Friday, May 30, 2014

“Reflections on Teacher Appreciation Week 2014; a Letter to Congress”

As we enter Teacher Appreciation Week throughout this nation, I cannot help but reach out to you and implore you to intervene on behalf of Teachers, communities, and most importantly our children.

I currently work with Michigan City Area Schools. I moved here in 2008 and purchased a home with my partner, Steve Champagne. We have evolved to the point that we consider Michigan City our hometown. That concept speaks volumes in this day and age. It also speaks volumes as Michigan City and many parts of Northwest Indiana have developed a reputation as not one of the best places to live. While many seek out Valparaiso, Chesterton, etc., we chose to live here. I chose to work here. We have invested into our community. Today I celebrate as I was not RIF'd or "non-renewed." I feel for my fellow educators who did not make it past the chopping block. However I languish in rumors that my investment will take a nose dive over the next year due to economic woes of the district, not brought on by me or my fellow employees. WE did our jobs. WE worked tirelessly to raise our student's scores, morale, as well as raising the morale of our community. Our Administrators will be forced to impose, not a well earned salary increase for dedication, but, are being forced to ask us to absorb the loss of funds. I, along with my co-workers will be forced to take the economic hit.

While many are saying it is only a 2% or so cut, it is actually a 4% as we are not getting a cost of living increase, plus we will take a cut. We will have higher premiums on our insurance because of changes due to *ObamaCare* and other government mandates. (In order to maintain the same level of health care coverage, I will be paying an additional $50.00 per month)WE have already committed to investments with our 401 programs for the coming year with less income. What does this really mean?
  • Lower retirement investment, so there is a long term loss.
  • Lower credit ratings, because our earning power has been diminished.
  • Lower investment in the local community.
  • My spending at restaurants, shops, donations to local endeavors, etc., will all be diminished as my income is being diminished.
The local community will be impacted by the unfortunate economic imposition.

Will our scores continue to rise if morale is low? Will our scores continue to rise if some of the best and brightest see this as an time to leave the community? When will that loss ever be regained? How many years will it take until those of us who have little time left before retirement reclaim our loss? Will we ever without leaving the community?

These are realities that I am sure you are very much aware of. As a dedicated veteran educator I am asking you to help change the direction of education in this country. The current direction has a rapidly spiraling downward effect for your constituency. With 1/3 of all new teachers leaving the profession within the first 3 years, how does this nation and local communities reward those of us who have stayed in and demanded the best for our kids?
What costs are the State and Federal entities imposing upon our learning communities which time and time again, yet, do little to prepare our kids for careers and a sound future? Can we depend upon you to help secure our future along with the future of our schools? Without a sound, logical/pragmatic approach towards fixing the problem, there is little future for our kids.(By the way, standardized testing does not teach children, and it actually costs the United States' taxpayers, over a half a billion dollar annually and that is a minimum! There is only one entity that is reaping the harvest off of our kids test scores: THE PUBLISHERS!)

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