Schools need to be able to have staff and resources to teach our students in ways that work integrating technology, science, mathematics, arts, music, and allowing students to have physical education and access to support staff. If we truly want to compete in the global economy we are defining our own future. How are you going to help?
Lori Rice is a fourth-grade teacher at West Elementary in Wamego, Kansas, who has taught K-2 reading as well as kindergarten, first grade and fourth grade for the past 19 years. Her students read books that are held together by tape, and because of budget cuts her school does not have a full-time librarian, art teacher, technology teacher or music teacher. As a result, she says, “our schedules are limited and cannot be arranged for what is best for students.”
Rice has made it a habit to write to her elected representatives about the problems teachers face in the classroom, especially when they are dealing with legislation that might help the situation. The following post is a letter she is sending to legislators about what her day looks like as a result of their funding decisions, and what could happen if funding levels were raised. She also gives teachers advice on how they can reach out to their own legislators. I am running this post, which first appeared on The Educator’s Room website, with permission from the author and the website’s founder.
By Lori Rice
Teachers have an untapped resource we have not been using. We have knowledge and experience and it is our responsibility to voice our concerns with leaders in our community, state and nation. What would happen if every teacher wrote to someone in power? What if you stopped what you were doing right now and wrote a letter or sent an email to someone who can make a change? I have written to representatives when important issues have come up in our legislative branch. It is relatively simple to find your local and state leaders. You can go online to your government web site and find a mailing address or email. If we are truly tired of letting others make decisions, we have to provide them with the information they need to know.
Below is my letter I will be sending to my government leaders as they start planning funding and making laws about this world I live in every day. As you write your letter, give a short background about yourself, tell about your school or classroom and tell what should be done. Be specific if you know of a bill or funding that is being considered in education. Share your voice and stand up for education.
I teach fourth grade at West Elementary in Wamego, KS. I have taught K-2 reading as well as kindergarten, first grade and fourth grade for the past 19 years. This experience, along with my continued professional development and schooling, has made me an expert in education. During this time, however, education has gone through great changes. The classrooms of today are active communities of exploration, collaboration and learning. In light of the economic situation and public viewpoint of education, I want to invite you into our classroom. I invite you to see what your decisions are doing to the children in our schools.
Resources and staff are limited. At 8:00 a.m., I have 24 bodies burst through the door. Along with 140 other bodies in the hallway, they shove their backpacks and coats into lockers that are double stacked measuring 30 inches by 24 inches. (In this confined space coats and bags intermingle, sometimes with locker spaces needing to be shared. This is not a good idea for health concerns such as lice and germs during cold and flu season.) Students select their name on the Smartboard to take attendance and then start working on number sense and math review with the calendar activity of the day. I have students who can complete this independently in three minutes and students who need adult assistance along with 15 minutes to complete it successfully. Twenty-four students mean different needs. Making learning relevant for every student is a challenge.