To whom it may concern,
You’ve been seeing Red for Ed news everywhere you look. You might even be getting sick of it. Well, it’s all coming to a head tomorrow at the Indiana Statehouse. You’ll likely see 20,000 or more teachers and supporters of public education forming a sea of red. You may think, as is the popular belief, that it is a bunch of teachers who want more money. I understand how you may feel that way because that’s essentially the way it’s been covered by most of the media. But it’s about so much more than money. I want to take a moment and explain to you more specifically why we’ll be wearing red tomorrow, and for whom. This will likely be my last post before the rally. If you’ll be kind enough to read further, I think you’ll probably find yourself in what follows.
Are you a young person who feels a calling to become a teacher? Do you feel like a career in education is what is best for you, but you are frightened to pursue it because you’ve been watching public education come under attack by state and federal governments for most of your lifetime? Are you torn between your passion and your sense of self-preservation? We wear the red for you.
Are you an education major who has been struggling to pass the obscure, out-dated, and often irrelevant licensing tests? Are you hoping to become a math teacher in an elementary or middle school and you’ve been required to show mastery of advanced calculus and trigonometry questions you may never have been taught and will certainly never be required to teach? Are you one of the many prospective teachers who’ve spent hundreds if not more than a thousand dollars taking and retaking these ridiculous tests and have failed to the point where you’re considering giving up on the education path you chose? We wear the red for you.
Are you a young teacher who entered the profession, college diploma and professional license in hand, with a paltry starting salary among the lowest of any profession requiring a bachelor’s degree? Have you languished for several years with no raise, hovering right around that same small starting salary, because you teach in a school district with high poverty, crime, drug, and trauma rates and consequently struggles on the standardized tests, causing your school to receive a low letter grade from the state, thus robbing you of any hope of climbing out of your low pay and high debt hole? We wear the red for you.
Are you a veteran teacher who was able to climb the salary ladder before the state took away our guaranteed graduated pay scales and now feels guilty that you make so much more money than your much younger colleagues who, as it now stands, have no hope of every reaching your salary level? Have you seen so much change in your career that it makes your head spin. Are you now forced to work longer hours than you’ve ever worked before just to keep up with the new responsibilities? Do you lie awake nights worrying about all the troubled kids you have in your class that make it so difficult to do the job you love? Is your physical and mental health deteriorating due to the stress and trauma that piles upon you day after day, threatening to smother your happiness? Are you on anti-depressants for the first time in your life? We wear the red for you.
Are you a special ed teacher who has a caseload of 40 or more students? Does the pile of paperwork for IEP’s, 504’s, case conferences, etc., threaten to crush you? Are you pulled in 10 directions at once because your school either can’t find or can’t afford to hire enough teacher’s aides to help you provide the services your students require? Are you contemplating going back to a general ed teaching position or leaving the profession all together because you see no improvement in sight? We wear the red for you.
Are you a teacher who feels like you aren’t supported by administration when you write referrals over and over for a student who won’t let you teach? Do you continually scratch your head in bewilderment and frustration when no suitable consequences ever seem to be given to that student? Have you almost stopped trying to administer discipline to him or her because you’re tired of feeling defeated every time you do? We wear the red for you.
Are you a parent of one of the many great kids who do the right thing day in and day out but have to sit next to that student who disrupts class, keeps getting referrals, but has no consequences given? Are you tired of hearing your child come home and tell stories about what they had to put up with from little Johnny or little Sally while your kid was trying to learn? We wear the red for you.
Are you an administrator who feels like your hands are tied behind your back when it comes to supporting teachers who keep writing referrals on the same kids, but you feel great pressure to keep your suspension numbers low since the state penalizes schools for having high suspension rates? Do you wish you could do more for your teaching staff but feel powerless? We wear the red for you.
Are you an uninformed citizen who thinks teachers are just whining about their pay? Do you think teachers are spoiled brats who only work 180 days a year? Are you one of those who goes around lamenting about how teachers are “indoctrinating” kids with liberal/socialist ideas because we teach from multiple perspectives and encourage students to become independent, informed, critically thinking citizens? We wear the red for you.
Are you an informed citizen who sees the seriousness of this public education crisis? Do you understand the complexities of this problem and that it has been building for more than a decade? Are you, like teachers, fed up with what has been happening to public education. Are you ready to make drastic change to save public education. We wear the red for you.
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