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Saturday, September 22, 2012


When I was a child, one of my mom's favorite expressions was "TGIF"--Thank God It's Friday.
She was a teacher.
She worked full-time, was a single parent, did continuing education to be a better teacher and for individual growth, and corrected papers after she made dinner and washed the dishes (I know, I should have helped).

Today, after attending two open house parent nights last week, I want to say TGFT--Thank God For Teachers!

I don't know what the public education system is like in your neck of the woods, but I was truly shocked by what I learned there. First, some background. My boys attend what are widely considered the best middle and high school in our school district. The younger one is in a French immersion program and the older in a French Immersion International Baccalaureate program. How wonderful is that?!

It's very wonderful. And so are their dedicated and committed teachers, who arrive at 7:30 a.m. and don't get home until dinnertime. To correct papaers and plan lessons later, I am sure.

But listen to this. There are thirty-five student (!!) between the ages of 11 and 13 in my son's middle-school algebra class. High school biology can no longer do labs with the entire class (there are 42 in there), so they must alternate days, with half the class working independently in the hall during lab days. Middle school full-time teachers have 8 class sections of 25-35 students. And here is the real shocker--the brand-new to the district, not full-time, middle-school band and orchestra teacher has SEVENTY-TWO STUDENTS in her 6th grade band class. Now there is a truly scary thought. Seventy-two 11 year olds new to their band instruments, all at the same time.

Also, the custodians no longer have time to sweep the classrooms, we were informed.

How long is that wonderful new young band teacher going to stay fresh and committed? This is crazy!

Due to class overcrowding, scheduling snafus are infinately harder to fix. My younger son, who has played the violin since the age of 7, was mistakenly placed in 8th grade Band (with kids who have played their instruments for at least 2 years) instead of 8th grade Orchestra. If he switches back to orchestra, he will be giving up his science class--for the year. Also, there are no available electives for him to take during the band slot--so he could be a "teacher's assistant" during that period. That's it. He was also mistakenly placed in a French cooking class that he has already taken.

I just don't understand. Public education is an investment in youth, in our community, in our society. How can things get to this point? And why would anyone choose to become a teacher, with the ever-increasing class sizes, budget cuts, and stresses?

Thank God For Teachers!!

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