I’m no math whiz—as evidenced by my recent GRE scores—but I think that solving the state’s education crisis is a no-brainer. Let’s say you run a furniture store. You have 10 employees and average about 100 customers a month. Then, the next month rolls around, and you have a five percent increase in the number of customers. If that number continues to go up, I don’t think you would cut the number of employees because you wouldn’t be able to service your customers well and will then lose business.
Taking the metaphor further, only seven of your employees actually sell furniture. The other three support their efforts through customer invoicing, janitorial services, and furniture delivery. What do you think would happen to your business if you eliminated even one of those functions? Someone else who already has a full-time job with you (and less experience in this new role) would have to pick up the slack. While the other salespeople might be happy with an opportunity to increase their commissions, at some point they'll be overwhelmed with the new business and get burnt out and quit! So how would that affect your business?
What situation does this metaphor mirror? Well, of course, I am talking about public education in Oklahoma where we’ve seen an increase in the student population by nearly 54,000 in the last decade. 54,000!!! That is insane. You would think that our state would be hiring more teachers, but that is not the case. We are losing them, along with the support personnel who run our buildings.
I am tired of ill-informed people saying they want to put more money into the classroom, by which they mean we don’t want to fund non-teachers. I get that sentiment, but it is not realistic to think that buildings can run effectively without people to manage the operations of the organization. We need support professionals as much as we need teachers, and they deserve to be paid a living wage. With more students suffering from various chronic illnesses, how can we survive without RNs in all our buildings? Just like in the furniture store analogy, someone else is taking up the slack and providing medicine to these children.
What are we to do when a pipe bursts in the boy’s locker room? I can tell you as a teacher that I wouldn’t know the second thing to do in that situation. (I know the first is to turn off the water, right??) I know many teachers would, but honestly, piling on extra responsibilities is a huge cause of our teacher exodus. We need the support people in place so that teachers can teach!
What duties have you been assigned as a teacher which you felt were way out of your scope? We all do what needs to be done for our students, but is that really what is best for kids?