadmama said...

I'm pretty sure they won't be re-hiring. I've spoken to both the preschool coordinator and the principal and they pretty much are going on the premise that the cutbacks are real. Oh, and it is a public school district. I'm grateful the funding is there to have preschool in the district, but it's frustrating to see what's going on.

Sadia said...

Oh, that's so sad!

I work at a public university, and we're seeing it too. They've talked about decreasing the foreign language requirement because it's such an instruction-heavy area; it's more economical to teach students in herds of hundreds.

Having always attended small schools with plenty of one-on-one attention (and then a small graduate program at the enormous university where I now work) it breaks my heart to think that future generations of students won't know the fire that a passionate teacher given the time to teach can light.

Quadmama said...

I remember in elementary school when 20 students in a class was a large number. Now it's closer to 30.

MaryAnne said...

I'm so sorry! I worry about what the kindergartens in our school district will be when Emma starts - they've already closed one of the elementary schools in our town, and I know they are planning further budget cuts.

Quadmama said...

I'm trying not think about how these budget cuts will impact kindergarten. This is one of the fastest growing school districts in the area, but seems to be one of the most underfunded, too.

Stephanie Barr said...

The budget cuts are hitting exactly the wrong place. Education should be the last to go, but, for some reason, it's always the first.

Zookeeper said...

Sorry to hear this! Having been a teacher in my former life, I know that Ms. Melissa sure appreciates that you are saddened and frustrated by the loss of her position. In my experience with public schools, the last one in is the first one out. It really has nothing to do with quality of teaching, which is unfortunate. Hopefully she'll be be hired back in the fall.

Quadmama said...

It's so sad that we as a country recognize that our education system needs work, but very little seems to be done to save it. Ms. Melissa was one of the newer teachers, so I know it has nothing to do with her teaching ability. I can't imagine what blow it is for her to not only lose her job but her students.

SLColman said...

That stinks :( For the teacher, the students and the parents!

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