A Letter to the General Public

Dear Great Citizens of these United States,

I am a teacher. Crucify me; vilify me; or celebrate me. It doesn't matter. I am one of the few links between your child and their future. I am one of the cogs in a whole network of cogs that turn and grind together to help your child become the person he or she would like to be ...

I take great exception to the complaints about school supply lists ... the way I've decorated my room ... the way I choose to manage my classroom ... the way I choose to teach concepts to your child ... the homework (or lack thereof) that I might or might not assign to your child ... the tests I do or don't give ...

I take my job very seriously. Most days, I take it too seriously, to the detriment of my health, my personal life, and my social life -- which, let's face it, is pretty much non-existent. I must be very sick before I will take off from teaching your child, because I know that he or she is missing a day of instruction when I am not there. Thank goodness I don't have a child of my own! If I did, I would constantly feel guilty about not being with my sick child, because then your child will not be getting what he or she needs. When you're a teacher, you teach every one else's child to the detriment of your own child.

Lest you think I'm complaining, I'm not. I've chosen this profession ... it has chosen me. And for every single hair-pulling, scream-inducing day, I have ten that humble me to my very core.

I just wonder ... for all those people that are complaining ... complaining about test scores .... complaining about tenure ... complaining about having to buy stuff for their child's classroom ... I just wonder, have you talked to your child's teacher to see why they are asking for those items? Have you talked to your child's principal? Or the board?

You see, in most districts around the United States, district operating budgets have been slashed almost in half. Sometimes, more than half. Slashed seems like such a banal word ... raped. Our school budgets have been raped, and it's on the backs of your child and his or her friends. Your child's teacher will still work hard to make sure Little Johnny or Little Mia get what they need. They will take second, sometimes, third jobs. They will ignore their own families and friends to make sure your child knows what they need to know for the coming year. They will cut into their own, personal budgets to purchase the things your child will need for school ... to make your child comfortable while they are in their classrooms ... they will call on friends and family to help donate items for your child's education. All because teachers believe in the future ... their future ... our future.

Instead of cursing us for our supposed careless disregard for your income and lifestyle, perhaps it's time to talk with the folks that can do something about it, and whose decisions have, up to this point, been the entire cause for the fact that you find yourself out buying not only crayons and pencils this year, but now copy paper and hand sanitizer ... perhaps it's time to have a frank conversation with your legislator(s). They are the ones raping your child's education.

Until we, as a collective group of citizens ... of voters, are willing to storm our state capitols and Washington, D.C., and show them how angry we are, your state legislators, Republican and Democrats together, will continue to steal from Peter to pay Paul. How much longer can your child shoulder the lack of concern for education? How much longer can you shoulder the cost?

Let's put the blame where it really needs to go ... with the men and women that vote to cut education budgets. Please do not blame your child's teacher. Most understand the budget restraints you are under. We are under them as well.

A Teacher


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