I wrote this post in my head at about 4am this Saturday morning, when I awoke with anxiety about next school year. The past few weeks, every teacher’s lounge and every staff meeting has been doom-and-gloom about the state of our school district’s education budget being slashed. Symbolically, every March 15th, in budget shortfall years, staff get “you might be laid off” letters. This year, we may lose some school psychologists for the first time in my 9 years in the profession. It’s bad, people.
I may even be laid off due to an administrative rule that puts me in the same category as a first year employee, despite 9 years of experience. I switched districts and I worked part time some of my years, so basically none of my years count in seniority. Awesome. The way layoffs go down in a school district is not by performance, evaluations, or any other reasonable criteria, but by “last hired, first fired” or in my case, “let go because you worked part time a few years.” Some of the most talented teachers I know are in their first or second years in the profession, and they are the first to be cut.
So friends, I sincerely hope that I don’t have to change the name of my blog from “Notes from the School Psychologist Blog” to “Notes from the Former School Psychologist Who Now Works in the Private Sector with no Health Insurance but Still Believes in Public Education and Can’t Work There With Kids Who Need it Blog.” Not as catchy.
Even if I am spared my job, the budget picture is bleak. My school principals have had to cut most support staff. That means that my placement at my middle school would be only four hours a week and my placement at my elementary school would also be a whopping four hours. Goodbye counseling services, goodbye teacher and parent consultation, parent support groups, counseling groups, prevention activities, and all the things I love. Hello testing one kid, writing a report, going to a meeting and leaving. I will be sad to tell my students I see in counseling that I can no longer see them. Sorry about your abandonment issues, poppits.
My schools have also had to cut all supply budgets. No copier repair funds, no supplies. What enrages me is that I bet Goldman Sachs has never spent a day without a functioning copier or pens and pencils. I bet the Bank of America CEO and his cronies have never had to share one pen with three other people in a cramped janitor’s closet. Why can we bail out the foolios who got us in the recession and turn our backs on the students and teachers? Oh, and how much are we spending in Afghanistan again? Ah that’s right 6.7 billion per month. Do you know what California schools could do with just one month of the war budget? I rarely get all political on this blog, but I see how our kids and school staff will be suffering at no fault of their own, and I have a deep sense of sadness and anger.
I wish I could put a more positive spin on this post. All I can do is to encourage anyone who lives in a city where there will be a special election about funding for schools, please, please, I beg you to get your family and friends to vote for a small increase in tax to keep public schools functioning. I just hope our neighbors aren't penny-wise and pound-foolish. Investment in smaller class sizes, mental health professionals, quality teachers, and supplies to learn prevents school failure and the high cost of special education, not to mention the societal cost of drop out.
As for the Ides of March, I will be stalking the mailman on the 15th to see if I have been stabbed in the back 23 times by the Congress, just like Julius Caesar. Stay tuned...